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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2005, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Rains drown India's hi-tech hub

By Sunil Raman
BBC News, Bangalore

Motorcyclist in Bangalore
Motorists were urged to stay off the roads in Bangalore
When IT companies began their annual meeting on Wednesday in India's technology hub of Bangalore, infrastructure concerns were always likely to be high on the agenda.

Sadly for the city's authorities, Mother Nature chose to emphasise those concerns with four days of incessant rains and streets full of water.

Bangalore is used to rain most of the year. But every time there is a heavy downpour and areas get flooded, the government comes up with the same response: blame the rain god.

Only two months ago continuous rain hit the city for six hours. Authorities promised to clear what roadside drains there are of garbage or building materials.

But in the latest downpour police have had to call in army engineers to clear debris and rescue marooned residents.

Kishore Chander, a senior police official, said there was so much water in some places people could not see the road.

Six people have so far been killed in Bangalore.

Without power

Traffic police enlisted the help of mobile operators to send text messages to people urging them not to venture out in cars.

Three big lakes in the city have overflowed into residential areas. In some places the water is a metre high.

"We told you so," is the reaction of many who warned the government against carrying on with poorly planned development.

A city that once boasted of 260 lakes now has only 60.

Environmentalist Suresh Heblinkar says as a result of "haphazard and lopsided" development the free flow of water has been halted.

Many residential areas on the outskirts of the city are still without power and water supply.

Vasuki, a resident of HSR Layout, says: "Corporation officials say they are helpless. My house is eight kilometres from the lake but I am badly affected."

The state government has asked the federal government for help.

Karnataka Chief Minister Dharam Singh wants five billion rupees ($111m) to deal with 900km of damaged roads, 15 breached irrigation canals and to provide help to farmers who lost 3,000 acres of crops.

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