‘New KIA metro line defeats purpose of public consultation’

The route to the airport will start at Nagawara and head via Thanisandra Road towards Hegde Nagar before taking a turn at Jakkur towards Yelahanka.   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

As the Metro line towards the airport gets finalised, questions persist on whether the public’s opinion was really given its due.

Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George recently confirmed that the line to Kempegowda International Airport will start at Nagawara, which is one of the terminal points in Phase II, and head via Thanisandra Road towards Hegde Nagar before taking a turn at Jakkur towards Yelahanka. From Yelahanka, the line will go along the existing airport road. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) hopes to use the land abutting the service lanes to reduce land acquisition cost and demolition of existing structures. The line will extend Phase II of Metro by nearly 28km.

However, this alignment was not among the nine routes that BMRCL had put forth before the public in September 2016 for suggestions and feedback. Over 1,000 responses had been received.

The alignment is a mixture of two options: Nagawara-Kogilu Cross-Yelahanka-airport and Nagawara-Bellahalli-Yelahanka.

“This option was not mentioned during the consultations. The purpose of public consultation has been defeated,” said Sanjeev V. Dyamannavar, a member of Praja RAAG, a collective that has been advocating public transportation for decongesting Bengaluru.

He believes that the alignment will lead to a host of challenges, including traversing Jakkur aerodrome and Yelahanka air base. “The elevated sections will run into problems in front of these airports. It will effectively kill Jakkur training school while the air force will not accept an elevated section right besides its runway. Moreover, the sharp turns at Hegde Nagar and Yelahanka will curtail the speed of the train,” he said.

Pradeep Singh Kharola, Managing Director of BMRCL, said this route was chosen to cater to the high density residential neighbourhoods of Hegde Nagar and Yelahanka. “The inputs given by the public did play a role in the decision-making. A huge amount of analysis that has gone into the decision,” he said.

With work on the Detailed Project Report starting right away, he said the ‘challenges’, including approvals from the air base and the aerodrome, will be discussed over the course of planning and execution.

Is there too much on BMRCL’s plate?

Phase II and its addendum, including lines to the airport and the Outer Ring Road line from K.R. Puram to Silk Board junction, now span 119 km, which is nearly 2.5 times that of Phase I.

Currently, BMRCL is juggling nine reaches of Phase II; work orders have already been given in seven lines. Bids have been invited or tenders are yet to be finalised in two lines. This does not include the massive 13.7-km underground section from Dairy Circle to Nagawara, which officials said will be done through numerous tenders while the financial planning of the ORR and airport lines are yet to gather perceptible steam.

“They have their hands in too many places now without the capacity or funds in hand,” said Sanjeev V. Dyamannavar, a member of the non-government organisation Praja RAAG. He believed BMRCL is tackling the ‘easy reaches’ on Mysuru, Kanakapura and Tumakuru roads but is bogged down on ‘crucial lines’. “Ground work has not been carried out on key lines. Work on the Gottigere to Nagawara underground line and the crucial Baiyappanhalli to Whitefield lines are yet to start. Even the design of the interchange station on the line to Electronic City has not been fixed. These will lead to cost escalation.”

He believes the problems of Phase I will persist, particularly manpower required to execute the complicated connectivity. “There are hardly any people with a railways background in BMRCL. Delhi Metro has done well because a lot of people from Indian Railways were deployed there,” he explained.

Ashish Varma from the Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation, and Urban Planning at the Indian Institute of Science hoped that the experience gained during construction of Metro Phase I will lead to faster execution of Phase II.

The popular blog, The Metro Rail Guy, estimates that BMRCL managed to construct and commission 3.03km of metro rail every year.

“This is always going to be a challenge, and they should see if their institutional capability will lead to better execution. The hope is that they will better use GIS (Global Information System) to plan the lines and have better stakeholder discussions,” said Mr. Varma referring to the problems in land acquisition and tree cutting permissions.

Pradeep Singh Kharola, Managing Director of BMRCL, however, is confident. “We have learnt from Phase I and the manpower is there. This is a much bigger project and we are capable of handling it,” he said.

Project status

Phase I

Length: 42.30 km

Underground: 8.82km

Number of lines: Two (Baiyappanahalli to Mysuru Road; Nagasandra to Yelachanahalli)

Start date: April 2007

End date: June 2017

Phase II

Length: 72.05km

Underground: 13.79km

Number of lines: Two (Gottigere to Nagawara; R.V. Road to Electronic City)

Start Date: February 2016

Under construction: Mysuru Road to Challeghatta; Yelachenahalli to Anjanapura

Tender awarded: Nagasandra to Bangalore International Exhibition Centre; Baiyappanahalli to Whitefield; HSR Layout to Bommasandra

Tenders called: R.V. Road to Bommasandra; Gottigere to Swagath Road Cross

Planning stage: Swagath Road to Nagawara

Phase II A

Length: 17km

New Line: K.R. Puram to Central Silk Board junction

Status: DPR prepared in October 2016; funds yet to be lined up

Phase II B

Length: 28km

Line: Nagawara to Kempegowda International Airport

Status: Route finalised; Detailed Project Report yet to be prepared

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 11:43:20 PM |

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