On Wednesday, dozens of house owners at the plush Epsilon Residential Villas at Yemalur — one of the worst flood-affected residential locations in Bengaluru following heavy rain since September 4 — paced the lawns with worried frowns or sipped tea from paper cups provided by a local caterer.
Barely 50 metres away from the lawn over 50 luxury homes, which are part of the Epsilon Residential Villa complex in Yemalur in south-east Bengaluru, lay abandoned after flood water rose to a height of over 8 feet and even entered the first floor of many of the duplex houses.
The plush gated community is home to the likes of businessmen and top corporate managements such as Rishad Premji of Wipro Ltd, Varun Berry of Britannia Industries, Byju Raveendran of Byjus, Ashok Genomal of Page Industries (Jockey) and several other top businessmen, residents said.
The stranded families at Epsilon were all rescued and evacuated by Tuesday morning by the Fire and Rescue Services. Most of them have shifted to rented places or at the houses of their friends or relatives.
“We were evacuated on Monday evening as the water level began to rise. We have moved to a relative’s house. The Fire and Rescue Services have been the lifeline for most people in the villas,” said a senior government official and a resident of Epsilon since 2020.
They are pinning their hopes on the Fire and Rescue Services boats that were engaged in pumping out water from the colony. “Since Wednesday morning efforts have been on to pump the water out of the villas. Yet, the water level is not receding. More water seems to be entering the property. At the furthest end the water has reached the first floor. Garages which are on the ground floor have been all submerged,” said a worker at the villa complex.
It was impossible to reach Epsilon and another nearby gated community ‘Divyasree 77 degree East’ on Monday and Tuesday without jeeps, tractors or trucks as the access roads and its surrounding areas were submerged. Though the situation changed on Wednesday after the access roads became dry and motorable, the villas at Epsilon remained marooned.
“There have been minor incidents of flooding in the past but nothing like this. We have been forced out of our home and had to find other places to stay since the water began rising on Monday. This is a result of unregulated constructions on storm water drains and lake beds,” said the managing director of a services firm and member of the Epsilon owners association on condition of anonymity.
“We have not done anything illegal but new properties around us have blocked drainage systems resulting in water logging in our property,” the association member said.
Price of property here is Rs 8 crore upwards!
— Rakesh Prakash (@rakeshprakash1) September 6, 2022
Many residents have pointed out that the flooding is a consequence of the construction of a massive tech park and luxury villa complex next door. “This is a classic case of the politician-builder nexus,” an Epsilon resident said.
While the villas at Epsilon are flooded, an apartment complex which is located at a higher point in the property remains intact.
The properties at Epsilon are priced between Rs 10 crore and Rs 20 crore. The luxury property stands on the banks of the Bellandur and Yemalur lakes, which started overflowing due to the downpour in the past few days – a main reason for the flooding. Another reason is considered to be the emergence of new constructions. The overflowing water, which would normally go downstream to the Varthur Lake has seen a back flow due to the lack of drainage routes resulting in the flooding at the villas.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai visited the flooded Yemalur region Tuesday night but did not check on the situation at Epsilon. “It was only a photo opportunity for the Chief Minister to show that he is doing his job. It was not intended to solve issues,” said a member of the owner’s association at Epsilon.