Irked over ‘civic apathy’, Anjanapura residents get creative with protest
Aleem said that each time the group gets an idea, they share it with the changemakers group, which has the heads of around 80 RWAs in the locality of approximately 30,000 residents.
In Anjanapura, just off Kanakpura Road on the outskirts of Bengaluru, a group of office bearers in one of the 80 Residential Welfare Association (RWA) are mooting new ideas for the next creative protest--a tool used by residents to get the attention of the authorities to provide motorable roads in a city.
“People are frustrated with the conditions we are forced to live with. We know that if we do normal kinds of protest, then we don’t get a lot of attention, so we think of doing something creative to gain attention,” Abdul Aleem, the president of the Changemakers of Kanakpura Road Association, said.
This group has come up with at least three ideas to grab the attention of the civic body. They have tried to plant paddy on the slushy road and make it look like an agricultural field, paddle a coracle on stagnated water after heavy rain and have one of its members dress up as Lord Yama or the god of death to sit behind two-wheelers that symbolises that riding on these streets was akin could well be fatal.
Aleem said that each time the group gets an idea, they share it with the changemakers group, which has the heads of around 80 RWAs in the locality of approximately 30,000 residents. The idea is then shared with others and a final idea is moulded to get the attention of the authorities, he added.
Bengaluru comes to a standstill at the slightest hint of rain as it further exposes the fault lines in non-existent planning and policy for a city that is known the world over for its prowess in information technology, startups, biotechnology, Aerospace and several other sectors.
Bengaluru, a city of over 12 million residents, is the biggest earner for the state coffers and has an annual budget of around ₹10,000 crore.
Artists like Badal Nanjundaswamy are celebrated for their work highlighting civic apathy.
In September 2019, his video went viral, in which an actor dressed up as an astronaut and walked Bengaluru’s crater-laden roads (meant to simulate the surface of the moon) to highlight civic apathy.
Interestingly, the video is back making the rounds on social media as relentless rains continue to expose the fault lines in Bengaluru.
In most cases, the authorities tend to react quickly to contain the damage to the reputation of the civic authority mainly the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), but much of this is short-lived and shoddy work, the residents said.
For instance, the authorities reacted to the coracle ride on Anjanapura Double road but asphalted a two-kms stretch of 13 kms that needed to be completely laid.
The city of Bengaluru, which measured around 300 square kms was expanded in 2007, by including 100 villages on its outskirts, extending the area by over 500 square kms, according to government data.
“Potholes and other poor infrastructure are catastrophic risks for two-wheelers, pedestrians and cyclists. While everyone faces some risk and pain from the shoddy work overseen by those in power now, the dangers are much higher for those in these modes of travel,” Ashwin Mahesh, an expert on urban infrastructure said in a post on Twitter.
On May 9, the BBMP said it would start a resurvey of potholes, which has become a routine exercise in Bengaluru where more people have died due to civic apathy than all major cities of the country put together, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
At least 18 persons died in 2020, according to the national crime records bureau data, which also account for 85% of all such cases reported in the country, and this is higher than the combined total of similar causes in all other major cities of the country, including Mumbai and New Delhi.
“The overwhelming majority of those injured or killed in preventable road deaths are in these modes. And without financial and criminal liability, officials in the city agencies and contractors routinely get a free pass on the casualties they cause,” Mahesh added.
“I will hold two important meetings on Tuesday. One is on the damages caused by recent rains,” chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Monday.