steel flyover protest
People form a 4.6 km-long human chain to protest against construction of steel flyover in Bengaluru, on Oct 16, 2016.IANS

Bengalureans have come out in thousands to condemn the Karnataka government's decision to construct a steel flyover, which is believed to be harmful to the environment. The residents have called it a "steel dagger in the heart of the city".

Almost 42,000 people have opposed the construction of the steel flyover, which is proposed to cover a distance of 6.7 km from towards the airport. The cost of the project will be Rs 270 crore per km or Rs 2.7 crore per metre. However, a smaller group of people from Hebbal have said that the steel flyover between Raj Bhavan and Hebbal will lessen traffic congestion.

"We are the biggest sufferers as we bear the brunt of heavy airport-bound traffic which slows down at Hebbal intersection. The proposed flyover will remove the congestion at Hebbal and bring relief to residents," Anand Kumar, president of the Hebbal Nagaraikara Hitarakshana Samiti, said in a press statement. 

A much larger group has opposed the government's decision, the contract for which has also been questioned by a traffic engineering consultant and Karnataka government adviser.

The norm for such tenders is to have at least three competitors, but for the Rs 1,800 crore project, only two competitors were present. The flyover will also increase temperature and more than 800 trees will be cut, said MN Sreehari, an adviser to the government. He also suggested alternative routes that could help decongest the area.

In an event organised by the Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), no top level politician from the government or the opposition was present. 

Tanveer Ahmed from the JDS represented former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, while Katte Satyanarayana represented the BJP instead of Jagadish Shettar, and Vinod James from AAP represented Prithvi Reddy.

Noted historian Ramchandra Guha said: "This problem has been around from the time of Jawaharlal Nehru. But he was self-critical and had said such an outlook will not lead India to a good place." Guha added: "At that time, the disease of gigantism could be attributed to folly, but today it must be attributed to fraud. Larger the project, larger the cuts." 

The organisers said that they were considering a legal action against the construction of the flyover.