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Integrated skywalk violates draft RMP-2031 guidelines

DH News Service, Bengaluru, Jan 7 2018, 1:03 IST

Put on hold by the BBMP after an outcry, the work on the integrated skywalk at the Mahatma Gandhi Circle violates the draft Revised Master Plan (RMP-2031) guidelines on heritage preservation and urban design aesthetics. Although not notified yet, the draft places special emphasis on preservation of heritage zones, one of which is MG Road and its surroundings.

The draft, prepared by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) with inputs from various stakeholders including heritage and urban design experts, was the result of a consultation process.

The Palike's unilateral decision to go ahead with the project went against the spirit of this exercise, say independent policy consultants.

Regulations for the MG Road heritage zone clearly state that the streetscape elements should consider the surrounding character of the area.

The skywalk - planned, designed and imposed on Bengalureans without stakeholder participation - will not pass this test.

But the Palike, despite being forced to halt the project, does not agree that it violated any rule.

"The RMP-2031 is a draft and not in force now. Where is the notification? Whatever the law on skywalks, it is applicable to all locations where there is a demand," BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad told DH.

He contended that no public consultation was required for skywalks. If that were so, even asphalting would mandate such a measure.

All work has been halted at the skywalk site, and the Bengaluru Development Minister K J George is studying the project
details furnished by the civic body.

Since the RMP-2031 is not notified yet, MG Road does not pose an obstacle as a heritage zone, as indicated by the commissioner.

To identify and delineate heritage zones and precincts, the master plan had considered the historicity of the heritage area, urban character and nature of activities, architectural character and style, besides spatial contiguity and congruence. Based on these, MG Road was delineated as a separate heritage zone, along with 11 others.

The implication was clear: A monstrous skywalk would be completely out of sync in the delineated zone. It would also violate another urban design guideline proposed by the RMP-2031: "The streetscape and visual character of any city is not resplendent without designed and well-thought-out interventions in the streetscape."

So, what is the best alternative that is in tune with the RMP-2031? Urban mobility experts have argued that the intersection of MG Circle can be made perfectly safe for pedestrians crossing through smart signalisation and traffic management.

Civic evangelist V Ravichander had a suggestion: "Even if you give a 60-second crossing time for pedestrians, it can be managed. In London, for instance, vehicular traffic is halted from all directions to help pedestrians cross diagonally. This can be replicated at this junction without any skywalks."

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