Experts and citizen activists in Bengaluru are not too happy with the fact that there was no mention of the suburban rail project in the budget presented on Thursday

Elevated corridor wont solve Bengalurus traffic Experts on budget proposal
news Karnataka Budget Thursday, July 05, 2018 - 19:42

Experts and citizen activists in Bengaluru are not too hopeful about the deteriorating traffic to improve anytime soon, especially after CM Kumaraswamy announced the construction of six elevated corridors less than 100 km across the city.

The corridors were proposed three years ago by the then Siddaramaiah government and the project remained pending after facing flak from activists and environmentalists.

A Rs 2,000-crore steel flyover bridge project (a part of this interconnected elevated corridor) was scrapped by the government after protests and litigation by citizens.

While there are bright spots like the mention of a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) and Rs 100 crore subsidy for the BMTC, the budget mentions that Rs 1,000 crore have been earmarked for the current year for the corridors while no money has been allocated to support the suburban rail project.

Ashish Verma, a  sustainable transport expert at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru,  questioned the feasibility of the project, stating it was not based on any study or plan, including the Revised Master Plan 2031.

“How do they come up with these projects overnight and allocate money for them? This has always been a mystery for me. First of all, they need to understand what they are trying to solve. With the rate of growth of private vehicle ownership, soon these corridors will also be filled up and what happens when you come down from these flyovers?” Ashish questioned.

He continued, “The philosophy of elevated corridors itself to solve the traffic problem is wrong. Why do you want to invest so many crores in something which only encourages more vehicles coming into the road?”

Sustainable alternatives

Ashish is of the opinion that the solution lies in cheaper and sustainable solutions like creating a network of priority lanes for buses.  

“We have been seeking dedicated bus lanes along the Outer Ring Road and even the Urban Land Transport Department had suggested so, but this was never taken up. This would have increased reliability in buses and increased ridership,” he said, adding that people who are currently using public transport are being discouraged, instead.

“They have to primarily see how to discourage the ownership and usage of cars but they are doing exactly the reverse. What are you achieving with this?” he asked.

Increased traffic will increase vehicular emissions and the carbon footprint of the city.

Rather, he opined that money should have been allocated to the suburban rail project, the metro construction should be expedited and last mile connectivity should be improved, which includes comfortable walking/cycling spaces.

Vinay Srinivasa, an activist and lawyer, also slammed the elevated corridor proposal.

“I totally condemn this for its outrageous cost and the fact that it will help more private vehicles and actually cause more congestion. It will also make it more difficult to cross roads, to cycle and cause huge loss of trees. This money if invested in buses, cycling infrastructure and housing for the urban poor will be far better,” Vinay said.

Srinivas Alavalli, co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru, claims that the project has been proposed without any planning.

“On one hand, you are doing a good thing (UMTA) and on the other, you are suggesting a very regressive idea (flyover). The irony of it is that sustainable solutions have been allocated a much lesser amount and this gives in to the suspicion that these projects are taken up because they involve commissions,” he said.

“Not allocating any money for the suburban rail after the centre has given Rs 17,000 crore... the state should have put Rs 4,000 crores in the SPV (special project vehicle) so that it could have started functioning. This does not give us any indication that they are serious about solving the traffic problem. It is unfortunate that the suburban rail is not even mentioned in the budget,” he added.


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