The Hubballi-Dharwad BRTS Environment Action Committee has alleged that there is no transparency in the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) between Hubli and Dharwad.
Addressing presspersons here on Monday, committee convener and chairperson of the Rashtrotthana Sankalp Trust (RASTR) Santosh Naragund, co-conveners Sham Kamath and Aravind Meti and others said that till date the Hubli-Dharwad BRTS Company Ltd. had not shared with the public information about the project. Mr. Santosh Naragund said that World Bank is providing Rs. 550 crore for the project. Though it is such a big project, no public consultation was held even while preparing the feasibility study and also afterwards. “The authorities, who are not at all transparent in handling the project, are yet to recognise the citizens of the city as the stakeholders of the project and disseminate information on the same among them”, he said.
Mr. Naragund said that although railways was considered the most cost-effective and environment-friendly mass rapid transit system across the world, it was never given a thought while preparing the BRTS plan for Hubli-Dharwad which involved creation of eight lanes of road and other related infrastructure at the cost of thousands of trees. He said that with proper planning, railways could still be a better alternative and would also save hundreds of crores of rupees.
He said that already the committee had launched an online signature campaign on www.change.org raising concern over the environmental damage while implementing BRTS project, and seeking remedial steps like planting more saplings. In all 18,000 people had expressed solidarity with the committee, including 12,000 who had signed online.
Mr. Aravind Meti said that as per the World Bank guidelines, it was mandatory for the implementing agency to ensure that ecological balance was not affected. “However in this case, the authorities are least bothered about the environment and because of the proposed 8-lane road under BRTS project, two water bodies between Hubli and Dharwad are going to be destroyed”, he said.
Mr. Sham Kamat said that the committee had already brought the issue of violation of rules to the notice of the World Bank had invited them for a discussion on the issue on June 15.