Will take to the streets if elevated corridor project is taken up: citizens' groups

Citizens protesting against the elevated corridor project in March 2019.

Citizens protesting against the elevated corridor project in March 2019.

The citizens’ groups at the forefront of opposition to the network of elevated corridors are livid that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which once opposed the project, is pushing for it now that it is in power. They have threatened to take to the streets if the government goes ahead with the project.

Bengaluru witnessed large-scale protests against the proposed steel flyover in 2016 and the elevated corridors when the project was mooted in 2019. While the steel flyover proposal was scrapped, the elevated corridor project was shelved.

However, a group of MLAs from the city and ministers are lobbying hard to take up Phase I of the project – East-West corridor between K.R. Puram and Yeshwantpur – which is likely to cost over ₹5,000 crore.

“The BJP stood with citizens and opposed the project less than a year ago. Today, they want to implement it. In fact, the Chief Minister scrapped the tender process that was already under way for the North South corridor,” said Srinivas Alavilli, Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB). “We will be left with no option but to take to the streets if the government goes ahead with the project.”

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who holds charge of Finance and Bengaluru Development, is preparing to present the State’s budget on March 5. Citizens’ groups have decided to meet him to demand that the project not be taken up.

CM in a spot

The project is championed by newly inducted ministers B.A. Basavaraja and S.T. Somashekhar, whose defection from the Congress was instrumental in bringing the BJP to power.

Basavaraja represents K.R. Puram and Somashekhar the Yeshwantpur Assembly constituency.

There seems to be dissatisfaction brewing in the party over the dominance of the newly inducted ministers. “The BJP had taken a stand and opposed the project. The newly inducted leaders had championed the project in the Congress but should be made aware of the party's stand. Mr. Basavaraj recently announced another flyover, also to K.R. Puram, though the Chief Minister holds charge of Bengaluru Development,” said a senior BJP leader.

However, some BJP legislators, including Deputy CM Dr. C.N. Ashwath Narayan, are reportedly positive about the project.

“Mr. Yediyurappa has the onerous task of balancing several leaders in the city amidst an aggressive pitch by the newly inducted ministers, who he cannot antagonise,” said a source in the party.

Push for public transport

Urban mobility experts argue that the government needs to invest in public transport.

Dr. Ashish Verma, associate professor, Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP), IISc., said the elevated corridor will not solve the congestion problem, but only aggravate the situation. “Numerous studies have proven that provision of infrastructure for private vehicles will only increase the congestion over time. We have built over 50 flyovers over the last decade-and-a-half. Yet a recent study said Bengaluru is the most traffic-congested city,” he said.

Others pointed to the failure of the suburban rail network to take off. “These projects need to be given priority,” said urban mobility expert Sanjeev V. Dyamannanavar.

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Printable version | Aug 15, 2022 1:04:28 am |