In an interview with Citizen Matters done in 2016, Rajendra Kumar Mishra, popularly known as R K Mishra, had said that the proposed elevated corridor project would encourage public transport. This was at the height of the public opposition to the proposed Steel flyover where the pros and cons of flyovers were being hotly debated. In the last part of our four part series on the Steel Flyover/ elevated corridor projects, we spoke to Misra, who as a member of the Chief Minister’s Vision Group, had batted for the Elevated Corridor Project.
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Right at the outset, Mishra denied ever being a supporter of the steel flyover project and was vocally critical of it, “This project is being pushed for reasons that have nothing to do with infrastructure. I argued then and I repeat it now. The steel flyover from Chalukya to Hebbal would not solve any problem and would only shift it from Point A to point B. I am in favour of multi-pronged approach for mobility. The projects haven’t been prioritised right,” he said. Mishra also went after the political establishment for pushing the projects “The departments which are meant to implement these projects have ministers from different parties. These ministers need to explain to the public about their delay tactics.”
Despite his support for the 92 km north south corridor, Mishra insisted that he was no fan of concrete or steel. “I am for public transport. I wrote the Electric Vehicle Policy for Karnataka and even demanded that that there be a priority lane (not like the BRTS which is a dedicated lane) for buses. The elevated corridor will free up space on the at grade road and allow for priority lanes for buses that will automatically bring the traffic down,” he added.
He also added that he has been pushing for BMTC to increase their bus fleet strength. “Why don’t we have twelve thousand buses to encourage public transport? Have a priority lane for the buses and if we can get that done, I will be the first guy to say scrap the elevated corridor project. If I had to choose between 12,000 buses or the Elevated Corridor project, I’d choose the former,” he said.
So why didn’t he do just that? When quizzed about why he pushed for the elevated corridor project instead of more buses for the city, Misra said that he has failed. “I tried and failed. The priority lane for buses did not happen because the traffic police did not cooperate,” he said.
Misra’s opinion was that, the traffic chaos in Bengaluru could be blamed on the lack of political will, and the non-cooperation of the traffic police. However the question remains as to why, when it was possible to push for a Rs 25,000 crore elevated project, it seems to be difficult to execute simpler and more cost-effective measures for traffic decongestion including more buses, with the government.