Key Metro link opens today, brings east and west closer

Key Metro link opens today, brings east and west closer
The 4.8-km underground stretch of the Namma Metro East-West line was officially green-signalled at the Dr Ambedkar Vidhana Soudha station here on Friday.

Even as this completed the 18.1-km corridor from Baiyappanahalli to Mysuru Road, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah talked the future, envisioning a third phase for the Metro network.

The second phase is now in land acquisition phase. But a Phase III would boost the network to 151 km. Naidu assured all support from the Centre to make this phase a reality once the State was ready with its plan.

“I am delighted to know that the state government has taken up feasibility study for the Phase III of Namma Metro. It is a far sighted and timely step to solve the transport problem of Bengaluru,” said the Minister.

Packed with political bigwigs and celebrities, the launch at the imposing Vidhana Soudha steps was grand. It appeared to be designed to compensate for the delay in completing the 42-km first phase, the deadline for which has been pushed to the year-end.

So far, the state government has spent Rs 5,335 crore on the project. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the first phase would eventually cost Rs 13,845 crore. He acknowledged the financial support of the Centre and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Phase II

On Metro Phase II, the Chief Minister said the state government has released Rs 900 crore this year out of its share of Rs 9,000 crore. The total project cost is Rs 26,405 crore, and the entire construction is expected to be completed by 2020. An estimated 20 lakh people will benefit by the completion of the two phases, he said.

Responding to Naidu’s assurance of support for the third phase, Siddaramaiah expressed the state’s gratitude and hoped for timely co-operation by the union government.

Public transport

Earlier, Naidu vociferously pushed for a shift from personal vehicles to public transport. To facilitate this transition, he said, as many as 316 km of Metro lines have been completed countrywide. Work on another 490 km is in progress. The Centre proposed to build an additional 580 km of Metro tracks in cities across the country.

A mix of public transport options such as Metro, suburban railway, cycling and Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) is essential to break the stranglehold of private vehicles on our cities.
Naidu noted that only 15% of commuters used public transport.

He listed the reasons: “Inadequate road spaces, transport infrastructure, and rising ownership of private vehicles have led to alarming congestion in urban areas. Every second Bengalurean has a vehicle. Public spaces including road spaces have been exploited by the car owning class.”

The minister assured support for the early completion of sub-urban train network for Bengaluru. “We will take personal interest to realise this dream. This will considerably take off the traffic load from the city roads,” he said.

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