Steel Flyover project in Bangalore: Vociferous online campaign highlighting consequences goes viral; what is your take?
Vehicles ply past the new elevated highway under construction in BangaloreReuters

If you live in Bengaluru -- formerly called Bangalore -- and have been following the news over the last few months, especially in the last few weeks, you would have heard about the state government's ambition to construct a steel flyover between Basaveshwara circle and Hebbal to ease traffic flow.

The overall cost of this project is rumoured to be over Rs 1,500 crore and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has taken up the project. Like in any other infrastructure project, lots of trees would be cut down to make way for the steel flyover and this hasn't gone down well with the people in the city. 

An online petition on Change.org by Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF), under the leadership of Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekar, is urging citizens to vote online so that the the steel flyover project is revoked by the government.

The Karnataka High Court has admitted Namma Bengaluru Foundation's PIL challenging the Steel Flyover, and has given the state government 6 weeks of time to respond.

Based on the submissions made on the proposed steel flyover by the Legal Counsel (for Namma Bengaluru Foundation) Mr Raghavan (Senior Advocate), the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka directed the State to file their responses within a period of 6 weeks. Although the Court did not stay the project, it has specifically recorded that the project would be subject to the result of the Writ Petition filed by the Namma Bengaluru Foundation.

It might be recalled that NBF had filed a Writ Petition in the High Court of Karnataka challenging the actions the Respondents in proposing the construction of six lane elevated road from Basaveshwara Circle to Hebbal flyover (to be constructed in Steel) via Le- Meridian and Mekhri Circle, in the city of Bengaluru, by Bangalore Development Authority at an estimated cost of over Rs. 1800 Crores as per infomation available in the public domain.

NBFs writ petition had named the following parties:

State of Karnataka, Represented by the Chief Secretary to Government, The Principal Secretary to Government, GOK, UDD, The Commissioner, BDA, BBMP, Represented by its Commissioner, Engineer-in-Chief, BBMP and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, New Delhi as Respondents.

Lack of information in the public domain

A notable aspect is the fact that hardly anything is known about the steel flyover in the public domain, besides the fact that the bridge would be built between the Basaveshwara circle and Hebbal junctions. This route is often described by motorists as a "Road to Hell" considering the time required to traverse this stretch and the quality of the road as a whole.

Also, it is estimated that more than 800 trees would be cut down for the project. If you have lived in the city for a while, you would know that this junction was not too long ago renowned for its green cover; trees still dot this stretch but not like before. Also, the Hebbal junction already has a flyover to connect people to the airport in a virtually signal-free environment. So, does the nearly 6.5 km stretch between Basaveshwara and Hebbal junctions require a steel flyover? 

After the high court's ruling, the BDA stated that it would plant as many as 60,000 saplings in order to compensate for the 500 trees felled. But where would these saplings be planted? This is something only time will tell. 

"For Bengaluru, which is a city of global attraction and admiration, this steel behemoth will threaten the aesthetics of our garden city," urges the petition posted at Change.org.

Is Bengaluru only an IT-driven elitist city; why not improve roads at other major junctions?

These aspects, though not a part of the above petition, are echoed by an average Bangalorean, not necessarily working in an IT firm. 

For instance, take the road that begins from Corporation circle and connects motorists to the Sirsi Circle flyover. A drive on this road, and an average school-going child can make out the haphazardness with which traffic piles up here due to bad planning and maintenance. Also, traffic signals just before and after the end of Sirsi Circle flyover make commuting here a nightmare during peak hours.

While this stretch, which is used by hundreds of commuters on a daily basis, is yet to garner the administration's attention, a small section of the city is being concentrated on. 

Everybody has a right to voice their opinion

The Change.org petition claims that the government can work on streamlining the commuter rail system and come out with a plan keeping in mind the holistic nature of Bangalore. "It is critical not only to upgrade the road infrastructure within the city, but to create an integrated transport infrastructure in Bangalore Metropolitan Region (BMR) as a whole," sums up the petition, which has received 1,800 supporters until now. 

So what do you think about the steel flyover project? Let us know in the comments section.

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