Karnataka drops Bengaluru steel flyover project

Protests by Bengaluru citizens, corruption allegations dogged controversial plan.

March 02, 2017 01:01 pm | Updated March 03, 2017 01:16 am IST - Bengaluru

Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town Planning K. J. George announcing that the Steel Flyover project is being dropped on Thursday.

Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town Planning K. J. George announcing that the Steel Flyover project is being dropped on Thursday.

Following allegations of corruption and a sustained campaign by the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and citizen groups, the Karnataka government on Thursday decided to shelve the controversial ₹1,791-crore steel flyover project.

The construction of the 6.7-km-long, six-lane project, from the busy Basaveshwara circle to Hebbal junction in Bengaluru, was cleared by the Cabinet in September 2016.

Announcing the decision, K.J. George, Bengaluru Development Minister, said: “We have cancelled the project as we have been forced to prove our sincerity. There are corruption charges levelled against us when not one rupee has been taken as kickback.”

The decision was announced in the backdrop of a renewed offensive by the BJP, after the contents of a diary, allegedly maintained by Congress MLC K. Govindaraj, were “leaked” to the media. The BJP claimed the entries bolstered its accusation that kickbacks of ₹65 crore were paid to the Congress high command and CM Siddaramaiah’s family.

The decision to scrap the project was taken after consultations with the Congress high command, party leaders said.

On Thursday morning, hours before the announcement, more than half a dozen Congress MLAs and Ministers from Bengaluru city, including KPCC working president Dinesh Gundu Rao, opposed the project, saying it was tarnishing the image of the government. Congress Ministers also hit out at Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha member, who played a lead role in opposing the project. “The BJP and Rajeev Chandrasekhar hatched a conspiracy to stall development works in Bengaluru,” Mr. George said.

Meanwhile, BJP State president B.S.Yeddyurappa said: “The government dropped the project fearing a probe by the CBI. But we will insist on such a probe.”

Citizens for Bengaluru, an alliance of citizen activists formed to oppose the project, issued a statement thanking the government for “listening to the people’s voice and and dropping the people- and environment-unfriendly steel flyover project.” Following a petition by citizen groups, the National Green Tribunal had stayed the project, which would have led to the felling of 812 trees.

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