Bengaluru had come together in 2016 to stop the construction of the controversial steel flyover project. Now, two years later, the JD(S)-Congress government wants to construct six elevated corridors, spread over 102 kms and crisscrossing Bengaluru. The reason - to reduce traffic congestion.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Thursday gave his assent to construct the elevated corridor project after environmental clearance is obtained. However, a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) says that the construction of elevated corridors would not only increase traffic in the city by 2030, but also increase pollution. The study analyses two scenarios of traffic - one with the elevated corridor and one replacing the six corridors with Metro Rail instead of a flyover. It compares projected traffic conditions in the city for the year 2020. The readings were in comparison to Business As Usual (BAU), a scenario without the elevated corridor in 2020.
According to a sustainable analysis conducted by Dr Ashish Verma, Associate Professor of Transport Systems Engineering at IISc states that elevated corridors would attract more traffic "from all directions reducing the level of congestion on connecting roads and increasing congestion on Elevated Corridor". Meaning, the six flyovers would eventually end up being as congested as the infamous Electronic City Flyover, where the slow-moving traffic takes hours to clear.
"The construction of the elevated corridor will increase Vehicle Kilometres Travelled because of commuters trying to reach the corridor from all directions, thereby increasing the emissions," the study notes.
However, the situation is reversed with Metro Rail and would eventually lead to a shift in increasing use of public transport, the study finds.
"It was found that for the year 2020, emissions of pollutants carbon monoxide, HC, NOx and CO2 increased by 3% for the scenario with the elevated corridor. It reduces by 5% for the second scenario with Metro rail," the study states. When these figures were projected for 2030, the study observed that emissions of all pollutants increase by 4% with the flyovers and decrease by 7% with Metro Rail.
The study also states that the average travel time is reduced by 8% with Metro Rail but increases by 40% with the elevated corridor.
According to the Detailed Feasibility Report submitted by the Karnataka State Road Development Project, the elevated corridors would come at a cost of Rs 25,495 crore. The government has to acquire 92 acres for the corridor of land including 17 acres of private land for the project.
"The corridors would be ready by 2025," said Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Thursday after a meeting with the KSRDP. With the threat of increased vehicular traffic and decrease in the use of public transport, activists say that the project is hairbrained.
The central argument is that the Elevated corridors would crisscross the city, thereby bringing in more traffic into the centre of the city. The most bizarre of the proposed six flyovers is the one which connects Hebbal to Silk Board.
The Silk Board junction is infamous for its heavy bottleneck, which Bengalureans try to avoid as much as possible. With another flyover in addition to the Electronic City flyover in this area, the congestion is bound to increase, Dr Verma says.