Legal hurdles likely to delay Bangalore’s Metro project

Legal hurdles likely to delay Bangalore’s Metro project

Bangalore: The city’s residents may have to wait longer than expected for ‘Namma Metro’ (or ‘Our Metro’, as the city’s local train service is branding itself) because of legal hurdles the Bangalore Metro Rail Corp. Ltd faces.

Executives at the corporation say that while they think they can complete the project by 31 December 2011, lawsuits could make them miss the deadline. There are eight writ petitions against the Rs6,395 crore project in the courts currently, BMRCL executives say. Some petitions have been filed by those whose land has been acquired for the project, while some demand a complete change of the planned route.

“Legal petitions take a toll on our energy and time. We expect more such hurdles in (the) near future, particularly when we start demolition (work) in residential areas," said V. Madhu, managing director, BMRCL.

Around 621 private properties have been earmarked for acquisition by BMRCL. The Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board has been entrusted with the acquisition process. In areas such as Indiranagar, where the Metro will cut through residential and business properties, many people are opposed to the project.

“We have filed two petitions in the Karnataka high court due to which the Metro project cannot begin in the Indiranagar area. One petition challenges the project itself and the other is against (land) acquisition. We are seeking a change in the alignment of Metro...," said Pramila Nesargi, a lawyer who is representing traders and residents in the area.

The BMRCL has also been criticized for ‘lack of foresight’ as only about 20% of the 33km Metro project is underground. Already grid-locked roads such as MG Road see traffic jams almost every day due to the ongoing project.

“We knew the limitations (of an overground track). However, money was an issue. Underground tracks cost 2.5 times more than overground tracks. An overground track costs Rs155 crore per km," said Madhu.

Bangalore is the second city in India after New Delhi to build a modern Metro rail system, aimed at easing bumper-to-bumper traffic on the roads. Almost half of Bangalore’s 6.5 million residents own a two-wheeler or a car (or both); 1,000 vehicles are added every day to the three million already on road.