Glacial pace of Suranjan Das road-widening

Glacial pace of Suranjan Das road-widening

Linking the hyper busy Old Madras and Old Airport roads, the 3.95-km Suranjan Das Road had caught the “widening” brigade’s attention pretty early. But eight years after a private-public deal to upgrade it to a four-lane, fully concretised thoroughfare, the road remains a chaotic, unfinished mess.

As thousands struggle to negotiate this bizarrely dug up road daily, hope disappears in a mountain of unsettled dust and the debris of a hundred felled trees!
Quizzed on completion of the road work, BBMP officials were quick to fix a new deadline: Six more months. But the glacial pace of work and repeated extensions of deadlines had left motorists frustrated, their daily commute reduced to a grinding ritual of overcoming endless traffic jams.

Long wait

Medical representative, Narasimha Murthy was one such victim enduring long waits at the road’s junction with the Old Madras, Thippasandra, Bimanagar and Old Airport roads. “Since most stretches are also poorly lit, accidents too are frequent,” added Murthy.

Inked in 2006, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) involving BBMP, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bagmane Developers Private Limited had guaranteed gifting the upgraded road to the public within a year. In eight years, not even a kilometer stretch has been widened and concretised. Forty more trees are to be felled, although the project has already axed 104 trees, many of which were decades old.

Poor flow of funds, slow pace of land acquisition, complicated utility shifting works... The project stake-holders had a litany of excuses. But the Palike is now sure that work would pick up pace since HAL agreed last week to part with a small portion of land currently populated with teak plantation. However, BBMP would still be short of funds, since the Bagmane Developers are yet to release Rs. four crore of the promised Rs. 5 crore.

Cost escalation

Thanks to the delay, the initial project cost of Rs. 8 crore had escalated to Rs. 15.75 crore. BBMP and Bagmane were to bear the cost on a 75:25 ratio. HAL’s involvement was limited to the provision of land. But fresh issues had cropped up once the details were worked on widening the 9-12 metre road to a uniform width of 18.5 metres. Besides the trees, the project had to acquire portions of land jutting into the Joggers Park carved out by HAL from an abandoned railway track stretch.

The felling of 104 trees had divested the road of its once cherished greenery. “Why did they have to cut so many?” was an oft-heard question from long-time users of the road. A few had grudgingly accepted the loss for the greater goal of decongestion. But their patience too waned when they found the project implementers idle and passing the buck as peak-hour madness ran riot on the road. “HAL and BBMP should take joint responsibility to speed up the work. Eight years is too long a timeframe for any project,” said Gopinath, a PSU employee.

Triggered by the rush of motorists commuting between Bagmane Tech Park, CV Raman Nagar, Whitefield, HAL, New Thippasandra and surroundings, the road’s vehicular load had tripled in four years. This could only get worse, as there is no letup in vehicle numbers and fears of chaotic gridlocks looms large. 

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