Car-free roads, flyovers can't go together: Citizens

Car-free roads, flyovers can't go together: Citizens

Car-free roads, flyovers can't go together: Citizens

The Revised Master Plan 2031 is now in the public domain. The public consultation process is currently underway, giving citizens, elected representatives and domain experts an opportunity to voice their views. A recurring question to the state government and Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) at all these events has been this: What is the realistic plan to decongest the city and improve its transport mechanism.

Over the last two weeks, BDA conducted five public consultation meetings where people from different sections of the society posed questions galore. They wanted to know the fate of the decade-old plan to build a Peripheral Ring Road, about Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)’s failure to improve the city’s road infrastructure, about lack of development on the city’s outskirts. 

At the first meeting, Bommanahalli MLA, Satish Reddy, sought to know how the BDA was planning to develop the city in the absence of wide roads and parking spaces. According to Reddy, these two inadequacies were the prime cause for traffic jams in the city. People are forced to spend long hours in travelling from Bommanahalli to Ballari Road or even to Kanakapura Road, because the government has been unable to improve the Outer Ring Road.

Sustainable transport options and costly infrastructure projects cannot go hand-in-hand. This came to the fore when BBMP corporator and member of Bengaluru Metropolitian Planning Authority, M Nagaraju, drew attention to the Master Plan’s thrust on elevated corridors. Such projects, he noted, cannot be realised when there are space constraints. The government should emphasise more on Metro rail and commuter rail.

Citizens wondered how the BDA and government are on the one hand talking about car-free roads and on the other, building more flyovers. There is no co-ordination between departments. The need of the hour is a workable mass transport system. The state government and BMTC are planning to introduce more buses by 2031. But they pointed out, there is no space to accommodate the existing buses in the absence of bus bays and parking spaces.

Questions by public
What happened to Peripheral Ring Road project proposal, which has seen five chief ministers in the last 12 years?

How many multi-level car parking areas has the city created? How many more are planned and where?

Why is the government unable to widen major roads under TDR and FAR in so many years?

The critical issue of rising air pollution due to vehicular emissions has also figured in many discussions. According to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), around 42 to 45% of city’s air pollution is contributed by the transport sector. Under Article 21 of the Constitution, the right to clean air and water is under threat. With increasing traffic congestion, it is bound to only worsen. The master plan has no solutions to offer on this front.

Residents of South Bengaluru are particularly agitated with mixed development in most areas such as Jayanagar, Banashankari, Bannerghatta Road and Malleswaram, which has increased the traffic congestion.

This, they attribute to improper planning. “The government officials permitted converting residential to commercial areas, but they did not think of the traffic problems that came with it.

Unless the present problems are sorted out, planning for the future should not be undertaken,” said Nitin Seshadri, former member of Koramanagala 3rd Block Residents Welfare Association. 

Residents of North Bengaluru are also not happy with the snail-paced development. Some of them opined that instead of undertaking big projects such as the controversial steel flyover, the government should stop construction of apartment and commercial complexes because the existing roads cannot take the load.

The city, they were clear, cannot handle any more traffic and growth in population. “The ideal solution is not to expand the city, but create townships and provide good commuter rail systems to the city,” said D S Rajashekhar, member of Citizen Action Forum.

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