Panathur road: Where traffic jams never end, even at midnight

It takes hours to cross Panathur road, a 6-km ‘shortcut’ connecting ORR with ITPL. At several stretches here, two cars can’t pass by at the same time. Yet, huge apartments are approved along this road, and restricted heavy vehicles allowed to ply

” City – A city is a large human settlement. Cities generally have extensive systems for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, land use, and communication. Their density facilitates interaction between people, government organizations and businesses, sometimes benefiting different parties in the process.” (vocabulary.com)

Bengaluru has many things to cherish – its beautiful climate, cosmopolitan atmosphere, major IT companies, gardens, lakes and more. 

But this article is about another side of Bengaluru, or rather, the real side of Bengaluru. The Bengaluru that has poor traffic management, unplanned layouts, and roads where two cars cannot go at a time. Panathur road exemplifies this side of Bengaluru.

A ‘shortcut’ between ORR and ITPL

Panathur Road is an interior road that originates from Kadubeesanahalli (near Marathahalli) at Outer Ring Road (ORR), and connects to Varthur near Whitefield. It’s perhaps most commonly used by office goers commuting to the IT companies located between Whitefield and Bellandur.

Panathur road connects Kadubeesanahalli at ORR, to Varthur

The Bellandur Road railway station, mainly used by commuters to Hosur, also lies adjacent to Panathur road.

The road is just about 6 kms long, but it can take hours to cross, depending on the traffic. Along many stretches of this road, two cars cannot pass side-by-side at a time.

From a desolate corner to one of the busiest areas in Bengaluru

Until a few years ago, Panathur was almost a no man’s land, and very few commuted through this area. Forward to now, as the number of companies – and correspondingly the workforce – along ORR and at ITPL has increased, this road has become one of the busiest stretches in Bengaluru.

Naturally, as the crowd increased, real estate too picked up along the road. Now, even bigger players like Sobha have invested here, in properties such as Sobha Dream Acres.

The above might explain how an area gets ‘developed’ with the arrival of companies nearby. All good.

But it’s important to ask a few questions before we examine the woes of the commuters and residents along Panathur Road:

On some stretches of Panathur road, buildings almost lie upon the road. Pic: Neeraj

  • Did BBMP check accessibility or feasibility before giving approvals to the apartments coming up along the road?
  • Did they check if the road can accommodate thousands of vehicles at a time? Rather, did they check if the road can at least accommodate two cars at a time, before approving apartments?
  • Did the authorities check if public transport is feasible through this road?

The answer is, never! These questions were not considered.

The fallout

The outcome of this neglect is massive traffic jams. Besides, this area has a good deal of groundwater which makes it a mecca for water tankers. These private tankers act as a catalyst for traffic bottlenecks.

To prevent the traffic situation from affecting apartment sales, builders have deployed private security guards at both sides of the road. These guards use walkie-talkies, and allow only vehicles towards one direction to pass at a time.

Sign board indicating restricted timings for water tankers. Pic: Neeraj

This arrangement clearly wasn’t enough. But nothing was done, until two lives were taken – a 12-year-old boy and a 25-year-old youngster.

Post the accident, candlelight protests were held, and as a result,  two traffic police personnel were assigned to Panathur road. Water tankers were restricted too – they were not allowed to ply here between 7 to 11 am and 4 to 8 pm. A sign board indicating the timing restrictions was placed here as well.

But, nothing has changed

Water tankers seem to consider the sign as a decor item. You can still see tankers in queue during the restricted timings, alongside other vehicles. The traffic police are unable to stop them.

The situation worsens after 8 pm since there are no traffic police personnel or security guards to monitor vehicles then. 

Traffic at around 1 am. Pic: Neeraj

So you never know if you will get stuck in the middle of the road, or if you will be lucky enough to reach the other end anytime soon. Even at 1-2 am, it takes hours to reach either end of the road.

There is a traffic signal post at both ends of Panathur road, but these aren’t functional. Even if these are made operational, it would be unrealistic to expect any positive outcome.

A new road, but problems persist

A new parallel road has been built, that starts from Disha Park West along Panathur road, and connects to the road leading to Croma, Marathahalli.

This ‘Croma road’ has come as a big relief to commuters. But this is only a temporary arrangement – commuters have to go through a duct beneath a railway bridge, that gets waterlogged occasionally. Last week, this duct was flooded, which left vehicles including school buses stranded for hours.

The duct on Croma Road gets waterlogged occasionally. Pic: Neeraj

Though heavy vehicles are restricted on Croma road, water tankers are common here too. Several borewells have been dug on the roadside, and tankers draw water from these. What seems like a lake bed is also being levelled along the road. The road is already on the verge of damage because of heavy vehicles.

Solution anytime?

In short, the only permanent solution to the woes of commuters and residents along Panathur road, is widening of the road. An additional duct is needed at the stretch near Bellandur railway station too.

After continued demands and protests from residents, BBMP has promised to widen Panathur road. Apparently Rs 7 cr has been allocated for the works as well, but no work has started yet. It remains to be seen when Panathur’s woes will be resolved, if ever!

[Citizen Matters recently asked regular commuters along Panathur road to share their experiences. Here’s what they had to say]

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