I was away from home for a fortnight to convalesce at my daughter’s place after my cataract surgery. When I came back the eyesore that met my super clear eyes first was a heap of dried, rotten twigs and branches outside my compound wall. I cursed the Electricity department who were the usual culprits for lopping off the branches of the trees that touch the electric lines and leaving them in front of our houses with no thought of ever clearing them.
As a first step I appealed to the Corporation sweeper on duty in my area to clear it. As expected, she frankly refused to do it. She also told me that unless she got direct instructions from the highly elusive ‘Super’ she could not and would not take action. Added to this I was already aware of the perpetual ‘passing the buck’ between BBMP and BESCOM (Civic and Electrical departments) whenever garbage accumulated on the roadside after the periodic lopping of the trees.
I went on Internet and managed to find the Complaint section of Bangalore Corporation guaranteeing action within 30 minutes. After going through the usual rigmarole of ‘Press 1 for…’ ‘Press 2.. etc’ common to Call centers, I finally found a lady who took my complaint and ensured that help would be there within an hour. I waited half a day for the help that never came. When I rang them up again, a male voice very courteously told me that help would surely arrive in a couple of hours.
I had to wait for 3 days before a man came on a motor bike. Why is that people in Bangalore can never find your house unless at least 6 calls have passed between his ‘mobile’ and your phone asking for the location? Without getting down from his bike he asked me, “Where is the fallen tree?” I told him that I never mentioned a fallen tree in my complaint but had asked for the heap of old branches and twigs to be cleared. Derisively he took a look at the rotting lot and said, “We are not responsible for clearing this. We cut only trees fallen due to wind or rain. It is the job for Bescom people.” He also rang up his boss giving him the triviality of my complaint. When I argued with him about the inefficiency of their departments he promised to forward the complaint to the Corporation people but then it would take some time- SOME TIME INDEED!
Later when I discussed the problem with my servant maid she confessed that BESCOM had nothing to do with it. It was she who during my fortnight’s absence from home had dumped the branches when she trimmed the plants in my garden. She had expected that the Corporation sweeper would haul it away as a matter of course. In the meantime the incessant rains had reduced the vernal garbage into an ugly, damp mass. Since it was my maid’s mistake, I made her clear all the leaves from the branches and dump them in the household wet garbage bin and asked her to get rid of the denuded twigs somewhere. Next day the road sweeper cleared the overflowing garbage bin without a whimper.
After about a month a call came from (presumably) Corporation office asking if I had a fallen tree to be cleared. I told him that I was utterly disappointed with their lack of prompt action and that I had got it cleared myself. I also told him that I was taking back the complaint.
Two weeks later another call came, this time a lady asking me if I had complained about a fallen tree. I had to tell her about the cancellation of my complaint.
Heaven knows how many more conscientious souls in Bangalore Corporation will be ringing me about the fallen tree in days to come. HAIL SWACHCH BHARAT.