A motorist falls down in a water-logged pothole after heavy rainfall in Bangalore on October 5. (Bangalore News Photos)
Bangalore, Oct. 11: Four persons have died in the past nine days in Bangalore in accidents caused by potholes, bringing the Karnataka government under fire over alleged poor quality of metalling and corruption in road projects.
A day after chief minister and Congress leader P.C. Siddaramaiah instructed Bangalore development minister K.J. George, local MLAs and the city's municipal corporation to fill all 16,000 potholes dotting Bangalore's roads within 15 days, a 21-year-old woman became the fourth victim of accidents caused by craters late last evening.
All the accidents have happened on arterial roads, including a state highway.
G. Veena was riding pillion on a scooter with her sister, who swerved to avoid a giant pothole in Devanahalli on the northern outskirts of Bangalore and got hit from behind by a lorry. Veena was crushed under the lorry's wheels and her sister G. Lakshmi, 24, suffered serious injuries.
On Sunday, Radha Anjanappa, 47, was thrown off the pillion of the scooter of her nephew who had taken a sharp turn on seeing a pothole on Mysore Road, a state highway. Radha came under the wheels of a lorry. The nephew, Ravi Kumar, 24, was injured.
On October 2, a couple were run over by a bus when the husband, Anthony Joseph, 55, tried to negotiate a pothole on the Mysore Road flyover. He and his wife Sagai Mary, 53, died on the spot.
The condition of the roads has worsened following heavy, month-long rain in Bangalore.
Today, the Opposition BJP marched to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (municipal corporation) office demanding action against road department officials.
But Bangalore development minister George said he did not agree that all the four deaths had been caused by poor roads. "Some people are trying to portray them as pothole-related deaths and paint a poor picture of Bangalore. Don't say all accidents are because of potholes," George snapped, blaming the more-than-usual rain since August 15 and attacking the media for "anti-Bangalore statements".
"Can I hold an umbrella over the skies to stop the rain? Potholes cannot be filled if it continues to rain without a break," he said.
Senior BJP leader Suresh Kumar, who participated in the march, responded: "It's not the rain that's opening up all these potholes. It's the poor quality of the roads."
Former minister R. Ashok, another senior BJP leader, accused "deep-rooted corruption" for the deaths. "Corruption at all levels has given us poor quality roads, hence the potholes and the deaths. We are demanding that the government publish the names of the engineers and contractors who built these roads," Ashok said.