Scrap elevated corridor project

The Karnataka High Court’s order that stayed till June 3 the finalisation of tenders for the proposed elevated corridor for Bengaluru city and restrained the government from going ahead with the project is welcome, but it provides only a temporary relief. The stay has been given on the technical ground that the project had not been approved by the Bengaluru Metropolitan Planning Committee (BMPC), but the entire elevated corridor plan is flawed on substantial grounds and should be scrapped altogether. The government had gone ahead with the project even when the issue of the BMPC approval was before the court. It has always been keen on implementing the project, which connects different and distant parts of the city with elevated highways, despite strong opposition from urban planning and traffic experts, residents’ associations and the general public. The arguments in support of the project are that it will reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in the city which is seeing an exponential growth of people and vehicles. 

Both the stated aims will not be met, and the corridor will only worsen the problems. Studies have shown that within a few years the corridor will turn out to be inadequate as the combined capacity of the corridor and the existing roads will not be able to handle the growth in traffic. The corridor is an elitist idea as it encourages the use of cars and private transport. The world over, cities are moving to public transport as the best way to reduce congestion on the roads, use of petrol and diesel, pollution and the time and cost of commuting. The proposed corridor will also lead to destruction of a large number of trees in the city. The ideal and the most economic and practical solution to the problems of the city is to expand and develop the metro rail and suburban rail systems and make all forms of public transport more efficient and convenient for the people. There are also many ways to discourage the use of private vehicles and encourage cycling and walking. 

The government has sought to go ahead with the project without proper consultation with the people. That makes it a very undemocratic idea. Lakhs of people have protested against it and conveyed their opposition to it directly or through online campaigns and petitions. The government has misrepresented the project and is trying to impose it on the people of the city. It is a big project, estimated to cost anywhere between Rs 16,000 crore to Rs 25,000 crore. All governments love big projects because they bring big gains to some people who plan and execute them. But the public interest is defeated, and the people and the city lose. For all these reasons, the elevated corridor project must be scrapped altogether.  

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