The threat posed by the controversial elevated corridor to hundreds of fully-grown trees in the city’s green heart has sparked a massive citizens’ outrage. This palpable anger is being channelized both online and offline for a protest this weekend, even as a petition on Change.org garnered one lakh signatures. Mobilizing citizen voices under the hashtag #TenderRadduMaadi (Cancel the Tender), citizen groups were active through the week preparing for the protest on Saturday at Gandhi Statue, Maurya Circle. Articulating the collective angst, a citizen activist, Ritika Sharma, wrote on Facebook: “Other countries are investing their money in green cover and measures to protect it whereas we are adamant to kill it. If we don’t do anything ourselves, we are as good as these manipulators without any regard.”
Over 35 citizen groups, residents’ welfare associations, green and mobility collectives have already signed up for the #TenderRadduMaadi campaign. Besides Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), the list includes Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike, Bangalore Apartments Federation, Citizens for Sustainability, Whitefield Rising, Cubbon Park, I Change Indiranagar, Environment Support Group, Bengaluru Suburban Rail Users and others. The groups maintained that they had united on a common platform to stop the elevated corridor project for a reason: “The tender notification was issued by KRDCL (Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited) without a public consultation despite repeated assurances by the chief minister and the deputy chief minister.”
Determined to halt the project, over 90,000 Bengalureans have signed up for an online petition on the Change.org platform that said: “The proposed North-South Elevated Corridor will destroy 120 fully-grown trees in Cubbon Park. This could also result in the axing of over 3,700 trees.” Bengaluru is not a Garden City anymore. “The said afforestation plan will take years to grow into trees. Trees are way more important than the elevated corridor. We need fresh air to breathe. If we let these trees go at this rate, Bengaluru will be uninhabitable in a few years.” Across social media platforms, questions came thick and fast, questioning the rationale behind the corridor project. “Does the so-called project report address congestion on the existing roads that gets narrowed while the corridor construction progresses for the next five to 10 years?” was one of several queries. Besides the increased commute time and loss of productivity, questions were also raised on the project’s impact on the environment, loss of green cover, climate change, increased temperatures, flora & fauna lost, and the high pollution during the construction work.