How can Rs 33,000 crore be spent on an elevated corridor project when, with a fraction of that money, the city’s public transport can be boosted with a few thousand buses? Beyond eco concerns, this question rang through a Thursday meet to announce a weekend protest against the controversial project.
The corridor, by its elevated design, cannot be an option for intra-city BMTC buses that require stops at every kilometre. The project will benefit only private car owners. Instead the thrust, as Ramdas Rao from the Bengaluru Bus Prayaneekara Vedike (BBPV) put it, should be on boosting the BMTC fleet.
Rao called the shift in priority “a violation of the right to the city of its ordinary inhabitants”.
The bus is the only mode of transport that serves the majority of ordinary people, including women workers, street vendors, garment workers and daily wage earners.
For noted actor Prakash Belawadi, the meet was an occasion for a reminder: from former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda to Chief Minister Kumaraswamy to KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao to former chief minister Siddaramaiah, everyone has decried the elevated corridor project in the past.
“They should stay true to their conscience and withdraw this anti-people project,” he said.
Leo Saldanha from the Environment Support Group (ESG) had this poser: “How can an elevated corridor be a legitimate project without consultation with the high-powered committee and the public?”
Giving a new twist to the Beku-Beda divide, Srikanth Narasimhan, general secretary of Bengaluru Apartment Federation (BAF), said that he, representing 400 apartment complexes and 70,000 flats, stood for a the Beku brigade, but asking for trains, buses and the metro.
Public transport infrastructure has been neglected for decades. He explained: “If all this infrastructure is put in place — suburban trains on the wasted railway lines, the metro is fast-tracked and enough buses are run — we are sure that there is absolutely no need for the elevated corridor.”
Urban architect Naresh Narasimhan said there are two ways to destroy a city. “As the Mayor of Bogota famously said — one is using a nuclear bomb and the other is elevated roads. This project will destroy the culture and character of our city,” he said, emphasising the need to decentralise, decongest and demotorise to save Bengaluru.