'You can't keep widening the road'

Questioning the Government’s authority to meddle with the inner-city and a largely residential area, the residents also raise their apprehensions about the Stella Maris school. If the project gets underway, students will have to learn in classrooms hardly two feet away from a busy traffic corridor. Three other schools in the area will also be considerably affected.  

“The width of the road has nothing to do with the traffic. The increase in traffic is due to the number of vehicles plying. Given the current rate, it will double in another 5 years. Do they propose to go on widening,” asks A.P Sirur, president of the Malleshwaram Swabhimana Initiative (MSI).

Widening one road would only mean shifting traffic to another spot, argues another resident. “One look would tell you that whatever you do, the exponential increase in vehicles will completely take the traffic to square one,” he adds.    

 “We strongly suspect that this is in connection with the JNNURM(Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) and just another plan to liquidate funds,” another resident Hemant Kumar alleges. Another allegation is the involvement of a timber mafia and  contractors, who have been pushing officials into implementing developmental plans.

No notice issued

Adding to their exasperation is the fact that no notice or written proposal whatsoever has been issued to the residents. The residents were taken by surprise when the BBMP officials began surveying the land. They say the action is in complete contradiction to the word they had received earlier by the Government. They were told that the government would wait until the completion of the Namma metro, analyse its impact and only then come to a decision on the road-widening project.

The residents are collectively concerned over the major deforestation that will take place, once the road widening gets going. Incidentally, the residents around Stella Maris School have been waking up to find age-old trees around their place surreptitiously chopped down in the night.

Dr. Meenakshi Bharath, member of the MSI, says, “Destroying the integral Bangalore is not the solution. A survey was done in March and the peak traffic density was found to be below the maximal for a road of that width.”

Sampige road widening issues

Not far away from the Sankey road is the Sampige road. Widening of this road has become even more contentious with the BBMP’s recent demolition of the Mantri Mall ramp and the compound of the residential Mantri Greens property. 

Echoing the Mantri Developers view of ‘vested’ interests being the reason behind the ‘unjustified’ demolition, the spokesperson for the Mantri Green residential apartment owner’s association says: “A lot of hue and cry over the widening of the Sampige Road appears to have started after the BBMP elections.”

Prabhakar Rao, the president of the RWA, feels the Palike Commissioner may have been ‘forced’ to give the order. The four metre land acquisition by BBMP will also bring about huge changes, which may include the demolition of the Sri Chamundeshwari Temple located within the premises and reduction in the parking space of school buses ferrying children. The Mantri residents claim this also poses potential danger since the children will have to use the widened Sampige road to board or alight from the bus.

“Our suggestion, as per the views of architects we have consulted, is that a dedicated auto lane on the left side of the trees-with the trees acting as a median will help reduce the traffic congestion on the road,” says Meenakshi Bharat.

Ashwath Narayana, MLA, Malleswaram

"The situation will turn grim in the coming few years with a lot of highrises coming up in Malleswaram. Widening Sankey Road is the only possible solution to ease the congestion of traffic moving from Yeshwanthpur towards the City."

A P Sirur, President, Malleswaram Swabhimana Initiative

"Restricting the traffic and promoting use of public vehicles is the proper solution. In the long run, there will be no space for people to live, if you keep widening the road."

Veena Raman, Resident, Sankey Road

"Road widening is really unnecessary. The trees have been there for years, this shouldn’t be the price we have to pay for development. It is only going to aggravate the current problems.”

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