Revanasiddappa Manjunath, the head priest of Mahadeshwara Swamy Temple in Ranganathpura in Bangalore is suffering from skin allergy and has to visit the doctor at least once in 15 days.
Along with more than 1,000 devotees who visit the temple daily, the priest has to put up with unbearable stench and swarms of mosquitoes besides the danger of slipping and falling into the open storm water drain which runs adjacent to the temple.
"The stench, dirt and the muck have caused allergic reaction on my skin," Mr. Manjunath said and pointed out that other residents of the area have been confronted by this health hazard for years now, but were unable to prevail upon the authorities to do something about the issue.
So edgy are residents in the area that during the recent spell of rain they feared that two missing children had been washed away in the drain. But fortunately they were found playing in a neighbour's house.
"Sharadamma (the mother of the children) was lucky. But there could be loss of life for sure if the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP, the civic authority) does not wake up," R. Jayalakshmi, who runs a flour mill in the area, said.
It is a major storm water drain into which not only sewage flows but fecal matter is also washed into it from the residential units that have come up all along the route of the drain.
Instead of constructing retaining walls on either side of the drain or closing it, the the civic authorities have only stacked sandbags along the drain. But that is too weak a defence, many point out.
A former corporator of Govindrajnagar, G. Krishnappa, during whose tenure the drain repair work was sanctioned, says that the contractor entrusted with the work, performed puja thrice, but never started work.
"Tenders for the proposal to cover the drain with deck slabs and lay concrete on the road at a cost of Rs. 44.5 lakh were called for two years ago. The work was re-tendered twice as there were not enough bidders.
"The work order was allotted to a contractor in November 2006. But with no proper supervision by BBMP officials, the open drain has become a death-trap for residents," Krishnappa said.
BBMP Executive Engineer Rangaswamy denied that the drain work was allotted to anyone. "We will call for short-term tenders shortly to cover the drain and ensure safety of residents," he said confidently.