CM sets roads rolling to nowhere
Feb 17, 2014
Source : The Times of India


BANGALORE: CM Siddaramaiah's allocation for Bangalore's roads - a surprising Rs 8,800 crore - is enough to beat Singapore's smooth network. The funds are earmarked for roads and related infrastructure, including road widening, elevated corridors, grade separators etc. But look close, and there's nothing concrete about the plans.

The CM hasn't fixed any clear deadline for most of these projects, and is depending on external funding to implement them. Ironically, for similar reasons, many roads announced in the 2013 budget never saw the light of the day. Many are also caught up in problems of land acquisition and citizens' protests.

Among the new projects, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) will develop an elevated corridor between Basaveshwara Circle (Chalukya Circle) to Hebbal Junction at a cost of Rs 1,100 cr. While BDA officials say the project would facilitate seamless connectivity between the city centre and KIA, experts raise questions about its feasibility. "A similar proposal along the stretch a few years was dropped as an elevated route alignment couldn't negotiate Windsor Manor Bridge and a railway bridge on the way," said a former bureaucrat.

Urban expert V Ravichander said decisions on major projects, like the elevated corridor on a road connecting the airport, should be backed by a detailed project report or have been discussed at forums like the Metropolitan Planning Committee. "If the aim is to improve connectivity to the airport, the project should be comprehensive, considering other routes connecting the airport," he added.

A second elevated road proposes to connect ALISDA near Goraguntepalya, off Tumkur Road, and BEL Circle along the ORR, with an estimated investment of Rs 191.86 cr. With problems on acquiring railway land along the route, the authorities are struggling to construct a flyover here, and talk of an entire elevated road would be a challenge. For both projects, there is no direct funding from the state government and they have to depend on Jn-Nurm.

Forget the new proposals, two elevated corridors proposed in Siddaramaiah's 2013 budget -- Jayadeva Hospital Junction to Central Silk Board (Rs 150 cr) and Ejipura Junction to Sarjapura Road via Sony World junction in Koramangala (Rs 200 cr) - are yet to get off the drawing board.

Urban expert Ashwin Mahesh said the CM has not allotted enough money to a major local body like the BBMP. "Without proper backing from the state government, most projects will remain on paper," he added.

While the CM has said BDA would develop the Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) at a cost of Rs 5,800 cr, the announcement comes with a rider of JICA assistance. While discussions on this project started about a decade ago, there was no proper response for several global tenders called. While the project proposes to connect Tumkur Road and Hosur Road via Doddaballapur Road, Bellary Road, Old Madras Road and Sarjapur Road, land acquisition hurdles are already haunting the project.

Except for the move to develop 12 main roads under Tender Sure at Rs 300 cr, which is gaining some momentum, many road projects such as development of selected arterial and sub-arterial roads for smooth flow of traffic at Rs 500 cr, widening of selected roads at a cost of Rs 300 cr, RUB and ROB (Rs 200 cr), junction improvement (Rs 100 cr), grade separators (Rs 200 cr) are mostly repeat announcements from the previous budget.


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