Potholes on the road, traffic congestion and lack of traffic police are just few of the woes that Bengaluru is facing. But the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has decided to move forward with the construction of the 6.7 kilometers long steel flyover over the Hebbal-Chalukya circle stretch. The project that is going to cost over 1,791 crore has received a green signal even though the BDA received only 299 responses to its proposal. The decision, however, has not gone down well with Bengaluru residents, with many citizens and advocacy groups coming together to protest against the project.
Prominent names like MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, actor Prakash Belawadi, architect Naresh Narasimhan, Muralidhar Rao of Praja have associated themselves with the campaign Citizens Against Steel Flyover, along with Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) and Bus Passenger Forum among others. According to a TOI report, NBF has also filed a writ petition in the high court opposing the government and BDA's decision to go forward with the construction.
A Facebook page has also been formed with the intent of using social media to raise awareness about the unfeasible nature of the project, Prakash Belawadi told TOI. "We, the citizens of Bengaluru must join hands to protest against the unplanned & unnecessary steel flyover in Bengaluru. We have several modes of transport including a railway station at Devanahalli. The state government is misusing the tax payer's money and destroying our so called 'Garden City'," reads the Facebook description.
One of the events aimed to protest against the flyover is the formation of a human chain along Ballari Road from Basaveshwara Circle to Hebbal on October 16. The group also plans to send an open letter to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and KJ George.
NBS has also started a petition on change.org, asking for the project to be halted. Titled "Bengaluru's plea: Don't want steel flyover; want better public transport", the petition says that there the flyover project is an example of "adhoc planning" which shows no signs of integrating with the "broader Master Plan". It also accuses the project of not taking into account the environmental implication of cutting down over 500 trees. The petition has over 1500 signatures.
The BDA on its part had told Aparajita Ray of TOI on Wednesday that they are not "hiding anything". While the city is home to over one crore people, BDA commissioner Rajkumar Khatri said that they had decided to go ahead based on the analysis of the 299 responses they received on the proposal.
"Our analysis shows that of the 299 respondents, 73% wanted the flyover as proposed; only 27% have sought a change in the alignment or don't want the project or want it to be made of concrete," he said.
Traffic expert MN Sreehari had told TNM earlier that while making a concrete flyover would have been more cost-effective, the state government has vested financial interests in opting for a steel one. "The more money they (state government) get for these projects, the more kickbacks they can get," he said.
Studies have also shown that the existing flyovers in the city are not only overburdened but have also failed to ease traffic congestion.
The flyover is meant to be "ultimate freeway" to the Kempegowda International Airport, according to Rasheed Kappan and G Manjusainath's report in Deccan Chronicle. However, what seems to have missed the attention of the BDA is that the pillars of the flyover will eat into the existing road space and cause even more congestion. "The effective width of the road below will further reduce, triggering congestion on all approach roads," the report says.
The question of flyovers being geared towards encouraging private transport as opposed to the push needed for public transport to ease traffic congestion, is also an issue. "Triple the bus fleet in the city and roads will automatically clear. But thereâ€™s no money in it, so it doesnâ€™t happen," Ashwin Mahesh, former advisor to the Karnataka government on urban affairs, had told TNM.