Backdoor entry for elevated corridor?

Backdoor entry for elevated corridor?

Leo Saldanha

Is the controversial elevated corridor project being pushed through the backdoor by the state government? The repeated mention of the project in the 224-page draft Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) has sparked a fresh storm, with multiple citizen groups questioning the motive.

While the legality of the CMP itself has come under fire since the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) is pushing it, the groups have demanded that the elevated corridor be entirely scrapped from the plan.

The CMP has proposed to allocate Rs 5,250 crore for 25 km of the project in the first phase, and another Rs 13,250 crore for 63 km in the second phase. Widespread, city-wide protests had forced the H D Kumaraswamy government to put the project on the backburner.

As the deadline for filing objections to the CMP approached on Monday, Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB) sent its submission signed by nearly 4,000 Bengalureans. A key demand in the objection was that the corridor project be completely removed from the plan.

CfB co-founder Srinivas Alavilli explained: “The project has been cancelled due to massive public opposition last year. Our city needs to stay focused on public transport for the next 15 years since we missed the boat for the past 30 years.” 

Questioning the legality of the CMP, he contended that the plan did not follow the due process as prescribed by the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act. Any such exercise had to go through a metropolitan planning committee and the ward committees.

Metro, he pointed out, “is not the authorised agency to create a city-wide mobility master plan and will not clear legal scrutiny.”

The CMP was first drafted by the Infrastructure Development Corporation (Karnataka) Limited. The reference to the elevated corridor project was reportedly inserted later when BMRCL came into the picture.

But why is the Metro Rail Corporation keen on an elevated project? Sources said its interest was basically in getting through the CMP as its funding depended on whether the city had such a plan in place.

However, it is speculated that the insertion of the project in a master plan has another ‘sinister’ side. Here’s why: In future, the state could always allude to it while countering any citizen-driven contention that the project has no policy backing.

CMP unconstitutional, junk it!

Dubbing the Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) being pushed by the Metro unconstitutional,' Leo Saldanha from the Environmental Support Group (ESG) said filing any objection to the Plan would be legitimising it. The Plan has to be junked, he noted.

Being a transport corporation, the Metro is only an implementing agency and cannot take up the task of planning. Only an autonomous Planning Authority can undertake the CMP exercise. He said the Metro's Plan amounts to a conflict of interest with a vested interest.

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