Elevated? Bengaluru's corridor to doom

The unfavourable response to the steel flyover should have made the government more cautious about defying the people.

The government, with its clandestine revival of the elevated corridor project has pushed Bengalureans too far. The dreaded project, far worse than the now-shelved steel flyover, means cutting 3,800 trees, the death of the garden city. The unfavourable response to the steel flyover should have made the government more cautious about defying the people. Instead, CM H.D. Kumaraswamy has said the project will be taken forward as planned. Citizens are up in arms against the multi-crore controversial elevated corridor project as the government is yet again trying to hoodwink and keep citizens in the dark by floating tenders without public consultation. Aknisree Karthik

First it was the steel flyover proposed from Hebbal to Chalukya Circle, that left Bengalureans fuming, and now the government has come out with another shocker : an elevated corridor running both north –south and east-west for around a 100 kms in the city, mowing down an even larger number of trees in its wake.

This time, even as people protested, the government quietly went ahead and hurriedly invited tenders for the project, without the required public consultation. In the process it has ruffled feathers even more.

Not buying its claim that 3,800 trees will be cut for the project, Mr Srinivas Alavalli, co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru, recalls that when 800 trees were supposed to cut for the steel flyover, the actual number was as much as over 2000 . “When this was the case for a smaller flyover, imagine how many more trees will have to make way for the 100 km corridor. It will forever change the tree cover of our city,” he warns.

Accusing the government of deliberately avoiding holding a public consulation for the project, he says, “It’s clear it doesn’t want to understand public sentiment. They violate the law of the land time and again and haven’t learnt a lesson even after the massive steel flyover ‘beda’ protests.”

In his view, the elevated corridor is at least 15 times more dangerous for the city than the shelved steel flyover , which was only 6.5 kms long. “Building an elevated corridor over 100 kms will lead to lakhs more cars coming out on the streets ,increasing pollution and parking nightmares on all streets of Bengaluru. If the elevated corridor becomes a reality we should consider renaming our city, because it won’t be Bengaluru anymore.

When the less than a kilometer long Shivananda flyover is not even half complete after two years, we can imagine how long it will take to complete this project. If and when it becomes a reality it will forever change the character and ethos of Bengaluru. Brand Bengaluru is not about cars , but about trees. Killing trees is the same killing brand Bengaluru,” he argues passionately, asserting, “We believe in people power, in asserting our right to protest and demand due process , particularly public consultation.

Bengaluru is suffering today because of a lack of a comprehensive and sustainable mobility solution, but governments want to focus only on concrete flyovers, which have proven to be failures. If flyovers are solutions why do we still have traffic jams on ORR, where there are many flyovers and signal- free corridor?”

If the government doesn’t listen to reason, the only option will be to pursue legal action as vigorously as during the “Steel Flyover Beda” movement, he says.

Brand expert, Harish Bijoor , too emphasises that trees are a precious asset to the city. "Only when we don’t have enough of them will we realise their impact. One human needs seven trees for a full year's comfortable oxygenation. The city has an adverse ratio of this already. Must we then go ahead and worsen it further?” he asks.

But ask a Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Ltd ( KRIDL) official and he claims the government hurried to invite tenders for the elevated corridor because the model code of conduct could kick in anytime with the Lok Sabha elections round the corner.

Our solutions are being ignored: Expert
The government does appear to give an ear to experts, but then does exactly what it likes. Mobility expert, Dr Ashish Verma, who had a 40- minute long meeting with Deputy Chief Minister, Dr G Parameshwara on February 20, says he shared with him the sustainability analysis, which was done on the steel flyover and elevated corridor to explain why they were not a solution and also suggested alternatives to ease traffic conditions in the city.

“I expla ined to the Deputy Chief Minister with examples of other cities like Mumbai where flyovers have failed to alleviate traffic conditions. In Mumbai officials are building a Metro Rail along the same line where they had earlier built an elevated corridor as it failed to ease traffic conditions. Projects should aim at making personal vehicles less attractive and promote public transport and walking and cycling,” he stresses.

Warning against going the US way, where the car ratio is 700 cars per 1000 population, he says in India it is still at 150 to 200 per thousand population and we need to keep it this way by curtailing infrastructure projects, which will increase car ownership.

“Now that politicians are asking for solutions, we have offered them, but it's upto them to implement them,” he adds.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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