Trees have been felled and shops demolished, but where are the workers?

Every long-suffering Bangalorean knows what it's like to be caught in peak hour traffic. As a solution to the city's notorious traffic jams, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had proposed the widening of major roads, that is, to add one or more lanes on either side of the carriageway.

However, out of around 20 major road-widening projects undertaken in the city, slated to cost Rs. 35 crore, most haven't progressed beyond the initial round of tree felling and demolition of small shops. And, the debris, haphazard demolition and construction works associated with these stalled projects have further compounded commuters' problems.

No progress

Take Jayamahal Road for example. While the widening of the road from Mekhri circle to the TV tower is complete — leaving behind the bizarre sight of trees bang in the middle of the road — the widening of the road on the other side, that is, from Nandidurg Road junction to Mekhri Circle, hasn't seen progress since early last year. “Because of the initial construction, the road now has potholes, blocks and stones thrown on the side of the road, and even piles of sand that make the road even narrower,” said Naveen Prakash, who travels almost daily on the road on his motorcycle.

Key link

Similarly, on the nearby Ramana Maharishi Road, no workers can be seen on the stretch between Mekhri Circle and Cauvery Junction, which is a key link between the International Airport and the city. This road routinely sees traffic snarls as the wide three-lane Bellary Road narrows down to barely two lanes.

Similar is the story of the works on Suranjan Das Road, Sankey Road, Mysore Road, Hosur Road, Kasturba Road, Halagevaderahalli Road among others in the city.

The BBMP offers myriad reasons for stalled projects — from land acquisition problems to shifting of utilities and inefficiency of contractors. It also says they “will be completed soon”.

Under litigation

“In Jayamahal and Ramana Maharishi Roads, the Palace Ground land needed to be acquired is currently under litigation in Supreme Court (Wodeyars vs. Government of Karnataka). But as both parties have agreed in principle, we expect the order any time,” said S. Somashekar, Chief Engineer, BBMP (Major Roads).

Technical problems

The Sankey Road widening, which was cleared by the court, is caught up in “technical problems” due to the water table and height of the bund, he said. The Mysore Road project is bogged down by “inter-department problems” in shifting of water, sanitary and electricity lines, while the asphalting of the Kasturba Road stretch is delayed because of issues with the contractor.

“We have cancelled the contract and asked KRIDL (Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Limited) to complete it,” he said.

Of these pending projects — including the main roads in Yelahanka, MLA Layout, Mahadevapura, Rajarajeshwari — he said works on around 10 roads would be complete by the year end.

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