In 2016, the Government of Karnataka cancelled the proposed Steel Flyover starting from Basaveshwara Circle to Hebbal. The project was touted as a measure to ease traffic to the International Airport. However following citizen protests and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order, the government shelved those plans. Come 2019, the Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, G Parameshwara reopened the debate, when he said the government was reconsidering the project.
The steel flyover project brought forward the citizen activism in the city which many credit for the scrapping of the project by the government. While a large part of the public narrative has been that the project may not be the most feasible idea as a traffic management measure, there have been other view points as well.
In a multi-part video series, Citizen Matters spoke to people with different view points to stitch a cohesive narrative of what a majority agrees a problem with traffic. We began with Vijayan Menon, a senior member of the Citizen Action Forum that went to NGT along with others, against the project and brought the project to a stop.
However as an active proponent of the Ejipura flyover that was pushed by the residents of Koramangala to divert traffic entering into their residential locality to access Sarjapur and areas beyond, Menon opined that one can’t argue in terms of absolutes with traffic measures. “Let me clarify the CAF position with the steel flyover. Our push was against the process of the having an infrastructure project without it being present in the RMP. It wasn’t about the merits or demerits of the project itself ,” he said.
The engineer also agreed that there is a dichotomy in his own personal stand with flyovers in general and that was to be expected. “The position that Bangalore is in (with its traffic), we need to throw everything at it. Flyovers, public transport, metro – everything” was his take. He also cautioned that no citizen movement can claim to represent a universal will of the people.
“Residents of North Bangalore wanting the steel flyover has already appeared in the media and the Government will run with it to push the project. The citizen groups should actually agree with that and say that North Bangalore must absolutely have a say in the matter. Nobody can claim to represent everybody and that is true even of my journey in this space,” he cautions.
Menon also opines that having entrenched ideas to sort traffic woes will not help. “There can be no conversation if we are coming from entrenched positions. We opposed the steel flyover on due process and pushed for the Ejipura flyover (though it does not allow the process completely) because most of the studies don’t take into consideration the impact it has on the neighbourhoods they go through.”
Video of the interview: