Bengaluru: A day after Chief Minister Siddaramaiah threw his hands up in the air and said, “What more can I do, give me some suggestions. I have already instructed the BBMP officials that they need to ensure better quality of roads,” the Bengaluru potholes issue is becoming much more than just about bad roads.
Bengaluru has seen almost-incessant rainfall for more than a month now and city roads did not have the ability to cope with it. On last count, Bengaluru’s roads had more than 16,000 potholes and at least four people had died in the past week trying to navigate on the broken roads.
The issue of the city’s infrastructure cracking under pressure from a bout of good rains could decide the direction in which the political winds blow.
Bengaluru’s urban side alone has 28 Assembly constituencies, while the rural districts (most of which are an extension of the suburbs today) have another 8 seats – a significant 12-plus per cent of the total 224 seats in the Assembly.
The BJP top brass in Karnataka decided to do a day-long tour of potholed-areas in the city – leaders like former CMs BS Yeddyurappa and Jagadish Shettar and city MLAs like R Ashok posed in front of potholes and painted some of them red, to warn of its danger.
“I want to ask Siddaramaiah one straight question — He spent Rs 4000 crores in last 2 years for roadworks. With that money, you could have put concrete roads all across Bengaluru. Where has the money gone? What happened to the international quality roads you were talking about?” asked Yeddyurappa.
Reacting to the Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George’s recent statement that water woes are a fault of the previous government, Yeddyurappa dubbed it as the government’s foolishness. “They have been in power for the last four-and-a-half years. How can they blame the previous government for this? What was the state of roads before, when BJP was in power, and in what conditions are the roads now?” he thundered.
The recent pothole deaths and inability to manage water woes has sent the Congress government into a huddle over how best to tackle the crisis. Pothole-filling cannot be taken up unless the rains stop – and the city has not seen two consecutive days of sun in more than a month.
That apart, water-logging around arterial roads and pictures that soon become memes on social media have left the government red-faced – for one, the government has tried to shift blame; for another, the government has also tried to start road-repairs.
The attempts though may be in vain, as the filling that is taking place in different areas will vanish during the next bout of rains – a fact that everyone from the junior-most engineer to the MLA who posts pictures of the shoddy work on social media is well aware of.
The government too is aware that this will affect their electoral prospects – Development Minister KJ George, in fact, said on Wednesday that “wait for three months and see, how good the roads will be.”
Elections are slated for April-May 2018, and if the mess is not cleared up in the next three months, Congress could well lose its hold over Bengaluru.
“When they go campaigning, the people will not even allow them to enter their locality. That is how much they are cursing this government because of the pathetic infrastructure,” Yeddyurappa told News18.
It’s not just about Bengaluru, rains have played havoc across the state and many districts have seen deaths, accidents and damage to property because of water-logging or mismanaged infrastructure.