BENGALURU: The controversial steel flyover project in Bengaluru was called off by the government on Tuesday.
Bengaluru development minister K J George said the reason for the cancellation was that the controversy over the Steel Bridge brought a “bad name” to the state government. "The BJP is accusing us of taking kickbacks to push the project. If they prove that I have taken even a single rupee for the project, I will resign from my post," he said.
During the meeting of Bengaluru MLAs at Vidhana Soudha, several ruling party and opposition lawmakers urged the government to scrap the project.
The cancellation of Steel Flyover project has come as a major victory for Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), a civil society group that spearheaded the #steelflyoverbeda campaign.
However, it did not come easy for the protesting citizens who sustained their protest for two to three months since the approval of the project by the cabinet in September 2016. From protests, representations to government agencies and the governor to a complaint filed with the National Green Tribunal (NGT), this project has seen opposition from all quarters.
The 6.72-km long, six-lane Steel Flyover was aimed at decongesting the roads of North Bengaluru. Environmentalists and local people opposed the project as it required cutting down 800 trees, and was to cost Rs 1, 791 crore.
There was criticism from various experts on the detailed project report (DPR) presented by the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) and also the measures adopted by the government in seeking public feedback. The CfB said a massive project like the Steel Flyover would only push traffic jams from one signal to the another.
The first outpouring of people’s frustration happened on October 16, 2016 when over 2000 people came out to protest by forming a human chain from the Chalukya Circle to the Mekri Circle expressing their opposition to the project.
Further, CfB volunteers visited various localities and collected votes on the project. On October 23, about 41,848 citizens voted down the steel bridge. In a public consultation held on the same day, noted personalities like Ramachandra Guha trashed the government and questioned the haste in executing the Steel Flyover. Meanwhile, the NGT stayed the project. While there was opposition to the project, there was also a section of people who demanded implementation of the project.