The state government has been on an inauguration spree. The ruling party has been traveling across the state launching everything, from mega infrastructure projects, like the Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway, to toy trains.
It is no coincidence that this frantic activity comes in the lead up to elections. The ruling party pats itself on the back with full page ads for projects that are almost finished, incomplete, just beginning or still in the conceptual state.
But how do these projects fare after the fanfare?
Prime Minister inaugurates, rains disintegrate
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited the city at least five times since last November. In March, this year, he inaugurated two highly anticipated projects: Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway and the Whitefield-KR Puram metro line. The PM also undertook the maiden voyage on the new metro line.
Previously, it took upto 4 hours to travel from Bengaluru to Mysuru. On the expressway, the distance can be covered in 75 minutes. This significantly cuts down travel time for office goers. However, commuters must still account for the time it takes to reach the expressway from the rest of the city.
However, neither project is fully complete. The expressway, in particular, is mired in controversy.
Three days after the inauguration, photos emerged of damage on the expressway, prompting the Congress party to allege that the project was hastily inaugurated. A week after the inauguration, the much touted road was damaged by the rains, exposing shoddy workmanship. The government blamed villagers.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), also tried to hike toll on the road by 22%. This plan was shelved after widespread criticism and protest. Small businesses, like eateries and the famed Chennapatna toy stores, are angry at losing out on customers as the expressway does not have any space for these businesses.
The Whitefield-KR Puram metro has been largely appreciated by commuters, but the line is incomplete as it does not connect to Baiyappanahalli metro station from KR Puram. Commuters have to rely on feeder buses to fill this gap, throwing up familiar issues of last mile connectivity. The missing link will be completed by the end of June, according to BMRCL. However, that is well after the May 10th election. The entire metro service is also currently running on a single track.
Commuters were willing to adjust to these inconsistencies but, like the expressway, a single thunderstorm has exposed the weaknesses in the design. The Nallurhalli metro station was flooded on April 4th, after evening showers. Citizen’s group Whitefield Rising documented how the roof of the station was leaking and the floor had at least ankle length water. It has been 11 days since the PM inaugurated the line.
Completed projects await inauguration
In November last year, PM Modi inaugurated the first phase of Terminal 2 of the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) and a Kempegowda statue. Before that, in June 2022, he inaugurated the Sir M Vishweshwaraiah Terminal (SMVT), India’s first airport-like terminal. Both projects were heavily publicised and covered by the media, but were beset with delays. Terminal 2 only began operations in January this year, two months after the inauguration.
SMVT station was reportedly ready for months, awaiting the inauguration. It has been reported that in July 2021, despite the station being ready for months, it was not opened to the public, because the Railways were waiting for it to be inaugurated.
In April last year, it was reported that the station would be operational in two months and the officials were preparing for inauguration. It finally began operations with just three trains on June 6 2022. It was finally inaugurated on June 20th, last year.
The much publicised airport-like terminal is yet to be connected to the Baiyappanahalli Metro Station. Approach roads to the station are also in bad shape, making reaching the fully air conditioned station a challenge. Transit and mobility advocates in the city also question the need for an airport-like railway station at such great cost, when basics such as public toilets were missing.
Inauguration of incomplete works
Not to be left behind, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has been on an inauguration spree since last year. However, several projects are still incomplete.
In March 2023, the CM inaugurated an unfinished renovated campus for the Bengaluru City University. It was reported that the inaugurations were held before the work was completed because the model code of conduct would be in place soon. University sources also told the media that the CM and Education Minister CN Ashwath Narayan did not even tour the campus to see the progress of the work.
The CM inaugurated the Kalasipalya Bus Terminal in February 2023. The revamped bus station project has been delayed several times due to BMTC’s financial issues. The station was finally ready in December last year, but the opening was delayed until inauguration. The CM finally inaugurated the station on February 24th and the station only began operating on March 10th.
The state government appears to not be verifying the success of the project or quality of workmanship before inaugurations.
In February, he inaugurated the Suranjandas Road underpass, which was to solve all traffic problems in the area. However, it was reported that the underpass had merely shifted the traffic problem further along the road.
In December last year, the CM inaugurated a 500 metre-long road in Binnamangala. This was part of a pilot project to build roads using a new “rapid road technology” by the BBMP, in collaboration with a private firm.
The CM said, during the inauguration, that BBMP would now proceed to check the feasibility of the project. The new technology has since been abandoned, as the private firm refused to pay for a feasibility study.
A slew of private projects have also been inaugurated, such as a co-working space by BHIVE and the new IKEA store in Nagasandra. However, the most perplexing inauguration was the toy train at the newly renovated Bal Bhavan at Cubbon Park. Netizens asked if the Chief Minister really needs to inaugurate toy trains.