Thursday, December 31, 2015

Footpath Failure in Bangalore: Will 2016 be a Happier New Year?

Footpaths — or sidewalks for the American reader — fail to address the needs of pedestrians in Bangalore adequately.

Various kinds of imperfections exist in the footpaths in Bangalore. The NGO Janaagraha has done a scientific study, 2015 Street Quality Score, and concluded that 75% of footpaths in inner Bengaluru, and 58% in outer part walkable.

Tree? In Footpath?
Garbage at a street corner in Jayanagar
Footpaths have been created with almost no concern for pedestrians: e.g., a
tree is right smack in the middle of a footpath in the photo at left.

Then, of course, we have the ever-present garbage dumped on the footpath with no particular person concerned about it. What happened to PM Narendra Modi's स्वच्छ भारत अभियान?

Why do we have this state of affairs, whereby such unacceptable conditions continue to persist? A possible answer, in the case of bad roads, is seen in this, August 2015, Times of India article titled Corruption Eats into Bengaluru Roads. Of course, this corruption is daylight robbery, but are any of the BBMP officials that may be involved in this being brought to justice? A quote from the article:
"The tender process appears to be a means for corrupt officials and politicians to make money off contractors, who pay kick backs to land contracts to lay roads.Only half the money sanctioned is actually spent on the project, say sources."
Incidentally, this corrupt process seems to be in vogue since at least 1975, when I went abroad for higher studies. I recall distinctly how dangerous the roads were, particularly after monsoon rains, when I used to commute on a moped from near the HAL Airport to Indian Institute of Science.

But, there seems to be good news in the environment: Bengaluru Shows the Way to Better Roads. When, a few days ago, I happened to walk on Cunningham Road, I did note that the footpath was quite nicely done. At that time, I didn't know that the TenderSure1 concept, conceived by Janaagraha, is responsible for that pleasant surprise. If you look at the roster of individuals powering Janaagraha, you will begin to understand why this NGO is successful.

I hope Bangaloreans — or, is it Bengalureans? — can rally around the vision of Janaagraha, and create a cleaner Bangalore?

Happy New Year, Bangalore, in 2016.

1Actually, in an uncorrupt society, this TenderSure concept is a redundancy; but, more on that in a separate context.

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