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While Bangalore has been perennially synonymous with traffic, the rains have made matters worse, amplifying the city’s poor infrastructure to the next level. In the last few days, #BangaloreRains and #BangloreFloods have been trending on Twitter, with people posting disturbing visuals and expressing their anger on the internet.
According to a few industry groups, Bengaluru’s crumbling infrastructure has caused millions in productivity losses locally. According to Outer Ring Road Companies Association (ORRCA), IT companies in the city lost over $28 million (INR 225 crore) in a single day on August 30, 2022, as the employees were stuck in traffic jams for over five hours.
ORRCA is an industry body representing all major IT and banking companies on the stretch of the outer ring road. It claimed that more than half a million professionals are employed along the Outer Ring Road (ORR) between Central Silk Board and the K.R.Puram corridor along with various support services and indirect employment. The OOR corridor, which measures about 17 km, employs one million people, as per the data by ORRCA.
Accessed by Analytics India Magazine, the industry body’s letter to state chief minister Basavaraj Bommai expresses genuine concerns. “ORR IT generates revenue of ~$22 billion per annum (32 per cent of Bengaluru’s revenue) and is the highest tax contributor. However, the lack of focus on development of the infrastructure in this corridor is appalling,” reads the letter.
Further, the industry body said that poor infrastructure on this corridor is bringing down the companies’ efficiency and productivity, putting employee safety and wellbeing at risk.
So, what’s the solution?
The industry body said that inadequate infrastructure on ORR has reached a crisis level. Despite 30% of the ORR population returning to working from the office, the collapse of the infrastructure has drawn global concern on the city of Bengaluru’s ability to handle further growth,” shared Krishna Kumar, general manager of Outer Ring Road Companies Association (ORRCA).
Now, the member companies of ORR have initiated emergency business continuity plans and work from home, and a few of the companies have transferred critical work to locations outside of Bengaluru and Karnataka, causing reputational and economic damages to the city and the state—bound to worsen if the situation persists.
The industry body said that the companies would look for alternate destinations if the infrastructure issues do not improve.
Further, it called for a clear roadmap to improve the current situation of infrastructure and urged the government to engage with ORRCA regularly and provide transparency on plan vs progress.
ORCA suggested the following guidelines:
- Publish a report on the current gap in infrastructure/utilities that is unable to meet the demand of this corridor.
- Provide short-term, medium- and long-term plans to address challenges with timelines.
- Convene a joint coordination committee composed of all civil authorities (DULT, BBMP, BWSSB, BMTC. BMRCL, BTP etc.) chaired by the Addl Chief Secretary to review the infrastructure improvement plan versus progress in monthly coordination meetings.
- Expedite improvement projects on key arterial roads to outer ring road ORR—e.g., Old airport road, ITPL road, and Varthur road. Our staff regularly uses these roads, and they have several underpass/flyover projects that are significantly delayed or cancelled.
- Provide detailed ORR BMRCL 2A metro rail project timelines to be shared and strictly adhered to.
- Ensure maintenance of the main carriageway, service roads and all feeder roads to ORR to ensure seamless traffic movements during the construction phase.
Recently, the Karnataka CM visited the distressed areas to assess the situation in and around the outer ring road (ORR).
Today, the state government is planning to meet representatives of the tech companies, including Infosys, Wipro, Emphasis, Goldman Sachs, Intel, TCS, Philips and others, to participate and share grievances.
This is not the first time. Several instances of planned road infrastructure/initiatives have been stalled, which has only aggravated the issues on ORR. The industry body noted that in 2019, the then CM had visited ORR and approved several projects to ease pressure on ORR traffic. However, the progress has been really slow.
“ORRCA’s requests made in 2019 to the chief minister are still pending,” shared Kumar, pointing at multiple unfinished tasks. This includes the improvement of 19 ORR sub arterial roads, which were supposed to ease traffic on ORR during the construction phase. However, the industry body noted that the roads were still not completed, and the quality of roads was very poor, making them non-motorable.
In addition, the association had asked to improve the high-density corridor road. This was supposed to be a long-term solution/alternative to ORR traffic issues. Unfortunately, the approval got cancelled, and no alternative solution was proposed to provide a long-term solution.
Besides these, ORRCA had also asked the authorities to explain steps to manage OR traffic flow during the Metro construction phase. However, their requests still have not been implemented. The list goes on and on.
‘Nothing’ has changed
Another letter accessed by AIM noted that the industry body had sent a letter to the development commissioner Mahindra Jain, IAS, in 2017, alongside former chief minister Siddaramaiah, and other ministers, including KJ George, RV Deshpande, and Priyank M Kharge, highlighting the infrastructure flaws and helplessness of the flooding situation.
Prior to this, it had also written a letter to BMP about the need to desilting a drain near the eco-space. But, the authorities took no action at the time, and the roads were eventually flooded. From then till now, nothing much has changed.
“All of this is impacting brand Bengaluru as there is a growing sense that Bengaluru is at risk with inadequate infrastructure vis-a-vis other destinations; with increasing social media coverage, the situation is being closely monitored by CEOs—many of whom sit in other parts of India or elsewhere in the world,” said the president of ORRCA, in a letter to development commissioner in 2017.