Bengaluru is protesting against a government plan to build a steel bridge that will make travelling to the airport easier, in a project that will cost the city 1,800 crores and more than 800 trees.
Citizens, some of who have also moved the High Court against the proposed bridge, have protested not only against the exorbitant cost of the project but also against what they call a lack of planning. They say it does not provide a larger mobility plan for an increasingly congested Bengaluru.
Next Sunday, people are expected to come out on the streets of the city to form human chains to show their displeasure against the state cabinet’s okay for the 6.72 km steel structure, to be built between Bengaluru’s Basaveshwara circle and Hebbal.
The state government argues that the bridge will serve multiple needs of the city, easing traffic jams on the route to the international airport and also from a key national highway. KJ George, recently reinstated as minister for Bengaluru Development and State Town Planning, tweeted a detailed project plan yesterday.
Making a case for the bridge, the plan notes that Bengaluru has 60 lakh vehicles, up over 10 per cent in the last 10 years, and now sees “traffic congestion at all major intersections.” It says that with the airport being shifted some years ago to Devanahalli, the city’s “travel pattern” has changed. It also seeks to address concern over cost, saying the Rs. 1,791 crore pays for not just the steel structure but also “the main flyover, up and down ramps, 3 underpasses, surface level road, drainage system, illumination and traffic safety appurtenances.”
The government has given a cost break-up and also promises that none of the “heritage buildings and other important buildings in the area include Carlton House, Balabrooie Guest House, Vidhanasoudha, Rajbhavan etc… will be destroyed.”
For the 812 trees that will need to be cut, Bengaluru’s civic body has promised to plant 60,000 saplings.
Critics of the project, including prominent citizens, architects and NGOs, are not buying any argument offered by the Congress government of Siddaramaiah in the state.
“The issue is lack of transparency, we are not told how this project solves the current problem,” says activist Priya Rajagopal, opposing the project.