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Protests forgotten? Karnataka govt wants to revive the steel flyover project again

The steel bridge project was shelved by the Siddaramaiah government after sustained protests, including a human chain with 8,000-people.

The Karnataka government is at it again. Despite protests that once forced it to go on the back foot, the government has decided to revive the controversial steel flyover project for Bengaluru again. Speaking on Tuesday, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara who holds the Bengaluru Development portfolio made the government’s stand clear.

Parameshwara said, “We want to relook at it, I’d like to discuss it with CM and the cabinet will take decision, as people are facing traffic issues. We are talking about easing traffic in Bengaluru. I’ll leave it in public domain for suggestions, I’m open for it.”

“It’s not the question of the steel flyover, we need an elevated road from Esteem mall to Chalukya circle. There is a lot of congestion, it was a very good plan, I don’t know why it was stalled.The steel flyover will reduce the travelling time to just 20 minutes and the government is ready to clear any confusions pertaining to the project,” he added.

The steel flyover project was shelved by the Siddaramaiah government after sustained protests, and various cases filed by activists including a 8,000-people human chain along the route of the proposed flyover from Chalukya Circle to Esteem Mall. The primary opposition to the project was based on the premise that increased road space will encourage further growth of private vehicles which in turn will cause more congestion. On top of that, the huge financial cost and environmental cost triggered stiff opposition to the project.

Hitting out at the government, urban ecologist VIjay Nishanth said, “This is against democracy. The previous CM had conceded to drop the project saying ‘if people don’t want it then we don’t want it’. There were 8,000 people who protested on the streets and 50,000 people signed petitions against the project. What public consultation do you want?”

“This is nothing but a money making machine ahead of the elections. How is this development? Rs 2,000 crore project for an elevated project which is completely unnecessary? Why not spend this money elsewhere where it is needed when there is acute water scarcity and other pressing needs. We had stopped the project inch by inch last time, the same will be done this time,” he added.

Srinivas Alavalli, co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), which was pivotal against the steel flyover project, said, “It is the kind of irresponsible statement that sets things back. We need to increase share of public transport not increase share of private vehicles which is what flyovers are proven to do. Besides pollution is a silent killer that is staring at us and any projects that increase pollution must be shunned keeping public interest in mind. After all the children of politicians breathe the same air we all do.”

He added, “We request the DCM to first prioritise public transport – expedite Metro, start suburban immediately for high traffic areas like ORR, buy more buses, experiments with bus lanes on ORR and build walkable footpaths. The Bangalore Environment Trust warned that heat islands will be created with more concrete structures and I hope their word is taken seriously.”

Opposition BJP also had reacted to the announcement negatively with former CM BS Yeddyurappa saying that the government should not act in haste on the matter.

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