August 15, 2017 will be a date that Bengalureans, at least a half of them, would remember for the rest of their lives. As I woke up to a drizzly chilly morning, some others in a different part of the city were shocked to see their streets and even houses inundated by the overnight rainfall. 18 cms of rainfall, the highest ever recorded since 1890, and about half of the rainfall Bengaluru receives in the month of August, ensured that cars parked in the basements of swanky apartments drink their share of sewage and storm water.
A day later, things are still limping back to normalcy. There are stinking streets, some are still underwater. We are reading reports of how the government, the ministers and MLAs alike, the corporation’s bureaucrats, babus , the Chief Minister of the State (who behaves like he is the Mayor), Sir K J George (the Home Minister who thinks he owns Bengaluru) and the Mayor Miss Padmavathi were all busy attending to Rahul Baba who was here to taste Vangibath for a mere ₹10 in an Indira canteen – a new canteen chain launched by the government to serve the poor. Food that’s subsidized by the taxes we pay, in the form of income tax, property tax, betterment fees and what not.
What is the middle-class Bengaluruean getting back for what he pays? Waterlogged roads, potholed roads, streets dotted with filthy uncollected garbage lying there for weeks, unchecked commercial activities bringing down the quality of life in the city’s once serene residential areas.
So who’s to blame? The same taxpayers. The ones who don’t take matters into their hands to change the status quo. The ones who are scared to fight their neighbors when they sling a bag of garbage across the street from their houses located on the first, second and third floors of the buildings around you. The ones who pay the ‘hafta’ amount the water lineman collects to supply water once in a week or even a month – a fundamental right no one cares about. The ones who stay at home watching Arnab shout at the top of his voice even on election days. The ones who vote based on their ideological leanings and not based on common sense.
At the same time, you have
Dear Bengaluruean, these politicians have a free run because you don’t register either your votes or your protest. Previous elections have shown that only 45-55% of the registered voters from the city actually vote. With a large migrant voters registered elsewhere, this probably means only a third of Bengaluru’s citizens actually vote. You want things to happen magically in a city under corrupt administrators. The Constitution has given you the rights to vote someone out of power and bring in a deserving candidate, but that can happen only if you vote and vote sensibly. You should participate in protests, support the protest against lake encroachments, against dubious projects that serve vested interests and not that of the public.
And you as a citizen, shouldn’t forget your duties towards the city. Don’t buy a property that’s encroaching a storm water drain, don’t fall for the “Lakeview” tags of large apartment blocks that are guilty of releasing sewage into these drains and lakes without establishing a Sewage Treatment Plant. Don’t build a house on entire land available. Stop using plastic, recycle your wet waste, reuse the plastic you have, discard electronic waste. Don:t let the rainwater reach the drains, harvest rainwater on your rooftops, force your apartment builders to implement rainwater harvesting.
Bengaluru is dying as much because of you and not just because of a failed administration. Save your city from flooding. Wake up!