Bengaluru is an urban conundrum, plagued by an abundance of problems and no clear solutions. If the city’s mess is about uncontrolled development, burgeoning population and flagrant violation of regulations, it is also about bad infrastructure—designed and executed poorly with absolute no foresight. That is exactly why a new mega project—a 102 km elevated corridor network—is making citizens lose sleep. With the government deciding to start work on the project, the citizens have taken to the streets. It was a similar citizen movement that resulted in the scrapping of the plan for a 7 km steel flyover in 2017. CM H D Kumaraswamy has now promised to hold public consultations before going ahead with the project.
The `27,000 crore project is about constructing three main elevated corridors crisscrossing the city and three connecting corridors. It will require the felling of 3,800-odd trees and pruning of at least 2,000 more. Besides, construction activity, given the scale of the project, will add to the existing chaos. People opposing the project believe it is ill-conceived and will have limited use in easing congestion. Their worries are not ill-founded considering what happened with other big-ticket infrastructure projects in the city. The Hebbal flyover and KR Puram suspension bridge are glaring examples. Instead of easing transport, the structures have become colossal physical barriers.
The city surely needs solutions. But what it requires is a proper mass transport network involving metro rail, suburban rail and buses. What it probably doesn’t need are projects that encourage the purchase and use of personal vehicles. There are nearly 80 lakh vehicles on the city’s roads already. So, the government must first expand the metro rail network, speed up ongoing work, make efforts to set up a suburban rail system and strengthen the bus fleet. Flyovers, underpasses and elevated corridors may still be necessary. But they must be carefully planned keeping the environmental impact and future growth in mind.