Citizens of Bengaluru held a protest on Saturday against state government plans to construct a series of elevated roads.
The Karnataka government is planning to start work on a mammoth project to build elevated roads over Bengaluru city to help ease the city's terrible traffic problems. The project will cover almost 90km and is estimated to cost almost Rs 27,000 crore. But a petition against it has gathered more than one lakh signatures - as many citizens say it would not be worth the loss of thousands of trees, the expense and the disruption. They suggest more focus on public transport like buses and the suburban railway.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Twitter requested the protesting citizens to meet him and "raise their concerns" against the project.
One of the biggest hurdles in Bengaluru's progress is traffic congestion.The #elevatedcorridor project is the solution to this.Some citizengroups r protesting agnst the project. My request to all is to come to me&raise their concerns.I will listen with an open mind to ur feedback- H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) March 16, 2019
At the protest in the city, Prakash Belawadi, actor and director said, "For now we are saying Tender Raddu Madi" which means cancel the tender.
"We still don't know how to protest against the project because we have not seen the detailed project report. We don't know the logic for it. We don't know what studies they have done. We are saying we still don't know what the project is. You can't call a tender to build a house when you still don't have a proper plan. We found out that the tender has been ready for two years. What kind of arrogance is that?" he said.
Architect Naresh Narasimhan was unhappy about the lack of transparency. He said, "They (politicians) are all custodians of public money. There is an Act called the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act. Any major project inside the city has to go through four stages of consultation. They have gone in a pole-vault from - somebody gave an idea to a tender. Even the DPR and feasibility report has not been released in public. It has not been approved by the cabinet."
Actor Arundhati Nag was also at the protest and she said, "It is haphazard. We have to think ahead. We have to plan it. We can't just connect one side of the city to the other. Improve public transport - then people will stop using their private vehicles. Tax vehicles more."
The state government has been trying different methods to improve travel through the city - but mega-projects have often become controversial. A plan for a steel flyover on the route to the airport that would have involved cutting many trees was vigorously opposed and later scrapped. It is estimated that the Elevated Corridor project would involve the loss of at least 3000 trees.