This WhatsApp Group Has Resolved 500+ Civic Issues Across Bengaluru – From Bumpy Roads To Faulty Drainage

Sayantani Nath Karnataka

August 23rd, 2019 / 6:16 PM

Public Issues Forum

Image credits: The New Indian Express, Indian Wire, EdexLive

One of the most beautiful and developed cities in India has to be Bengaluru. The pleasant weather alongside the meteoric growth of the metropolis has turned it into the home for millions. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Bengaluru can give a tough competition to the topmost cities in the world if adjudged on the basis of standard urban parameters.  

However, the city too has her share of recurring issues – ranging from sociopolitical to environmental. The city’s municipal corporation BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) definitely works with commendable alacrity. To make their task way lot easier, a non-partisan citizen’s group has taken up the onus to “improve governance in Bengaluru and to enhance the quality of life of every Bengalurean.” For the past few years, Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC) has been a frontrunner in identifying, training and spotlighting civic warriors, who truly dedicate their time for the comfort of the people. The Logical Indian’s latest series identifies a few of the exemplary leaders at B.PAC. 

Today, we are featuring Girish B Puttanna from Jakkur, who created Public Issues Forum – a social media-based citizen’s group that has been solving civic issues across the city for the past two years. They conduct their daily operations and coordination through a WhatsApp group. 

Public Issues Forum
Girish B Puttanna

Why the Public Issues Forum Stands Out

During the construction of a Rajakaluve (stormwater drain) beside Amruthahalli Lake in North Bengaluru, the sewage pipe accidentally broke open. The pristine clear lake was soon contaminated with a slurry of untreated sewage. BBMP workers tried to control the sewage flow into the lake by raising temporary mud mounds. But those not only failed to control the situation, rather worsened it more by driving piles of contaminated mud into the lake water.

Residents of the area soon grew concerned seeing how their beautiful neighbourhood lake was degrading at an alarming rate. They approached BBMP, only to be disappointed. That’s when the Public Issues Forum intervened.

“We brought together local people, BBMP officials as well as corporators of the area to help them understand the scenario. Finally, after considerable efforts from all stakeholders, the lake is now being restored through various measures and the sewage channel is also being diverted,” informs Mr Puttanna, in a conversation with The Logical Indian

Public Issues Forum

They Solved Over 500 Issues In Two Years

This is just one among around 500 issues that have been resolved through Public Issues Forum by Girish B Puttanna and his army of 170 public warriors.

“I used to notice how the authorities were often in the dark about public issues arising from time to time. At the same time, there were many conscious citizens who actively sought a solution to their problems, but we’re not sure where to report or whom to approach,” Mr Puttanna informs the story behind the launch of the forum.  

Public Issues Forum

He started the Public Issues Forum on October 2017. After interacting with Residents’ Welfare Associations and Apartment Complex Societies throughout the city, Mr Puttanna gradually identified the pattern of their problems and analysed the possible solutions. He designated around 170 individuals as public representatives from each of these localised associations and integrated them in the WhatsApp group. 

Every representative from one neighbourhood acts as a point of contact between the local inhabitants and the civic authorities. They report all the issues in their localities – be it unsafe roads, improper drainage or irregular water and power supply. The issue is discussed at the Public Issues Forum and accordingly concerned officials from BBMP or even BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board) and BESCOM (Bangalore Electricity Supply Company), are intimated about it. The members make sure to keep the pursuit active until and unless the problem is completely resolved.

Looping In All Stakeholders Together

It was always a hassle for the residents of Vidyaranyapura to reach Goraguntepalya (Yeshwanthpur) metro station. So they started a signature campaign, with support from Public Issues Forum, demanding a feeder bus from BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation). Finally, in December 2018, BMTC launched feeder buses at peak hours plying between the two locations. It was an astounding victory for the campaigning citizens. 

Public Issues Forum
The feeder bus

“We do rope in elected representatives of an area at times, mostly when there is a confusion between municipality departments about the liability of the problem. Then we bring together all the involved entities and try to reach a solution agreed upon by everyone. But, at any time, the citizens remain our first and foremost stakeholders,” explains Mr Puttanna. 

Citizens Are The Foremost Priority

Another significant issue taken up by the forum includes the narrow drainage system near Thanisandra railway underpass which led to the overflow of dirty water onto the road every time. “The drains were barely six inches wide. Naturally, they used to overflow almost all the time. No matter how many times the road was freshly tarred, the tar would wash away within days,” Mr Puttanna narrates.

Public Issues ForumThanks to their intervention, the drainage is being widened now by BBMP. A similar issue of sewage flowing out in the open main road was also resolved by the forum members at MCECHS Layout in Jakkur. 

The Logical Indian Take

Day in and day out, troubles from the nooks and corners of the city keep pouring in the WhatsApp and Facebook groups of Public Issues Forum. The members have seen the remarkable success of their citizen activism. They strive to ensure the proper functioning of all authorities as well as increased basic awareness among citizens. The Logical Indian applauds this wonderful initiative and wishes other metropolises of India replicate similar citizen-driven programmes to resolve their issues at the earliest. 

If you are interested to make a positive impact for Bengaluru and her people, you can register with B.PAC Civic Leadership Incubator Program (B.CLIP) – a flagship initiative which trains you to be a civic leader. After a period of rigorous training and mentoring through classrooms and field projects, one can be eligible to contest in municipal elections or support the citizens in an individual capacity as a conscious public representative. For more details, visit http://bit.ly/bpacbclip.

Also Read: Fought Against Potholes, Became Its Victim: Story Of A Bengaluru Activist

With #MySocialResponsibility, we aim to bring you more inspiring stories of individuals and organisations across the globe. If you also know about any changemakers, share their story at [email protected] and we'll spread the word.


Contributors

Written by : Sayantani Nath

Edited by : Bharat Nayak

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