Hurdles cleared, but KBR flyover project remains a non-starter

Despite nod from green tribunal and PCCF, project lying in cold storage

January 14, 2019 12:02 am | Updated 12:02 am IST - HYDERABAD

The project to build mutli-level grade separators, including flyovers and underpasses at six junctions, around the Kasu Brahmananda Reddy (KBR) Park in Banjara Hills is lying in cold storage for no apparent reason.

The project, part of the prestigious Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP) towards integrated traffic management and signal-free traffic, has failed to take off following protests by environmentalists and walkers’ association of KBR Park. They had filed a case with the National Green Tribunal against the proposed project.

Green nod

The tribunal disposed the case with directions for carrying out the work after demarcation of eco sensitive zone (ESZ).

Subsequently, the Forest department has released a draft notification demarcating the ESZ with an extent varying between three metres and about 30 metres at various locations from the park’s boundary. Environmentalists have been up in arms against the notification recently, questioning the shrinking of the zone.

Contract period

Meanwhile, the contract period as per the tender agreement for the package expired in April last year, forcing GHMC to review it. Once bitten, twice shy, the corporation has exercised caution, and dashed off a letter to the government, seeking permission to cancel the contract. The letter, also written in April last year, has received no response so far.

Officials, on the condition of anonymity, vouch that the project in the first place did not require Central government’s nod as per law. “When we approached the Ministry of Environment and Forests for clearances as per State government’s directives, we were told the restrictions in ESZ pertained to industrial and mining activities, and not to road works,” said a senior official.

The guidelines for ESZs around protected areas prohibit activities including commercial mining, setting up of saw mills and industries, commercial use of firewood and major hydro-power projects, while saying nothing explicit about road works. “Still, the proposal was sent to National Wild Life Board, which redirected it to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests,” the official said.

Accordingly, PCCF’s permission was obtained about a year ago, but the project could not take off for reasons best known to the State government.

Blow in future

Though a remote possibility as of now, GHMC could be forced to pay hefty penalty if the contract agreement is not cancelled immediately forthwith, as the contracting agency could approach court much later in future claiming heavy expenditure incurred on machinery.

Besides, the agency could claim that it was rendered technically ineligible to take up other works, owing to the ₹300 crore contract already awarded to it, officials say.

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