For the last couple of days, the Karnataka cabinet has been working overtime to give its assent to projects and schemes before the model code of conduct kicks in for the Lok Sabha polls. But the controversial elevated corridor project for Bengaluru re-introduced by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in the 2018 state budget seems to have got the miss during the recent cabinet meetings.
While this year’s budgetary allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for the project has not got the cabinet’s assent, the BMTC’s proposal for 80 electric buses and the revised conditions of the suburban rail project have got ratified. The PWD (Public Works Department) ministry could not be reached for comment.
A staff at the CM’s office, however, claimed the project is not shelved.
“The cabinet decision is that the CM, since he is the Finance Minister, will have to take a call on the issue. As it stands, once the elevated corridor project starts, the CM will allocate the money to the agency concerned after it is identified,” he said.
The project costing Rs 26,000 crore has faced stiff opposition from citizen activists on various grounds, especially with the slow progress in setting up a full-fledged suburban rail system and metro rail network.
The development comes after the government including Bengaluru Development Minister G Parameshwara seemed bullish about the project while maintaining that the government was ready to address concerns of the opposing public.
The Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) which was thought to be the government agency responsible for carrying out the project had also sent a proposal to chop down 3,700 trees along the proposed corridor. However, a legal tangle involving Assistant Conservator of Forests, Prakash AD of BBMP limits, may also be the reason for the project to be left out.
Since the project involves felling of more than 50 trees, a public consultation meeting has to be held according to Section (8) of the Tree Preservation Act (TPA), 1976. Activists had also earlier petitioned the State Environment Impact Assessment Agency (SEIAA) not to approve the project without the mandatory public consultation, pointing that it would amount to contempt of court citing previous Karnataka High Court orders.