Stop work


T

he spontaneous public outcry against the planned underpass at Rabindranath Tagore circle in Bangalore south is symptomatic of the frustration the citizens feel at the callous and cavalier manner in which the civic authorities function. The unprecedented growth and burgeoning traffic have been posing innumerable challenges to urban planners and civic bodies in Bangalore. The problem has to be tackled with a holistic approach with the help of experts in various fields and after taking the local residents into confidence. But as the controversy surrounding the Tagore circle underpass shows, the hide-bound officials of BBMP have -- not for the first time -- taken an arbitrary decision with scant regard either for experts’ views or public opinion.

From all the reactions over the last few days, it has emerged that the BBMP, almost secretly, prepared the ground for spending around Rs 20 crore on an underpass which serves no purpose other than enriching some contractors and, perhaps, lining the pockets of unscrupulous officials. The project, shelved three years ago following public protests, has been revived suddenly, even without consulting other agencies like the BWSSB and the telephones department, whose infrastructure lies underneath the road and who have to make alternative arrangements. The work taken up in the last few days and now temporarily halted have already thrown the lives of thousands of people and commuters out of gear, and the fear is that this unwanted monster will end up being one among many wasteful projects in the City. The  silence of the BBMP commissioner and Bangalore in-charge minister over the irrationality of taking up the project is baffling and they need to not only immediately intervene and halt its execution but punish those responsible for clandestinely clearing it.

If the underpass at Tagore circle or the one completed at Malleshwaram or the flyover at National College junction are some of the instances of wasteful and mindless expenditure, the BBMP and the government would do well to draw up their priorities right and use the available funds on projects which will ease Bangalore’s congestion. The traffic bottlenecks at Wilson Garden or Minerva Circle, for instance, are crying for solution and that’s where the money needs to be spent. Let the government constitute an experts committee to study the infrastructure requirements of the City and execute the plans according to its recommendations.

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