Aggrieved residents from across the city met here on Sunday to raise their voices against what they said Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike's (BBMP) “irrational road widening plans”. They participated in a convention on road widening and Transfer of Development Rights organised by the Save Bangalore Committee.
The guests, who addressed the gathering, had one common refrain — stand united to oppose the “irrational, unilateral, unscientific and anti-people move to widen 220 roads” in the city.
Writer U.R. Ananthamurthy said that the officials should give up road widening plans until the work on Metro was completed. “After the work is completed, we can see how many people are opting for it and then decide on whether the roads need to be widened. Even then, the citizens must be involved,” he said.
Stressing on the need to make roads accessible for all sections of society, he urged people to “instil fear” in the elected representatives. “If they are ‘scared' of the electorate, they will listen to us. That is the only thing that will push them to drop the ‘unscientific road widening plans',” he said.
M.F. Saldanha, former High Court judge, who was the chief guest, said, “We must make the Yeddyurappa Government and BBMP realise that Bangalore does not belong to them, and they have no right to destroy it. I know from my experience that not a single road in the city needs to be widened.”
He also said that with proper traffic management, the stress on the city roads can be reduced.
He alleged that a contractor-mafia was responsible for the “indiscriminate felling of trees and unscientific road widening”. “Irrespective of the timber yield, each tree is being auctioned for no less than Rs. 2,000. We must fight these corrupt practices and arrive at alternative solutions for road widening,” he added.
L.V. Srirangaraju, retired chief engineer of erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, said that Bangalore is not a planned city, but a conglomerate of villages. “We need scientific solutions, given the nature and culture of the city. Citizens are affected by bad engineering,” he said.
He urged citizens to take a proactive role in the local administration. He said that planning and execution of projects were a failure in the city. “If at all there is an award for bad engineering, the Cauvery underpass will win it hands down. The underpass near Le Meridien Hotel is another example of waste of tax payers' money,” he said.
H.S. Doreswamy, freedom fighter, who presided over the convention, said that the citizens only had to blame themselves for the sorry state of affairs.
“We have become mute spectators. The authorities do not believe in consulting the people or technical experts. We must show them now that our voices will continue to rise if they do not listen to us,” he said. Actor H.G. Somashekhara Rao, environmentalist Yellappa Reddy, urban planner and architect George K. Kuruvilla, general secretary of All India Mahila Samskrutik Sanghatan H.G. Jayalakshmi and convenor of Save Bangalore Committee B.R. Manjunath spoke.