Motorists drive in the dark as HAL, BBMP spar over Suranjan Das Rd

Deccan Chronicle.  | Denzil Rithesh D’Souza

Nation, Current Affairs

Lack of streetlights, potholes create problem. Road has not seen lights in decades n Accidents common.

A motorist negotiating a dark stretch of Suranjan Das road (Photo: DC)

BENGALURU: Commuters using Suranjan Das Road have been groping in the dark for several years and for motorists, especially those on two-wheelers, a ride on the 4.1-km stretch is dangerous. Suranjan Das Road, named after a legendary pilot, connects Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd on the Old Airport Road to the Old Madras Road.

“I am 32 years old. I was born in HAL quarters and since then I have not seen streetlights on Suranjan Das Road. As an auto driver for the past nearly 20 years I can relate to the woes of those who drive through this road in the dark. It is so badly maintained that riding through it is an adventure. I have witnessed many accidents here, but the BBMP is not taking it seriously,” said Mr Santhosh Kumar, who parks his auto near BEML Circle.

'Road widening a bane’

The road was built in the 1940s to connect Old Airport Road and Old Madras Road. Till 2014, the road belonging to HAL was a narrow stretch with a few streetlights. Riding was difficult even then. Though an MoU was signed between BBMP, HAL and Bagmane Tech Park to widen the road in 2006, the work was completed only in 2014. But again, no streetlights were installed. Things have only worsened since then, commuters said.

"Trees were felled and, speed-breakers and dividers were put up. The existing streetlights were removed for road widening in 2014 and till date, they are not back. There are many incidents of motorists crashing into the dividers. Unscientifically built road humps have led to accidents. Added to the problems are potholes that are dangerous when filled with rainwater," said Dolphin Sequeira, a member of two generations of families working with HAL.

“People have also complained that pedestrians often get mugged here, with parks providing a hideout for muggers. Barring a small stretch from the HAL side that includes HAL Hospital and HAL Public School up to a few hundred metres, one can't see even poles installed for streetlights all through Suranjan Das Road.
'BBMP contractor 'detained'    

Though commuters blame civic authorities, the BBMP said that its jurisdiction of Suranjan Das Road is only about 100 metres and it needs HAL’s approval to take up any work.

“We know the inconvenience caused to public but we are helpless. When we try to take an initiative beyond jurisdictional limits we have to face a backlash from HAL, including a detention of sorts," said Vignan Nagar corporator Veena Ramakrishna.    

"There were complaints of an overflowing drain in front of Sacred Heart School on the road. Seeing their plight, BBMP cleared the mess but faced the wrath of HAL. We were treated like trespassers and our contractor was taken away by HAL estate manager's men and made to sit in his cabin to explain. It was only after persistent request that he was let go,” alleged the corporator.

"How can one expect us to install streetlights on HAL-owned road amid such harsh jurisdictional constraints? They are neither handing us the stretch for development nor doing anything on their own," lamented Veena.
Talking to Deccan Chronicle, HAL rubbished BBMP's allegation that it was stopping the installation of streetlights along Suranjan Das Road.

"As per the contract, BBMP is required to install streetlights on this road. HAL would not stop them. The question of non-cooperation from HAL does not arise at all. In fact, as a goodwill measure, we have provided streetlights at some places on this road, although we are not supposed to take up such work," said Mr Gopal Sutar, spokesperson, HAL.