BENGALURU: An MoU to swap lands will be signed shortly between the state government and the Defence Ministry paving the way for the completion of the long-pending Road Over Bridge (ROB) at Baiyappanahalli. The move offers a ray of hope to motorists along this stretch who suffer while waiting at a railway gate in the vicinity. A communication issued this week from Ashwani Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board, to officials of South Western Railways, stresses upon the need to complete the bridge at the earliest to clear traffic congestion particularly in light of the upcoming coaching terminal at Baiyappanahalli.
“The state government has agreed to give 9,991 sq m of land to the Ministry of Defence in exchange for the land that the latter has agreed to hand over to the state,” said a senior railway official. It was the reluctance of Defence authorities to hand over this parcel of land that ensured the bridge remained half-completed for the last three years.
The construction of the bridge was announced in 2011. “Railways was entrusted to carry out the construction on behalf of the state government,” an official said. The bridge was completed and one approach ramp (up ramp) from the Baiyappanahalli-end had been completed by the Railways three years ago. The refusal of Defence authorities to part with their land for the down ramp from Old Madras Road resulted in the project remaining in limbo all along.
Owing to the non-completion of the work, motorists get stuck daily at two railway gates in the vicinity, causing enormous delays and stress to motorists. The major bottleneck is at the gate located along the tracks running in the direction from Bangalore East to Baiyappanahalli. “An average of 120 trains pass through this route daily. So you can just imagine just how many times motorists are stuck here,” says gate operator Siddalingappa.
“People scream at me when I am closing the gate ... but I cannot prolong the process for safety reasons. I feel helpless when even ambulances end up standing here and the gate cannot be opened until the train crosses,” he says. The completion of the bridge will solve the problems of all, he adds. Even if one escapes this gate, many get stranded at the second railway gate which is 100 m away, the gateman says. Trains are taken to Baiyappanahalli yard for maintenance purposes.
Motorist A Manjunath says that the route through the railway crossing is the easiest one for those from Banaswadi, Seva Nagar, Kalyan Nagar, Jai Bharat Nagar, and Ambedkar Nagar to reach HAL, Ulsoor, Domlur, Tin Factory, BEML and so on. “I have often got stuck here on way to my office at Richmond Road. But like others, I also do not want to take the longish route of going till ITC factory and taking a U-turn to reach these areas,” he says. “Even office-goers can get some kind of permission but hundreds of school children get caught every morning and are punished at school for coming late,” he adds.