Airport metro eco-impact: Greens seek ADB intervention

Airport metro eco-impact: Greens seek ADB's intervention to boost transparency

Advocacy group GrowthWatch has urged the Asian Development Bank to plug the lacunae and boost transparency

The BMRCL has proposed to axe 4,538 trees for building the airport metro line. Credit: DH file photo/S K Dinesh

Frustrated that the airport metro line’s Detailed Project Report (DPR) has not been made accessible for informed public consultation, advocacy group GrowthWatch has urged the project’s funding agency — Asian Development Bank (ADB) — to plug the lacunae and boost transparency. 

In a letter addressed to the bank’s managing director-general and other senior officials, Growthwatch members pointed out: “A DPR that forms the basis of understanding of any large infrastructure project is impossible to access! It is neither available on BMRCL’s website nor on the ADB’s. Citizens’ request to BMRCL on this via the Right to Information Act has gone unanswered.”

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has proposed to axe 4,538 trees for the airport line. To study the maze of public notices and addendums on the ecological impact and to provide informed inputs, citizens have sought an extension of time. 

Read | BMRCL to borrow $500 million from ADB for airport metro corridor

Demanding a better system of public consultation to enable meaningful citizen engagement, GrowthWatch observed that the citizens were swamped with reading, tracking and surveying a maze of notices with supporting documents that are issued for different “packages” at various times.

ADB, citing information furnished by BMRCL, responded that public notices for tree cutting were published on April 30, June 23 and 24, seeking public opinion within 10 days from the date of publication. Corrigendums and addendums were issued in the wake of the lockdowns, allowing objections to be filed effectively up to July 18.

Growthwatch contended that despite multiple restrictions due to the lockdowns, the responsibility to gather data, undertake field studies and file meaningful objections was placed on the citizens, all within 10 days of each notice.

The group also saw as ‘worrying’ the pattern of splitting the airport line project and release of its impact on the environment in “packages” and further sub-packages. “Splitting enables BMRCL to put forth the numbers of trees to be felled for its projects in bits and pieces.”

When confronted with portions instead of the whole picture, the Growthwatch members noted, the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), others in the city Bengaluru municipality, environmental and urban experts and common citizens are all pushed into a state of complete confusion. 

This, they felt, “could be the reason we find the DCF BBMP clearing every proposal BMRCL sends in for tree felling to make way for the metro.”

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