Steel bridge battle won, war not over

Campaigners want a public consultation before any work begins on the 102- km elevated corridor.
Last Updated 19 June 2019, 18:50 IST

After the recent scrapping of the steel flyover from Hebbal to Chalukya Circle by the High Court, the focus falls back on the elevated corridor, a 102-km project which is on hold.

When ‘#ElevatorCorridorBeda’ was trending online, it created much uproar and the project was put on hold during the Lok Sabha elections.
Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy had assured citizen groups that there would be a public consultation done for the project.

Citizen groups have now moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the cancellation of the environmental clearance given to the project last week, and are pushing hard for a public consultation.

Tara Krishnaswamy, co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru (CFB), says that the collective is waiting for a response from the chief minister before taking any action.

“We have filed a case against the KRDCL; they announced that they will be building the elevated corridor, even while the project was put on hold. In the meantime, we are working on a consolidated report of the Social Impact Assessment that we worked on,” she says.

The worst part is that 90 per cent of citizens who will be affected by Phase 1 of the project were not aware of such a project.

“The project is so well hidden; while many might have heard about the corridor coming up, most do not know that it could be right outside their establishments or homes. While a public consultation gives space to all responses, if all documentation connected to the project is made public, we believe that it will face stiff opposition.”

Ramps on the elevated corridor do not sound clear and many such details of the project need more clarity, she says. “For many places like Adugodi, Double Road, Ulsoor, houses and buildings would have to eliminated. The canopy would be affected deeply too.”

Tara adds, “In Bengaluru, the smallest flyover takes around five years to complete. Imagine dug up roads, rubble and the pollution for more than 10 years with such a project?”

The same principles of the steel flyover -- form, function and legality -- apply to the elevated corridor, points out Leo Saldana, full-time coordinator, Environment Support Group.

“The elevated corridor should also be abandoned for the same reasons that the steel flyover was for. A memorandum has been sent to the Chief Minister to remind him about the public consultation for the project that was assured after the elections were done.”

The public feels the urge to approach the High Court when the State doesn’t listen to their concerns, he says.

“This proves how the State and civic agencies do not include the public in decision-making. Yesterday it was steel project, today its concrete, tomorrow might be of gold and this needs to be monitored. It’s not a few crores which come into account, the future of the city is in jeopardy with this project. Beaurocrats and officials who do not care for public opinion should step away from their positions,” he says.

Leo points out that interactive sessions are happening in the city in connection to the elevated corridor. “What is the whole point of setting up new projects while destroying the city?”

(Published 19 June 2019, 13:19 IST)

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