To control air pollution, BBMP builds water fountains instead of filling potholes

A preliminary report prepared by the KSPCB shows that BBMP has spent more on beautifying Bengaluru by putting up water fountains, sprinklers and painting walls, instead of filling up potholes.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

BENGALURU: Filling up potholes and maintaining good roads is not just a demand from motorists, but is also important to improve air quality. But in the state capital, the priorities of authorities seem to be different.

A preliminary report prepared by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) shows that Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has spent more on beautifying Bengaluru by putting up water fountains, sprinklers and painting walls, instead of filling up potholes.

The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and 15th Finance Commission allocate funds to cities, based on their respective population, to improve air quality. While Bengaluru gets funds from the latter, Hubballi, Dharwad and Davangere are allocated funds by NCAP.

“From 2020 till 2024, BBMP has allocated Rs 27.90 crore for water fountains and other beautification works, but Rs 19.53 crore for filling potholes. On the ground, the fountains are not working and as it is, they play no role in controlling air pollution,” said a KSPCB official.

BBMP got Rs 279 crore in 2020-21, Rs 147.35 crore in 2021-22, Rs 108.35 crore in 2022-23 and Rs 154 crore in 2023-24. BBMP has been given the task of apportioning money to other agencies, including BMTC and DULT, to improve roads and add electric buses. For 2024- 25, BBMP has prepared an action plan seeking Rs 265 crore.

But now as the programme comes to an end, BBMP, KSPCB and Urban Development Department officials are at loggerheads. “Before allocating more funds, CPCB is asking for a utilisation certification report of the works done. We have been repeatedly asking BBMP and UDD, but there has been no response,” the official said.

An analysis by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and experts shows that 52% of air pollution in cities is caused due to vehicular emission.

KSPCB had prepared a 44-point action plan for 2021-24 and funds had been allocated. “Keeping the old action plan as the base, a new plan has to be prepared. Works are being reviewed. Progress in Bengaluru has been poor. Potholes and bad roads continue to be a concern and vehicular emission continues to be high,” a CPCB official said.

Recently, Deputy Chief Minister and Bengaluru Development Minister DK Shivakumar said there are around 5,000 potholes in Bengaluru’s arterial roads.

BBMP Engineer in chief B Prahalad said the average cost of filling a pothole is Rs 400. It increases depending upon the size and depth of a pothole.

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