Bengaluru activists conducted the second phase of the social impact assessment on the controversial elevated corridor project proposed by the state government in Bengaluru.
It found that shop-owners along the side of BTS Main Road, where a section of the corridor is proposed to be built, were unaware that they might lose their shops.
The social impact assessment is being carried out by a team consisting of members of Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike, Citizens for Bengaluru, The Student Outpost and Bengaluru Suddi.
The controversial elevated corridor project was proposed by the Karnataka government. It plans to build a network of elevated corridors in Bengaluru. The plan has come under criticism from residents and activists who argue that the project will only add to the city's traffic issues and lead to loss of green cover.
The Karnataka High Court has put the project on hold by passing an interim stay order on starting work on the project until the next hearing in the case on June 3.
Activists conducting the social impact assessment say that they have taken up the task of doing it since the state government is yet to conduct its own social impact assessment, as mandated by the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013.
An environmental impact assessment report prepared by Karnataka Road Development Corporation Ltd. (KRDCL) noted that over 1100 properties will be affected by the project. This includes 209 residential. 577 commercial and 32 religious properties which the government must acquire by spending over Rs 11,000 crore
The social impact assessment conducted by activists identified several issues related to the impact the elevated corridor will have on communities, public infrastructure and the environment.
"The detailed feasibility report itself states that in the N-S corridor, more than 250 properties are to be affected. In this stretch covered today, it was seen that many of the houses, shops are likely to be impacted," reads the report.
The maximum impact was observed on BTS Main Road, which is just 12 metres wide. The proposed elevated corridor is 19 metres wide and would need properties to be acquired on both sides of the road.
The assessment also noted that none of the property owners knew that their shops might be acquired for the project. "Many of the properties have been marked with yellow paint, and residents were unaware of why this is so. Similar markings can be seen in the Jayamahal portion of the elevated corridor as well. There are also several street vendors who were there who did not know of the corridor and were apprehensive of the impact of the corridor," adds the report.
The project is also expected to have an adverse impact on the environment at the heart of the story. The social impact assessment also noted that some of the pillars of the elevated corridor will be inside the storm-water drain along BTS Main Road. According to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and orders of the Karnataka High Court, this is illegal. Around 274 Trees along BTS Main Road could be cut down for the project.
Further, a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has also found that the construction of the elevated corridor will lead to more traffic congestion and pollution in the future.
A protest was held on March 16 in Bengaluru in which hundreds of residents and activists came together to demand a public consultation before the project is started by the state government. Following the protest, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy announced that a public consultation meeting will take place.
The next and final phase of the social impact assessment by activists will be completed on May 18.