Elevated corridors: Citizens’ groups demand public consultation

‘Call Your MLA’ campaign launched to register opposition to the proposed project

Published - July 07, 2018 01:33 am IST - Bengaluru

Budget announcement:  The elevated corridor project has been proposed to improve the transportation system in Bengaluru.

Budget announcement: The elevated corridor project has been proposed to improve the transportation system in Bengaluru.

Citizens’ groups and activists at the forefront of the #SteelFlyoverBeda protests in 2016–17 have regrouped to launch the #ElevatedCorridorBeda campaign against the Chief Minister’s ambitious ₹15,825-crore proposal to build six elevated corridors across the city.

“We want the detailed feasibility report (DFR) for the project to be made public and the Chief Minister to initiate an informed debate on it,” said Srinivas Alavilli of Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB).

It was only after a public outcry that the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) published the detailed project report of the steel flyover project on its website in October 2016. The project was later scrapped in the wake of protests and an order from the National Green Tribunal. Activists have now demanded that the government be transparent with the new project, share the DFR and encourage citizen participation.

“We will hold public consultations on the elevated corridor in the near future,” said M. Ganesh, managing director of the Karnataka Road Development Corporation Ltd. (KRDCL). The corporation, which is part of the Public Works Department, now led by the Chief Minister’s brother H.D. Revanna — had been identified as the implementing agency for the mega project. In 2016, it had roped in a consultant who prepared a DFR which includes an environment impact assessment study, sources in the KRDCL said.

Feasibility report

Ashish Verma, chairman, Transport Engineering Lab, IISc., said the DFR is the key to understand whether the project is justified and if similar investments on mass rapid transport modes such as the metro were taken into account. “The document will reveal whether the said project was the inference of a larger mobility study or a rationale was reverse engineered to justify the project,” he said.

N.S. Mukunda of the Citizen Action Forum), said the forum was planning to legally challenge the project as it was introduced without being part of the Draft RMP–2031 document or being discussed at the Bengaluru Metropolitan Planning Committee (BMPC). “How can such a mega project that will change the mobility patterns in the city be implemented when after two years of work on the Draft RMP–2031 urban planners at the BDA did not even mention it?” he said. The CAF has already questioned the Draft RMP–2031 in the High Court on its legality vis-a-vis the BMPC and shoddy public consultation over the plan. He said they would raise this issue as part of the case.

Protests finds little political support

The opposition from citizens to the mega elevated corridor project seems to have found little resonance among political leaders even in the Opposition BJP.

The #ElevatedCorridorBeda brigade launched a “Call Your MLA” campaign on Thursday night, hours after Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy announced the project in his budget. “Till now, our volunteers have been successful in reaching out to 15 of the 28 city MLAs. Though many are in favour of a debate and are open to it, most of them think its a good project,” said Srinivas Alavilli of the Citizens for Bengaluru. He said a few MLAs had asked them to provide the rationale and data to convince them why flyovers were bad for the city and that they were open to change their mind.

R. Ashok, the points-person for the BJP in Bengaluru who said he would raise the concerns of activists in the Vidhana Soudha during the debate on the budget, told The Hindu that the party would support the project unless they were convinced that it was detrimental to the city. “I agree that expanding public transport is the best answer to decongest the city. But many argue that flyovers are also necessary to make way for through traffic. I had proposed a similar network of flyovers a decade ago at an estimated cost of ₹6,000 crore,” he said.

During a discussion on the proposals for the city in the State Budget at the monthly BBMP council meeting on Friday, the Opposition BJP left the plan for elevated corridors unopposed, as the Mayor praised the project claiming that it would fix the traffic mess.

Meeting today

Citizens for Bengaluru that has taken up the campaign #ElevatedCorridorBeda has organised its first public meeting to chart out strategies to oppose the project, on Saturday evening. The meeting “Elevated Corridor + Pod Taxis = Nex Gen or Nightmare?” will be addressed by Ashish Verma of the IISc., and citizens’ activists V. Ravichandar, Prakash Belawadi, and Sonal Kulkarni. The meeting is scheduled at 4 p.m., at St. Joseph’s College of Commerce, Brigade Road.

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