On Sunday morning, thousands of Bengaluru residents were in no mood to “swalpa adjust” – adjust just a little. A proposal to build a steel flyover from Chalukya Circle to Hebbal Junction, a project that has been recently cleared by the state government before details were made public, has elicited heated protests from citizen groups and individuals. People of all age groups took to the streets holding placards saying “steel flyover beda” – steel flyover not wanted.
Most often, Bengaluru residents would welcome a proposal to decongest the city’s roads. But this project seems more destructive than beneficial. The six-lane steel flyover that is supposed to cover a distance of 6.7 km will cost about Rs 1,800 crores. More than 3 acres of government land and more than 1 acre or private land at the centre of Bengaluru – still some of the greenest spaces in the city – will need to be acquired for the project. The plan suggests that 812 trees will be felled in the process. Despite government assurances to the contrary, citizens groups are also concerned about the fate of heritage buildings and monuments along the way.
At the behest of urban activists who have formed a group called Citizens Against Steel Flyover, scores of residents welfare associations and hundreds of individuals living in Bengaluru came out to form a human chain joining the two ends of the proposed project. Their demands were for the government to give up on building one expensive steel flyover and focus on an integrated mobility plan for Bangalore that includes better public transport with more trains and buses and safer footpaths.
Urban activists have been concerned over the secrecy surrounding the project that the government seems to have cleared in a hurry. Many groups have reported the Bangalore Development Authority's reluctance to share the Detailed Project Report, which has only been out up on the government website a few days ago after he project was cleared b the government and the move widely reported in the media. Activists have also urged Larsen and Toubro, which has won the contract for the project, to withdraw.