Techies march in pothole protest

Perils of whitefield

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 1.12.15
Techies march to International Tech Park in Whitefield in Bangalore on Monday; (below) a pothole on the way. Bangalore News Photos

Bangalore, Nov. 30: Tech hub Whitefield isn't worried so much about usual bugbears like falling Web traffic as it is about the traffic outside.

That challenge was underlined this morning when thousands of techies hit the streets to highlight the state of the roads and demand better transport facilities to the showpiece cluster.

"I came to Bangalore two years ago thrilled, thinking I was heading to India's IT hub. But I don't think much about this place any more as public amenities are very poor and the roads very dangerous," said Kamal Bahety, who hails from Calcutta and works for a firm in Whitefield.

In his late twenties, Bahety was among the multitude of over 2,000 men and women who marched to the International Tech Park Ltd - the country's first technology park that started operations in 1998 - in Whitefield in Bangalore's first such protest against poor roads in recent memory. They were united under the hashtag #Save Whitefield.

Bahety, who like many in the crowd had taken time off work to join the march, explained his travails. "I take 40 minutes on my scooter to cover 2km during peak hours from home to office, that too after I shifted to Hoodi (a place closer to work) from Kundanahalli (4km away). I can't just quit and leave the city. I thought it is better to join the march for our rights."

A rash of accidents over the past few months set alarm bells ringing, the perils brought to the fore most by the death of a woman techie who died in September after being thrown off a scooter she was riding pillion with her husband as it skidded while trying to dodge a giant crater near Marathahalli, barely 5km from Whitefield.

Stuti Pandey Tripathi, 25, died of head injuries while husband Om Prakash, 28, nursed a fractured arm and bruises. Worse, he has been charged with causing death by negligence, sparking an outcry against police.

Om Prakash was not part of today's protest. "I didn't know about it, otherwise I would have participated . I wish something comes through this... there are too many potholes," he told The Telegraph, adding he was yet to recover from the shock of losing his wife.

Last Thursday, a 19-year-old died when his scooter hit a giant crater, leading to a fall in which he suffered fatal head injuries in spite of wearing a helmet. The same day, a 47-year-old man broke his arm after his two-wheeler hit a pothole. Recent rains have made the roads worse.

TCS techie Niranjan Chandrashekar said many like him were ready to pitch in with Rs 5,000 each for the railways to start a service from Bangalore City junction to Whitefield as a short-term measure. "Let them operate a few local trains during rush hours so we don't have to use our bikes and risk these roads."

The #Save Whitefield group, under which today's protesters were mobilised, has demanded that 30 key roads in the area be laid afresh in three months and all sidewalks be repaired in 30 days.

Zibi Jamal, among the organisers of today's protest, said the aim was to tell leaders and the authorities that people would not take such apathy anymore. "We have suffered for too long," said Jamal who lives in Whitefield and commutes 15km to M.G. Road in the city's central business district.