Where’s the science for people’s safety, well-being?

Ground realities indicate that the pathetic lack of science that exposes the common citizen to potentially fatal risks has nothing to do with which party is at the helm.
The average Bengalurean remains exposed to a constant threat while in the public domain.
The average Bengalurean remains exposed to a constant threat while in the public domain. Express Illustration

Has there ever been an audit conducted in Bengaluru on the safety and well-being of its citizens? Had it been done, it would have revealed that the city, considered the “Science Capital of India”, has no semblance of application of science or logic to ensure their safety and well-being in the public domain.

Poor road design, unscientifically planned subways which flood during heavy rains, lack of footpaths forcing citizens to walk on the roads in the path of speeding vehicles, encroached footpaths wherever they do exist, loosely hanging electric cables, live electric wires left exposed at ground level threatening children and adults alike, trees with weak branches which threaten to crack skulls, inappropriately laid zebra crossings leaving pedestrians confused about where to cross (if they ever follow them) ... the list goes on.

It implies that the average Bengalurean remains exposed to a constant threat while in the public domain. The same exists in many other cities across the state as well as in the country. But the stark irony of that happening in Namma Bengaluru, where science rules – at least within the innumerable government and private laboratories that the city boasts of – should be a slap in the face of the authorities and citizens of this city alike for failing to apply it to ensure people’s safety.

Over the past few months, mass leaders, political representatives as well as those aspiring to follow in their footsteps, have ruled the roost while crisscrossing the city and the state seeking and begging for votes from people. But the same people – the voters – being vulnerable to the lack of science in town planning and utility services, is something that needs to be red-flagged as it fails to occur to the powers that be, and to the people themselves.

It is one thing when political leaders belonging to different ideologies and party loyalties hurl charges at each other for lacking a scientific temper. But ground realities indicate that the pathetic lack of science that exposes the common citizen to potentially fatal risks has nothing to do with which party is at the helm. The threat existed, persists and will continue to persist – because the ruling dispositions inherently look at science as something alien to their thinking, and apparently keep it on the backburner when it comes to planning the city and its utility services.

Take the “concept of footpaths” for instance. It is almost as if it does not exist in the mental spaces of the ministers, legislators or the bureaucrats. There is a failure in the basic understanding that lack of footpaths means pedestrians – including elders and children – being forced to walk on the roads meant for vehicle movement, where our motorists drive, ride or use their vehicles to display idiotic stunts.

On the part of the pedestrians, where does plain science and logic vanish when they walk on the roads with kids on the traffic side, exposing them to being run over by rash motorists, of which there is no dearth of?

Congestion on the roads is often blamed on the civic authorities. True, that in many cases science is lacking in road design. But however well they are planned – or not – the sheer lack of application of logic and a bit of basic science by the motorists is enough to cause congestion. Many motorists realise too late that matter cannot pass through matter. A vehicle cannot pass through another vehicle coming from the opposite direction.

That is the reason they overtake other vehicles ahead of them (they understand science up till this point), get into the lane meant for traffic headed in the opposite direction (this is where they go dud on science), and end up creating a traffic jam when vehicles approaching in the opposite direction meet them face-to-face. That’s when realisation dawns that matter cannot pass through matter. Simple science ignored, leading to noise pollution with a cacophony of shrill horns and exchange of abusive words.

Look at the new giant constructions around. They look impressive, comparable with similar structures in the West, glass facades and all – but without a thought to how these contribute to ‘heat islands’ in their respective neighbourhoods.

“Water crisis,” people screamed till they went blue in their faces a few days ago. So where is a sincere pursuit of having rainwater harvesting systems installed to mitigate that problem?

Science pervades everything. We depend on it in medicine, engineering, information technology, sports...everything in our lives. Why then is it not applied to ensure safety of people on the roads? It’s something that the government as well as we, the people, need to think about.

Nirad Mudur

Deputy Resident Editor, Karnataka

niradgmudur@newindianexpress.com

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