Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Thursday scrapped a Rs1,791-crore steel flyover project in Bengaluru, bowing to pressure from citizen groups and environmentalists.
The steel flyover, which was to be built between Basaveshwara Circle and Hebbal, a distance of 6.7km, would have reduced the commute to the airport by 10 minutes, but entailed the felling of 812 adult trees.
The scrapping of the controversial flyover is an embarrassment for Karnataka’s Congress government led by chief minister Siddaramaiah, which had earlier decided to go ahead with the project overriding protests by environmentalists.
“I have told the authorities to take the opinion of the people. It was meant to ease traffic. If people don’t want it, then why should we go ahead with it,” Siddaramaiah told reporters on Thursday.
The steel flyover project recently turned into a bone of contention between the ruling Congress party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
B.S. Yeddyurappa, state president of the BJP, alleged that a total of Rs215 crore had been paid in kickbacks to Congress politicians in return for sanctioning the project.
Citizen groups, environmentalists and urban experts suggested deploying more buses on the route rather than cut green cover for the flyover to be built.
“Their ill-conceived decision brought Bengaluru citizens together on the Citizens for Bengaluru platform. That’s been the best outcome out of this sordid episode. And the group is pushing for commuter rail, more and cheaper buses to help address mobility,” according to V. Ravichandar, urban infrastructure consultant and a member of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF), a partnership between citizens, corporate entities and administrative agencies.
The 24-month project was to be executed by Mumbai-based engineering and construction company Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) in a joint venture with Hyderabad-based Naglarjuna Ltd (formerly Nagarjuna Construction Co. Ltd).
“I commend the government for this decision because I think they’ve actually shown they are very sensitive to citizens’ concerns. And that’s a very good gesture. At the same time I also believe that they still need to look at the infrastructure requirements for this city because we do have a lot of challenges in terms of decongesting the traffic,” said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson of Bengaluru-based Biocon Ltd.