Nine months and multiple deaths later, the proposed skywalk on a busy section along Bengaluru’s Outer Ring Road is still in the making. The skywalk, which connects Akme Harmony to Cloudnine Hospital, is being built on the Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis as the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike said that it does not have the money for this necessary project.
This meant that the private body building it will fund the entire skywalk and generate profits out of advertising for a certain period of time. Although no government funds were involved in the project, it has been facing delays thanks to immense red tape, at the cost of the inconvenience, and in some cases, limbs, of pedestrians.
First, the BBMP council gave its nod to the project only in March, but the Election Commission stayed the project citing the Model Code of Conduct was in place.
While traffic police officials TNM spoke to claimed that they do not have data related to deaths specific to that pedestrian zone, they accepted that accidents are a regular occurrence along this stretch.
“This year, according to my count, there have been at least four major accidents and even one more death in this spot. Small accidents keep happening every other day. Recently, one of our neighbours got hurt after she slipped while getting down the high median,” said Sapna, a resident of Akme Harmony.
She added, “It is not that always we can always blame motorists for the accidents here. In signal-free corridors, a skywalk is a basic demand. While the construction has started, it is at snails pace. I don't understand why are they dragging their feet over it.”
According to some members of Bellandur Jothege, a civic activist group, the number of pedestrian deaths seen on this stretch just this year is as high as seven.
Speaking to TNM, Vishakanta Murthy, Assistant Executive Engineer overseeing the construction process, said, “The basic structure is ready, installing the lifts is talking time. It will take another two months to be ready for use.”
The nearest skywalk from the spot is in Ecospace, which lies a kilometre away.
In December 2017, Bengaluru Central MP PC Mohan had promised residents of Bellandur that the long-demanded skywalk on ORR near Akme Harmony apartments and Cloudnine Hospitals would be ready by three months. What prompted the announcement was a massive human chain protest by citizens in the wake of the tragic death of 19-year-old Sanjay Giri, who used to work as a security guard at the apartment complex.
Sanjay was run over by a speeding cab and was declared dead when brought to the hospital. While the incident involving Sanjay might have brought the people out to the streets, the demand for a skywalk has been a long-standing one. The ORR was intended to be a signal-free corridor, connecting opposite ends of the city. However, concepted in 1996, the ORR stretch was hardly inhabited then, but now it is home to multiple tech parks and large apartment complexes.
Approaching the local MLA and corporator did not help the cause of residents, while minor accidents kept recurring at the spot with pedestrians left at the mercy of motorists.
The BBMP kept saying they did not have funds and cited the ongoing metro project as a hindrance. That issue was resolved at the behest of the MP who coordinated a meeting with metro officials and the BBMP.