BENGALURU: Deputy Chief Minister and Bengaluru Development Minister G Parameshwara on Tuesday announced that the government would again take up the steel flyover project for the stretch from Esteem Mall on Ballari Road to Chalukya Circle. The project had been scrapped in 2017 after strong protests against it.
The proposal for building the 6.72-km steel flyover aimed at easing congestion on the crucial stretch which connects to the airport. The cost of the project was pegged at Rs 1,791 crore, and an estimated 812 trees were needed to be cut for it. As Parameshwara said the project is open to modifications, these could change. The project met with several protests by citizens and activists, who cited the loss of trees and claimed that a flyover will not be a long-term solution.
Addressing the media, Parameshwara said it had been decided to revive the project in public interest. “Some people had opposed the project due to political reasons and some for other reasons too, but we need it. Today it sometimes takes 40-45 minutes to cover the stretch, and sometimes people even miss their flights due to this,” he said. “I have discussed the proposal with the CM and we will take it up with the Cabinet, which will take a decision. I also had discussions with a few people who had protested earlier, and they suggested it be brought into the public domain. I will do that, there is nothing wrong in it, because we have nothing to hide,” he said.
When asked why a project already shelved once had been brought back, he said people are still facing problems on the stretch. Citizens had divided opinions about the proposed project. Srinivas Alavilli, chief convenor of the group Citizens for Bengaluru, which had protested against the project, called for alternative solutions. “We are never blindly opposed to any infrastructure project, but flyovers are not long-term solutions and there is also the issue of environmental cost.”
N S Mukunda, a member of Citizens Action Forum, said the flyover was not required as alternative solutions were available. He said an alternative road to the airport exists from Whitefield side which bypasses the Hebbal flyover, but this road had not been fully developed.
However, not everyone is against the project. Transport expert R K Misra said there needed to be a compromise between the environmental impact of a project and the congestion it would reduce. He said, “It is unfortunate if even a single tree is cut. An estimated 1.27 million people in India died due to pollution in 2018. We have to choose between bad and worse because the status quo is not possible.”
Biocon chairperson and MD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw supported the project and stressed the need for a multi-modal transport system.