City and Elections: Bengaluru’s metro woes amid Lok Sabha elections: Political parties spar over future course of metro; commuters angry at delay

April 14, 2024 08:58 pm | Updated April 19, 2024 04:59 pm IST - Bengaluru

The Namma Metro currently ranks as India’s second-longest operational metro network, spanning 73.81 kilometres.

The Namma Metro currently ranks as India’s second-longest operational metro network, spanning 73.81 kilometres. | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

 Citizens of Bengaluru are unhappy this election season owing to the delays in metro construction and in the opening of the new Yellow Line stretch, and the traffic chaos caused by ongoing construction works.

The Namma Metro currently ranks as India’s second-longest operational metro network, spanning 73.81 kilometres. However, commuters have been complaining about the slow pace of construction work on the other phases.

As the Lok Sabha elections approach, commuters are questioning the Central government about the slow pace of metro work. Crucial tech corridors in the city, such as the Outer Ring Road, Sarjapur Road, Domlur, Koramangala, Bommanahalli, and Electronics City, are yet to be connected by metro.

The Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) prepared by the Karnataka government aims to establish a 317 km metro rail network in Bengaluru by 2031. However, given the current pace of work, it seems unlikely to meet this target. 

Metro to connect towns around the city?

Both the Congress and the BJP have been claiming success for the Bengaluru Metro project since the launch of the Whitefield-Challaghatta metro corridor (Purple Line) last year.

Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya and Deputy Chief Minister and Bengaluru Development Minister D.K. Shivakumar have been sparring over the future course of Namma Metro as well.

Mr. Shivakumar announced plans to expand the metro network to connect towns around the city. Following this, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) issued bids in February this year for consultancy services to prepare a feasibility study report for the expansion of metro rail corridors into the outskirts of the city.

The expansion is divided into two packages. The first package spans 50 km and includes three corridors: Challaghatta to Bidadi, Silk Institute to Harohalli, and Bommasandra to Attibele. The second package covers a 60 km corridor, encompassing Kalena Agrahara (Gottigere), Jigani, Anekal, Attibele, Sarjapur, Varthur, and Kadugodi Tree Park.

However, Mr. Surya has argued that the metro was costly and was meant only for city limits and the suburban train was better suited to connect these towns on the city’s outskirts.

The Congress sources said that the promise to take metro to towns around the city had created considerable buzz around the city and will help them in the Lok Sabha polls. It is to be noted that Mr. Shivakumar’s brother D.K. Suresh is contesting from Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency, where many of these towns are located.

Commuters angry at delay

Meanwhile, city residents are frustrated with the delay caused by metro construction, as the slow pace of the project leads to traffic congestion. They are demanding that the existing metro project in the city be completed before considering any expansion to the outskirts or nearby towns.

Ajith Sagar, a techie from Sarjapur, said: “The metro projects in Bengaluru are among the slowest in the country, in my opinion. There seems to be a lack of coordination between the Central and the State governments in implementing the project. The candidates standing for the Lok Sabha elections should prioritise the metro as a key focus area,” he added. 

Despite the July 2024 deadline set in the State Budget presented in February for the launch of the Yellow Line in Bengaluru, BMRCL officials now suggest that the line might not be operational until the end of this year, much to the commuters’ dissatisfaction. 

Venugopal V.K., a resident of BTM Layout, said: “BMRCL’s announcement of extending the deadline to the end of 2024 reflects poor planning and execution. Thousands of commuters are eagerly awaiting the opening of the line. No political leaders are not questioning the BMRCL about this delay.”

However, will these dissatisfactions be one of the factors while citizens vote in the city and if so who will it benefit, is the moot question.

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