Bengaluru Comprehensive Mobility Plan a 'backdoor’ to elevated corridor?

The plan is available on the BMRCL website, and asks for feedback from citizens regarding the plan.
Bengaluru Comprehensive Mobility Plan a 'backdoor’ to elevated corridor?
Bengaluru Comprehensive Mobility Plan a 'backdoor’ to elevated corridor?

Bengaluru citizens have opposed the Comprehensive Mobility Plan proposed by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) by calling it a backdoor entry to the controversial elevated corridor project.

Citizen activists have raised objections stating that the plan has included the contentious elevated corridor project, which has been widely opposed. The plan is a 224-page document that mentions the elevated corridor in the tables, allocating 18,500 crores to it.

They accuse the BMRCL of not holding a public consultation before making the comprehensive mobility plan, and that the new plan is based on traffic data from 16 years ago: 2004. The BMRCL is still taking feedback regarding this from the public in the form of emails, the deadline for which is January 20.

Activists have primarily questioned the legality of the exercise, saying that the comprehensive mobility plan should have been drafted by the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA), not any other body. The UMTA is an umbrella regulatory body that brings together all the different departments related to transport and mobility under it, including traffic police, road works, and BMTC. The UMTA must make the plan after consulting with the local bodies and citizenry, but the government has not given the body any powers, even though it exists on paper, activists allege.

Ajay Seth, managing director of the BMRCL, told TNM that all cities need a comprehensive mobility plan, which is what BMRCL was doing. “In the absence of the UMTA, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) is an alternate body that has made the plan with us. We have consulted with other transport bodies in the city as well, and have put out the plan on our website for feedback from the public for about 40 days now,” he added.

Sandeep Anirudhan, a civic activist, says that the plan is for the development of the city and should have been made after consultation with the public and other stakeholders.

“The plan was put together within the space of one month by IDECK (Infrastructure Development Corporation (Karnataka) Limited). They sent it to the DULT. BMRCL raised objections to this plan, and insisted on the insertion of the elevated corridor. However, the IDECK did not want this in the plan, and thus backed out. So it has become a plan that has been primarily mooted by BMRCL.”

‘What does Metro have to do with the elevated corridor?’

Srinivas Alavalli of Citizens of Bengaluru, a citizens group that campaigns for better public transportation systems to address the traffic and pollution problems, says that BMRCL taking the lead on formulating the plan constitutes a conflict of interest.

“The plan by one transport body (BMRCL) in a comprehensive mobility transport plan, is a conflict of interest. They have also inserted the elevated corridor project in the plan, which was dropped by the state government after we were opposed to it. What does the metro have to do with the elevated corridor? They have obliquely reintroduced it in the plan, and allocated Rs 18,500 crores for it. Residents of Bengaluru opposed it, tooth and nail, and now we have to fight it again,” he said.

In 2018, the then Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George has announced that the steel flyover construction would be stopped. However, the project was reintroduced in the 2018-19 budget by the Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JD(S) coalition government. The tender for this was scrapped in September last year, but the project was not scrapped.

Another organisation, Citizens’ Agenda for Bengaluru, has put out a series of posts on social media objecting to the plan. Sandeep Anirudhan, a member of Citizens Agenda for Bengaluru, says that the plan is a paper exercise to get funds from the Centre, for urban development.

“The BDA (Bengaluru Development Authority) is interested in decongesting the city centre. However, this plan does the opposite and encourages congestion and more traffic. Flyovers and elevated corridors make it easier for cars and other private transportation instead of prioritising public transportation. A true comprehensive mobility plan would include the ideas of all the stakeholders, the public, and other public transportation bodies. We know what the citizens want: more spaces for walking and cycling, and the revamping of the public bus system (BMTC). Instead, these people along with vested interests are lobbying to put more concrete flyovers in the city.”

You can access non-profit campaigning platform Jhatkaa's petition here.

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