Within four months of taking over as the chief of Bengaluru’s city civic body, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Tushar Giri Nath is faced with the daunting task of handling the flash floods that have engulfed the Silicon Capital of India.
The torrential rain has left Bengaluru marooned for the second time in two months, raising questions on whether the city’s civic body is capable of handling emergency situations.
News18 spoke exclusively to BBMP commissioner Giri Nath on the handling of the situation, given the unprecedented rain and illegal encroachments that have caused primary and tertiary stormwater drains (SWD) to clog, thus throwing up water and inundating low-lying areas in the city.
“This was unprecedented rainfall. Those who have suffered, we are really sorry. We are doing our best and working towards providing a permanent solution to spots that are frequently inundated. We will ensure that by the next rains, we would have cleared the hurdles and put in place infrastructure to prevent flooding,” Giri Nath said.
“Our lakes are full and our system is not able to absorb any more water. That’s the problem,” he added.
THE RESCUE OPS
Giri Nath explained that the top priority has been the rescue operations along with the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams in areas around the Outer Ring Road, Mahadevapura, Bellandur and Varthur.
BBMP teams and officers have been working long hours to help people with food and essential supplies in areas where water has risen upto 4 feet, along with emergency services for stranded senior citizens.
This has been the second wettest monsoon seen in Bengaluru in the past 50 years. If you look at the data, in two days, Bengaluru received more than 4 to 5 times the rain it usually receives in a week. More than 162 lakes in the city are full and they are unable to take the additional water, causing flooding.
“This has been the second wettest monsoon seen in Bengaluru in the past 50 years. We have seen unprecedented rainfall in the past 24 to 48 hours. If you look at the data, in two days, Bengaluru received more than 4 to 5 times the rain it usually receives in a week. More than 162 lakes in the city are full and they are unable to take the additional water, causing flooding,” Giri Nath said.
Mahadevapura, one of the eight zones, is the epicentre of the flooding. “We have been cleaning stormwater drains across the city vigorously, but the rain brought in water that left low-lying areas like Bellandur, Varthur and Mahadevapura inundated,” the commissioner said.
THE PREP TALK
Giri Nath admitted that the BBMP was responsible for clearing the drains and removing illegal structures blocking the drainage water flow to prevent flooding. He emphasised that the pre-monsoon preparations have been on for several months.
Desilting is the responsibility of the BBMP. We are not shirking our responsibility. We are doing our best to clear all drains. There is no doubt many drain lines have been built in violation of the norms and many buildings and structures have come up over the stormwater drains, thus affecting their flow.
He pointed out that several areas in Bengaluru were not flooded like Mahadevapura or Bellandur. “My office is in Sampangiram Nagar in the city and we had 40 mm rain. Other places had 100 mm, but the water cleaned up these areas. This was because of the vigorous pre-monsoon work done by the BBMP," Giri Nath said.
#WATCH | Mohammed Haris Nalapad, President, Karnataka Pradesh Youth Congress Committee floats using an inflated rubber tube on a waterlogged road in #Bengaluru to protest against the state govt demanding a solution to severe waterlogging witnessed in the city pic.twitter.com/IF8DdmNa55— ANI (@ANI) September 6, 2022
“Desilting is the responsibility of the BBMP. We are not shirking our responsibility. We are doing our best to clear all drains. There is no doubt that there are many drain lines that have been built in violation of the norms and many buildings and structures have come up over stormwater drains, thus affecting their flow. We are constantly working to remove all such illegal structures and blockages,” he said.
Karnataka | Today’s rainfall report for Bengaluru is: Electronic City-8 cms, City office-4 cms, International airport-9.6 mm & HAL airport-5 cms. Heavy rain for next 2-3 days in Bengaluru, yellow alert was issued for today: Dr Geeta Agnihotri, Scientist, Meteorological Dept pic.twitter.com/5OCowsEXj3— ANI (@ANI) September 6, 2022
Government sources confirmed that CM Basavaraj Bommai, revenue department and the disaster management department had instructed the BBMP and deputy commissioners to keep personnel and equipment ready to handle flood-like situation in the city. However, BBMP officials said they received no such warning and it would have been impossible to predict such unprecedented rain.
With a number of IT companies located inside IT parks such as Manyata Tech Park and RMZ Eco space severely affected by the flooding, Giri Nath said the BBMP will ease things for the employees and companies that had to suffer.
“Unfortunately, IT parks have been badly hit. We assure our full cooperation to ensure the IT companies are able to work full-time and their employees are not affected further. All of this is a result of the earlier wrongdoings. We have identified several stormwater drains that need to be cleared and we will also break a few of them to increase their size and ensure another outlet for the stagnant water,” the commissioner told News18.
Unfortunately, IT parks have been badly hit. We assure our full cooperation to ensure the IT companies are able to work full-time and their employees are not affected further. All of this is a result of the earlier wrongdoings.
Areas around Mahadevapura, Bommanahalli, HSR layout, Yamalur Bellandur and surrounding areas are among the worst-hit, as they are located in low-lying areas and several of the apartment complexes and office buildings have been built illegally on lake beds.
The BBMP has been under fire for not being able to control Bengaluru’s flooding as it turns out to be an annual occurrence. The BBMP has identified 696 encroachments and topping the list was Mahadevapura (175). Violations were also identified in East Bengaluru (110), West (20) and South (126) and notices were sent to those involved in the illegal construction.
Karnataka CM @BSBommai and BJP spokesperson say that whatever is happening in Bengaluru today is due to the previous Congress governments’ lack of work.Political war of words between DK Shivakumar, KPCC Chief @DKShivakumar and Mohan Krishna BJP #NationAt5 #Bengaluru |@ridhimb pic.twitter.com/CXGUdOsaP3
— News18 (@CNNnews18) September 6, 2022
“Our officials will clear the encroachments on a war-footing. The chief minister has directed the clearing of all types of encroachments and the process is on,” he said.
The BBMP commissioner said that if, despite their efforts, Bengaluru faces incessant rain, there will be flooding and people will have to understand that it is because of the change in weather patterns, which the civic body does not have control over.
The BBMP commissioner added that if, despite their efforts, Bengaluru faces incessant rain, there will be flooding and people will have to understand that it is because of the change in weather patterns, which the civic body does not have control over.
“People will have to bear with that situation. We will, however, ensure that places that are prone to inundation are attended to quickly,” he added.