Wednesday, February 26, 2014

An Open Letter to the BBMP

Dear BBMP,

As a user of your roads and pavements, I was very happy with you last year. You improved every single stretch of road that I use on my daily commute to office. When you re-did Old Madras Road and made it sparkling blue so that I could whizz along it and reach office in just ten minutes, my heart rejoiced. I read that the Chief Minister had said that Bangalore's roads were his priority, and I was so happy with him! Finally, I thought, Bangalore would recover from the neglect it had suffered under the previous government.

But now I'm very pissed off with you, BBMP. It's a small matter, but an irksome one.

For context, let me refer you to this blog post of mine, in which I've spoken about my ten-minute walk home from the bus-stop. The 'pavement' used to be a muddy stretch by the side of the road. It was dangerous (because I had to walk on the road at some points) and dirty (on rainy days), but at least it was better than nothing.

But now, thanks to you, it's become worse than nothing.

I'll grant you this - you started out with good intentions. One fine day, as I was coming home, I saw that my muddy stretch had been blocked off with paving stones. Clearly, you were planning to build a pavement there. I was happy. Finally, I thought, I'll be able to walk on a proper pavement and not just a muddy excuse for one.

Over the next few days, I happily watched the progress you were making. I gave my mental blessings and encouragement to the workers as they they filled the future pavement first with mud and then with small stones. During these days, we pedestrians had to walk on the road, of course, but we didn't mind. On a couple of mornings, traffic jams increased because of the piles of mud and rubble the workers left behind on the road, but we didn't mind that either. A few days' sacrifice in order to enjoy a lifetime of easy walking, we thought.

This was back in December, by the way. Mid-December, I think. During the last week of December, I went off on a ten-day vacation. Progress on the pavements had been slow, but I was hopeful that by the time I came back in January, everything would be ready.

Alas - you dashed my hopes with nary a care. It's almost March now, and the pavements are still as they were two months ago. I've lost hope of them ever improving. And the tragedy is that it's only the last step that needs to be completed - the laying of large pavement slabs over the already prepared pavements. Why this delay, BBPM? Is it that you forgot to order those pavement stones? Is your vendor taking a long time?

You know what, I really don't care why. All I know is that that non-existent pavement is endangering my life. My choice is between walking on those little pointy pieces of stone that you've so helpfully filled the pavement with (and twisting an ankle if I'm not careful) and walking on the road. I usually choose the latter. If there is an accident involving a pedestrian on that stretch, BBMP, you know who's responsible.

This may seem like a small matter to you. The lack of pavements on 600 meters of road? That's nothing compared to all the other work you've done over the past few months. But you know why it matters? Because this is for the pedestrians. All that road laying and tarring and what not that you did? That was for the car users - yes, we bus users benefited as well, but we know who you really had in mind. When it comes to the pedestrians,  you really don't give a damn. But if we bus-users and pedestrians all switched to cars one day (as I for one am increasingly tempted to do), then where would you be, BBMP? It's in YOUR interests to make things easy for us. Remember that.

Warm Regards,
A Concerned Citizen
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