Why the Court stopped BDA’s work

BDA can no longer work on the five grade separator projects planned in Koramangala. On February 27th, High Court ordered a stay based on a PIL filed by Koramangala residents.

Pic: Deepthi M S

Residents had been in discussions with BDA for over six months to re-consider flyover and underpass projects at Koramangala water tank, Krupanidhi college, 80-feet road – Sarjapur road intersection and Jakkasandra junctions. These works alone cost Rs 120 cr. This is part of the larger signal-free corridor project from Agara to Sirsi Circle, planned by BBMP in 2009. The project is implemented by BDA.

Residents had filed the PIL as BDA was responding to their objections. Though BDA stopped works after discussions, it restarted works soon after, discreetly.

In a meeting in December, Chief Minister told residents and BDA that the project will be stopped until a detailed review is done. But in January, work started again and had to be stopped by residents.

Residents’ objections to the project

  • The project had no proper traffic study and feasibility study.
  • Disrupt local traffic and ruin Koramangala’s residential character.
  • No Environment Impact Assessment clearance for cutting 88 trees for the four junction works.
  • No planning for pedestrian, non-motorised traffic.

In the petition, residents have not demanded termination of the project, but have said that detailed studies should be done and alternatives considered.

Vijayan Menon, one of the petitioners, says, "We are using this case to highlight problems in all infrastructure projects in the city. Residents should be consulted and information disclosed for every project."

In the PIL, petitioners point out that BDA had not completed feasibility study for the project even six months after tenders were invited and awarded in June. Also, work was started without completing the DPR (Detailed Project Report) for 16 other junctions in the corridor. The DPRs were prepared only for the Koramangala junctions, and is still being prepared for other junctions. BDA’s reason for starting works was that land acquisition would be minimal in Koramangala. However, residents allege that these works have been started in a hurry to benefit builders of upcoming projects in Sarjapur.

Another major aspect of the PIL is the varied data in different traffic studies. Due to residents’ protest, BDA had done a second traffic study in November 2011, whose numbers varied highly from its initial October 2010 study.

Who are the petitioners
Civil society group CAF (Citizens Action Forum), RWAs of Koramangala 1st and 3rd block, Kuvempu Nagara and Visvesvaraya Nagara, and three individual residents of Koramangala. Case is against BBMP, BDA and traffic police.

Take the case of Krupanidhi College junction. Here BDA’s old figures had shown that the 7.5 m underpass would carry 64% of the traffic, and that the 5.5 m slip road towards Madiwala will carry 36% of traffic. These numbers are almost reversed now, with only 35% vehicles going towards underpass direction and 65% vehicles going in slip road direction to Madiwala.

PIL also says that congestion on Sarjapur road is caused mainly by vehicles coming from Hosur road and IRR; and that if these roads are improved, the new project would not be required.

There are also concerns that the while the corridor will bring arterial road connectivity, it will affect local traffic. Slip roads planned for the grade separators are too narrow and will cause congestion of vehicles that are moving around in Koramangala, petitioners say. Hence they demand elevated corridor instead of grade separators, as elevated corridors consume lesser space and do not affect on-ground traffic. Congestion will affect the residential character of Koramangala, they say. BDA had earlier rejected the elevated corridor plan, citing paucity of funds, but CM had agreed to consider it.

A BDA engineer in charge of the project has confirmed that the project has been suspended. "Since the stay is on the entire corridor, we are not working on the DPR for the other junctions also," he says. Next hearing of the case is on March 20th.

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About Navya P K 317 Articles
Navya has 12 years of experience in journalism, covering development, urban governance and environment. She was earlier Senior Journalist, Citizen Matters, and Reporter, The New Indian Express. She has also freelanced for publications such as The News Minute, Factor Daily and India Together. Navya won the All India Environment Journalism Award, 2013, for her investigative series on the environmental violations of an upcoming SEZ in Bengaluru, published in Citizen Matters. She also won the PII-UNICEF fellowship in 2016 to report on child rights in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Navya has an MA in Political Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and a PG Diploma from the Asian College of Journalism.