3,821 trees to be cut for elevated corridor project

A total of 3,281 trees will have to be felled and 2,084 trees pruned to build a network of elevated corridors that will span the length and breadth of the city.

The Karnataka Road Development Corporation Ltd. (KRDCL), which is implementing the project, has submitted its application for Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Study to the State-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Karnataka. However, it makes no mention of translocating the trees, which KRDCL officials had claimed would be carried out.

In its application, the road development corporation argues that the elevated corridor project may possibly be considered as a construction project equal to more than 20,000 sq. m and qualify for an environment clearance.

At the same time, it also makes note of the fact that elevated corridors are not mentioned in the list of projects qualifying for environmental clearance as per the EIA notification.

It puts forth the same argument the State government had unsuccessfully made in an attempt to exclude the now-scrapped steel flyover project on Ballari Road from getting an environment clearance in 2016: parts of the proposed elevated corridor are national and State highways and hence the project can be classified as a highway. However, the National Green Tribunal had struck down the argument made for the steel flyover case in 2017.

Project cost pegged at ₹19,265 crore

The State Budget pegged the cost of the network of elevated corridors at ₹15,285 crore and set aside ₹1,000 crore for this fiscal. However, the detailed feasibility report (DFR) — now in public domain — pegs the cost of the project at ₹19,265 crore. This excludes the cost of acquisition of nearly 140.57 acres of prime real estate and 1,130 buildings, a majority of them commercial structures.

Acquiring the land will be a hurdle: the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), for instance, has not been able to widen a single road in over a decade as no landowner has accepted Transferable Development Rights (TDR) for compensation. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) pays cash compensation for the land acquired for the Namma Metro project.

The feasibility report suggests the hybrid annuity model, where the government will make annual payments across the concession period of 15 years and monetise other sources of revenues, including user fees and real estate.

The elevated corridor will be tolled and the toll rates assumed for viability in 2016 were ₹1.62 per km for two-wheelers, ₹4.80 per km for cars and ₹12.97 per km for buses. The cost of land acquisition is out of the hybrid annuity model and the DFR is silent on this cost, not even accounting for it in an economic viability study.

An exit/entry ramp every 1.5 km

The 89.66-km-long network of elevated corridors will have an entry/exit ramp every 1.5 km. A total of 58 ramps are proposed. These entry/exit ramps will effectively take away a lane for through traffic at every kilometre and also ruin the space below at grade, making the roads a large maze, said V. Ravichandar, former member of the BBMP Restructuring Committee.

‘Government should try public mass transport’

The Karnataka Road Development Corporation’s step to get environmental clearance for the elevated corridor project has caught those opposing the project unawares as they were promised wide-ranging public consultations by the government.

“We met the Deputy Chief Minister and Bengaluru Development Minister G. Parameshwara recently, and he had assured us that the project would be taken up only after public consultations,” said Srinivas Alavilli of Citizens for Bengaluru that emerged out of the Steel Flyover Beda campaign. He said even if public consultations were held as part of the process of getting environmental clearance, its scope will be limited to the environment impact of the project. “We appeal to the government to try public mass transport. Concrete beda , public transport beku ,” he said.

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Printable version | May 28, 2022 12:41:25 am |