Once IT employees’ dream destination, Rainbow Drive Layout ‘sinks’ after torrential rain pounds Bengaluru

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When Wipro Limited, one of India’s tech giants, shifted its headquarters to the use tractors and rescue boats to on the outskirts of Bengaluru in the 1990s, the Rainbow Drive Layout in the neighbourhood that had just been developed, became the choice of residence for many techies. The layout has been in the news again this monsoon but not for the right reasons. The now-upscale area has been flooded after the IT capital received torrential rainfall in the last few days, forcing some residents to use tractors and rescue boats to travel for work or to reach safety.

Spread over 36 acres, the Rainbow Drive Layout has about 400 plots varying from 1,500 sq feet to 3,000 sq feet in size. It was a picturesque, open space with a lake next to it.

“The layout is located a stone’s throw away from the Halanayakanahalli lake. However, in the early years, we did not know that the layout would get flooded owing to its proximity to the lake,” said a resident.

An elderly woman is being helped in wading through a waterlogged road at Rainbow Drive Layout in Sarjapur Road, Bengaluru on Aug. 30. (Express Photo)

With other IT companies following Wipro Limited’s cue and shifting their offices to Sarjapur Main Road, the area soon turned into an IT hub, but real estate development in the vicinity obstructed the flow of water into the lake near the Rainbow Drive Layout (RDL). Also, the height of the Sarjapur Main Road along the layout increased by at least three feet over the decades, worsening the chances of flooding in the locality.

On August 30, an elderly RDL resident passed away as he could not be taken to the hospital in time owing to flooding in the colony. Flooding has occurred repeatedly in the area in the past decade but it has worsened this year, said the residents.

“This is the first time there was flooding in the property. Earlier, there was not much of a problem. The residents have a strong community bonding and it is mandatory for each house constructed here to have a rainwater well. The property has around 985 trees and about 50 bird species live here. The layout is entirely water sustainable as we do not require other water sources throughout the year. It obviously draws the attention of buyers,” said Anand Natarajan, president of the Rainbow Drive Layout Owners Association.

Natarajan was one of the early birds to buy a plot and construct a house in the RDL in 2001.

According to local officials, the Halanayakanahalli lake located in the vicinity of the Rainbow Drive Layout has breached for the first time in 30 years and this has made the situation worse.

The Halanayakanahalli lake is the connecting lake for Junnasandra lake and Saul Kere lake. However, when Junnasandra lake overflows, the water does not entirely reach Halanayakanahalli lake because of the encroachment of its channel, among others, said a resident.

He added that the entire layout has not been flooded but about 20-25 houses are affected as drain water gushed into the buildings and the entry point to the layout in the north got flooded. “We have now provided an entry at the south end of the property and are taking measures to address the issue,” the owners association said.

Despite the layout being in news for all the wrong reasons, local real estate agents said the market price for properties in the area have not been adversely affected. Anjanappa, a local broker, said: “Even today, the land price here is about Rs 7,000 to Rs 9,000 per square feet because of the locality and its proximity to several places including schools, colleges and hospitals.”