A quick recap of the controversial proposals and issues that saw Bengalureans coming together in 2017.

Bengaluru rising From steel flyover to womens safety how citizens took charge
news Citizen Activism Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - 18:27

Over the year gone by, citizens of Bengaluru have risen to protest against civic proposals, to demand women’s equal rights to be able to step out at night without fearing for their safety.

From the Steel Flyover Beda to I Will Go Out, 2017 has seen several controversial proposals being struck down because Bengaluru residents decided to push back and demand that their opinions be considered while formulating policies.

Here is a look at citizens’ movements which have had a positive outcome for Bengaluru:

Steel Flyover Beda

The movement, which started in 2016, gained momentum in January and February this year. The Rs 1,800-crore flyover, which aimed at improving access to the Kempegowda International Airport, was met with opposition, ever since it was announced in October 2016.

Citizen groups had strongly objected to the chopping of over 2,000 trees. From human chains to signature campaigns, the issue had gathered huge momentum, that it also became a topic for politicking between the ruling Congress and the BJP-led Opposition.

Finally, in March this year, the mounting pressure by citizens’ movements forced the government to scrap the plan. Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George, at the time, had said that the state government was cancelling the Steel Flyover Project as they did not want the government to be branded with a bad name.

Read: Massive win for citizen groups, Karnataka scraps Bengaluru steel flyover project

Chuku Buku Beku

Buoyed by the success of the Steel Flyover Beda campaign, Bengaluru residents began a new movement to encourage public transport. This time, those living in the city’s suburbs, demanded a local train system to be implemented as they were tired of the traffic jams.

Citizen groups demanded that if Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad could have a system of local trains, then so should Bengaluru as the city is reeling from a horrible connectivity system.

Residents held multiple protests and finally, in August this year, the local train from Baiyappanahalli to Whitefield was finally inaugurated and people can now reach Whitefield within 25 minutes.

Read: Chuku Buku Beku Wins: Finally, Baiyappanhalli to Whitefield in flat 25 minutes

The protests to save Bellandur lake

In February and March this year, residents from Koramangala, HSR Layout, Bellandur and surrounding areas launched a protest to ‘save’ the ever-frothing Bellandur Lake, which also catches fire once in a while.

The residents demanded that all the illegal constructions in the lake’s buffer zone be demolished and also demanded that the BDA, which is the custodian of the lake, take up the clean-up activity seriously.

Citizen groups and activists, who had also filed a case against the civic agency for the deteriorating condition of the Bellandur lake, enjoyed a massive victory after the National Green Tribunal in April said that every encroacher would have to pay up Rs 5 lakh as fine.

As the citizens’ movement gained momentum, a sewage treatment plant was set up and work is underway for the setting up of three more STPs for the lake. Besides, the NGT had also ordered the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to shut down all the polluting industries in the area.

The victory for Bellandur lake was also a stepping stone for various citizens group to come together and campaign for the revival of lakes in Bengaluru. From Yele Mallappana Chetty lake to Doddabommasandra, Bengalureans have been holding the authorities accountable and have demanded action.

Read: No more froth from Bellandur? Four new sewage treatment plants commissioned

Translocation of trees on Jayamahal Road

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, had once again decided to chop trees to widen roads. However, this time, the trees in concern were aged trees, which form the beautiful canopy on Jayamahal Road.

One of the most congested stretches in the city, the civic body had planned to widen the road and hence, cut down 112 trees. Bengaluru residents, in February this year, launched the ‘Mara Beku’ (We Want Trees) campaign, where peaceful protests were held on Jayamahal Road.

The BBMP tree committee finally decided to meet the people halfway. Instead of cutting down the 112 trees, the civic body decided to translocate the trees to different areas and also plant more trees along Jayamahal Road, once the widening work is complete.

Read: Mara Beku: Bengaluru citizens form human chain against BBMP’s move to axe 112 trees

I Will Go Out

The reportage surrounding the mass molestation on Bengaluru’s Brigade Road and MG Road on New Year’s Eve, had incited widespread outrage against the existing patriarchal set up.

Bengaluru residents took to the streets after the then Home Minister, G Parameshwara, had initially implied that the blame for the molestations lay with the women victims. However, after much furore, Parameswara retracted his statement.

But after Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi blamed women for the incidents of mass molestation, progressive groups across Bengaluru and several other cities including Mumbai, Kerala and New Delhi, took to the streets demanding safer public places for women. The campaign also hoped to remove the stigma attached to women venturing out of their homes after dark.