Citizen Action Forum explains their position on the Elevated Corridor controversy — in the light of the recent court order in their writ petition. The petition is related to the functioning of the Metropolitan Planning Committee, the constitutionally mandated body responsible for city planning.
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In our PIL regarding Metropolitan Planning Committee Writ 48720/2014 we have received a recorded mention asking the government “not to precipitate matters” till the Writ is disposed of. This is in specific regard to our Interlocutory Application informing the Court that mega projects like the Elevated Corridors are being planned and tenders floated in the pendency of the Writ. The Court has also indicated that it wishes to rule on the Writ in the shortest time possible.
This for all intent and purposes is a Stay on the project moving forward. We will be following this up with suitable letters to the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, Chief Secretary and to the MPC members.
CAF differentiates process from merits of different cases such as this and it is our sincere opinion that the right process of planning is what is required across many facets of the problems we face in our Bengaluru.
On merits and demerits of the Elevated Corridor project suffice it to say that we are appreciative of more than one narrative to this story. As such we will not be lending our name at the moment, to either a ‘for or against’ platform and concentrate instead on specific aspects of the proposed project and elicit suitable clarifications and sub plans along with commitments. In this regard we will be concentrating as of now on the following two facets:
1. Public transport, specifically bus movement
We are appreciative that the corridors in the drawings show dedicated lanes for bus movement. However, we are of the firm view that to evaluate this functionality, the details of the interaction of the grade bus movements and commuter access with the corridor is necessary. Also, we feel a revamped BMTC bus routing plan and infrastructure build up plan are necessary as commitments. The project is big enough to justify that these details are pinned down accurately before the real role of Public Transport facilitation of the corridor is actually understood. To put it simply until this is pinned down the first construction activity should not start. The last thing we want is the indicated bus lanes remaining a drawing on paper.
2.Tree cover loss and its compensation
We understand that infra structure projects such as these will have some element of tree loss. We are also aware that the environmental agencies and clearances have asked for a 10 to 1 replanting. However, we would reiterate that this is not just a numbers game and an exact nature and location of such replanting is required to fully understand environmental impact. We are also painfully aware that previous replanting plans and commitments across various infrastructure projects have fallen woefully short if not failed altogether. It would take the authorities a fair bit of work to convince us that this time it would be different. We therefore suggest that according to decided location replanting, wherever possible, should commence well in advance of any felling.
CAF acknowledges the commitment of our Bengaluru-in-charge minister to conduct extensive and in-depth citizen, stake holder and experts’ consultations. We would humbly suggest that the authorities do proper homework and research to fully develop sub plans for these and other concerns. These need to be made available for public scrutiny before the start of any formal consultation process. We have seen enough examples of citizen consultations being done as just a tick off in a box.
Citizens’ Action Forum Managing Committee Members
Ramesh C Dutt (President), Vijayan Menon (Vice President), Deshmukh Jyothi(Secretary), Rosita Sequeira (Joint Secretary), B V Mahesh Kumar (Treasurer), D S Rajshekar, N S Mukunda, K P Ramachandra, V N Ramaswami, Ravindranath Guru, N Mukund
This Press Release has been shared by Vijayan Menon of CAF and published as is with minimal edits.