Flooded homes, uprooted trees, marathon power cuts and dinghies ferrying people around: Bengaluru awoke to chaos as the city recorded its highest rain in a 24-hour span since 1890.
Flooded homes, uprooted trees, marathon power cuts and dinghies ferrying people around: Bengaluru awoke to chaos as the city recorded its highest rain in a 24-hour span since 1890. Angry residents say the BBMP could have reinforced stormwater drains before the onset of the monsoon, for the situation is likely to worsen with more rain predicted over the next 48 hours.
Bengalureans woke up to a ravaged city on Independence Day as Monday night’s torrential rain left a huge trail of destruction with several roads flooded, trees uprooted and electric poles broken, cutting off power supply to many areas. With at least a 100 houses flooded and people stranded in other parts, rubber boats were called in to ferry many to safety.
Highest rain in 24 hours since 1890
Going by the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Corporation (KSNMDC), Bilekahalli in South Bengaluru recorded 18.4 cm rain, the highest the city has ever received in a 24-hour span. The previous record was 16.6 cm set in 1890!
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While the rain flooded many parts of the city, especially affected were South and West Bengaluru and areas like Koramangala and Indiranagar. And much to misery of people living around it, the infamous Bellandur lake started to foam once again.
Dinghies used to ferry people
The situation was so bad in Koramangala and surrounding areas that the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), a unit of the fire and emergency services, used a rubber boat to ferry people to safety.
Ms Sabeela Dastagir , working with a firm in the area, had the horrifying experience of seeing her car go under water even as she watched. Ms Dastagir and her colleague, who entered the wrong lane felt their car going under water and rushed out, before being rescued by the SDRF. "We deserted the car and saw it disappear under water in a few seconds. We managed to reach a building under construction with the help of some construction workers and then the SDRF came to our rescue. We later hired a cab and reached home," she recounted.
Over 100 houses flooded
Storm water mixed with sewage gushed into over 100 houses in KR Puram, Ejipura and Adugodi and the basements of several apartments were flooded, almost submerging the parked cars. Two sheds in Shantinagar were washed away and many had to wade through knee-deep to waist-deep water to go about their day’s routine jobs. Students had a hard time reaching their schools for their Independence Day celebrations and some people were seen wading through the water to rescue their pet dogs.
Several parts of the city, especially low lying areas like Ashwini layout, ST Bed, HSR Layout and Ejipura in Koramangala, Jalakanteshwaranagar in Adugodi, Shantinagar bus stand, Double Road, Wilson Garden, KR Puram, Anugraha Layout, Ulsoor, Vivek Nagar, Murugesh Palya off Old Airport Road and Gurappana Palya off Bannerghatta Road, had almost knee-deep water, leaving people stranded in their homes. Several spent hours using water pumps to remove the water from their homes and building basements with some relying on fire tenders to help clear the water.
BMTC complex flooded
The BMTC complex in Koramangala,which also houses an Income Tax office and a media house was flooded and around eight cars parked in the basement were completely submerged.
An officer from the fire and emergency services said about six feet of water had accumulated in the basement. It took around 15 hours to clear the 40,000 sq. feet basement of all the water, according to him. "We had made preparations to celebrate Independence Day, but had to wait until the water receded on Tuesday morning," said a bus driver, Santhosh Kumar , who was shocked to see the depot resembling a lake on arrival.
Bus depot inundated
The Shantinagar bus depot located near a storm water drain, was also inundated, making it impossible for the drivers and conductors to join duty. All bus schedules went for a six as they could not get out of the depot on time, badly inconveniencing commuters.
Pet owners waded through water to rescue their dogs
Several people had to wade through the water to rescue their pet dogs, while others said their dogs had run away after the thunder and lightning overnight.
Roads or pools
With roads in several areas turning into pools of water, motorists had a hard time negotiating them and the innumerable dangerously submerged potholes.
Many areas plunge in dark
Power played tantrum in area like Kormangala, Indiranagar, Shanthinagar, Adugodi, Ejipura, BTM Layout and HSR Layout.
Bescom helpline unreachable
To add to the people's troubles, the Bescom helpline, 1912 was unreachable, leaving them with no choice but to wait out the ordeal.
I- Day holiday was saving grace
The only saving grace was that Tuesday was a holiday on account of Independence Day. Otherwise most people would have had a hard time reaching schools and offices.
Highest rainfall in 127 years!
Monday’s incessant rain has broke all previous rainfall records of the city. According to figures accessed from Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Centre (KSNDMC), Monday’s rainfall recorded at one of its station at Bilekahalli on Bannerghatta Road recorded 18.4cm, breaking the century old record of 16.6 cm recorded in the year 1890.
Compared with the Indian Meteorological Department’s three rainfall recording stations (City Station, HAL Airport and BIAL) KSNDMC has fourty rain gauges across the city and has an edge over IMD. While IMD’s City Station recorded a rainfall of 12.9cm, it HAL Airport recorded 14.4 cm. Sources from KSNDMC said that the rains in the city are set to continue. "Cyclonic trough in the Bay of Bengal which moved to the interiors of Karnataka have brought heavy rains to the city. Given the present weather scenario prevailing over the state, heavy rains are expected to continue on Wednesday too."
From Bruhat to ‘Sanna Bengaluru Chikkanagara Palike’
Although the BBMP claims it is carrying out desilting of drains and the anti-encroachment drive is underway as well, Monday night’s rain havoc in Bengaluru has revealed yet again that it is not doing the job expected of it.
Of the 633 major storm water drains covering 840 kms in the city, primary drains cover 415.5 kms and secondary drains, 424.5 kms. The BBMP claims it is working on reinforced cement concrete (RCC) box drains, U-shaped RCC retaining walls, and building bridges and culverts, besides desilting and fencing drains.
But unwilling to buy its claims anymore, Bengalureans are roundly blaming it for the mess the city sees every time it rains. "When the city saw areas like Avanisringeri and Kodichikkanahalli submerged in rain water in 2016 , why has nothing been done to prevent such flooding ?" they demand pertinently.
Many are disappointed that athough Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and BBMP officials came up with an anti-encroachment drive to save the city from future flooding, it has ended in a whimper.
"All the JCBs roared non-stop for a few days and then the drive was simply given up. And even when it was being done it was restricted to the poor while the rich and powerful were not touched," said an angry resident of Anugraha Layout near Kodichikkanahalli.
Mr Siddaramaiah is believed to have given an earful to to BBMP Commissioner, Manjunath Prasad for stopping the demolition drive during a review meeting last December. Now the civic agency claims the drive is on although there is no evidence of it.
BBMP Control Rooms flooded with calls
Phones kept on ringing at BBMP control rooms. Of the 10 control rooms except for the control rooms at RR Nagar, Yelankha and Dasarahalli kept ringing with complaints. The one at head office received over 800 calls and over 45 complaints relating to flooding, while the others too received hundreds of calls. While there were no exact figures on the number of trees uprooted, sources from control room said that over 50 trees could have been fallen.
Nothing Bruhat in action
- BBMP has 633 major storm water drains of 840 km length of which 415.5 km are primary drains and 424.5 kms are secondary drains.
- At a cost of Rs 800 crore (2016-17 and 2017-18) the civic body has taken up reinforced cement concrete (RCC) box drains, u shaped RCC retaining walls, bridges, culverts, desilting and fencing works.
- BBMP which failed to take up desilting before Monsoon and keep the drains ready for rains have led to this havoc on Monday.
- According to figures accessed from Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Centre (KSNDMC), Monday’s rainfall recorded at one of its station at Bilekahalli on Bannerghatta Road recorded 18.4cm, breaking the century old record of 16.6 cm recorded in the year 1890.
- BBMP which initially roared with JCB’s with its anti-encroachment have almost went silent but claims that demolition drive is an ongoing process.
- Citizens took to social medial Facebook and Twitter to express their anguish and shared pics of rain affected areas and gave suggestions too.
Some of the solutions citizens shared with DC during its rounds around the city
- Encroachments on shoulder drains and stormwater drains which are meant only to carry rainwater done by rich or poor should be dealt with iron hand.
- There is concrete everywhere, the city has been reduced to a jungle. Reduce the concrete usage. If all places like roads and footpaths are concretized then where will the rainwater go?
- In areas like Koramanagala, Indiranagar, Adugodi, Madiwala, Shanthinagar which were flooded we see rampant commercialisation. Footpaths and shoulder drains are remodeled at their convenience to extend their outlets and converting the space into a parking zone. This has to undone.
- Shoulder drains which are covered with concrete slabs should have holes.
- Evenly across the roads, footpaths and where ever possible at regular intervals city needs soak pits. All the runoff water will make its way into the nearby soak pits instead of flooding nearby areas and homes.
- Illegal dumping of garbage, concrete, animal wastes and others into drains and stormwater drains is another big crime. All such offenders should be penalized heavily and shamed so that it doesn’t repeat.
- Regular desilting of drains and stormwater drains.
- Cancel the license or approval of layouts and apartment complexes which do not have arrangements for carrying capacity of land.
- Even flyovers leak during heavy rains, which reflect how poorly they are engineered. Proper planning should be done and those without adequate arrangements for the proper flow of water and disaster management be not approved.