H D Kumaraswamy’s elevated corridors run into wall of opposition

BENGALURU: Opposition from the public is mounting against the government's Rs 15,825 crore elevated corridor project in the city, which was proposed in the state budget presented on Thursday. Though the government has claimed that it will save travel time, improve road safety and spur economic growth, the activists and urban experts feel it will be a white elephant and serve little purpose. They argue that it will be a waste of taxpayers' money and lead to large-scale cutting of trees. 

Citizens for Bengaluru member Alavalli Srinivas argued that boosting road infrastructure would only encourage use of private cars. Instead, the government should have invested in suburban and Metro rail networks. Dr Ashish Verma of the IISc said that since the elevated corridor will be a toll road, it will serve limited purpose.     

After their successful campaign against the controversial steel flyover, citizen groups in Bengaluru are gearing up to oppose the Rs 15,825 crore elevated corridors proposed in the state budget. #Steelflyoverbeda team is mustering support to oppose elevated corridors, as they consider it a colossal waste of tax payers’ money. Alavalli Srinivas, a member of Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), said they resort to protest as last resort. The state government in its budget has announced a fancy scheme worth thousands of crores. But the question here is will it benefit at all? We are protesting this failed thinking to solve the problems of congestion. There is no emphasis for suburban trains, enhancement of bus fleet and metro rails way behind the schedule. Which is why Benglauru in such a mess, he said.

Srinivas argued that elevated corridors would encourage road infrastructure, but studies across the world, including India, have revealed that boosting road infrastructure will only attract more vehicles. Instead of solving the crisis, it will only aggravate the problem and increase air pollution. While earlier attempts like building of roads and flyovers have failed, the government still continues to avoid considering alternatives and other out of the box solutions, he said.

There is a clear lack of public consultation. It will only lead to cutting down of more trees, turning Bengaluru into ugly mess and putting citizens to great distress for the next eight to 10 years, Alavalli added. Mobility expert Dr Ashish Verma of IISc felt the elevated corridor was an ill-conceived move. He said the government claims that it will save travel time, improve road safety, carbon emission and spur economic growth. But, it should be justified with the survey. Without evaluating different options how can the government say this?, Verma wondered. Drawing a comparison with metro rail, he pointed out that for elevated corridor the government will be investing Rs 150 crore per kilometre.

If the same amount was spent on metro rail the government would have been able to move 1.4 lakh passengers per hour per direction, whereas in case of elevated road it will only serve about 3,600 passengers. Shouldn’t we oppose such projects? he remarked. Verma  pointed out that elevated corridor will be a toll road and people will have to pay to use it. The amount of emission and fossil fuel consumption would be enormous. It is foolishness to spend such a huge amount for the project, he explained.

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