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Widening Palace Road at the cost of trees is not a solution

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There is a proposal to widen The Palace Road (TPR) in Bangalore for ensuring smooth flow of traffic to the Airport. Apart from the economic cost, the bigger one is the ecological cost which will be paid in the form of felling 856 trees. Thanks to citizen protests and Chief Secretary of the Government of Karnataka, Shri S V Ranganath, IAS, the BBMP has been asked to rework the plan/find alternatives and reduce substantially the number of trees to be felled. The Chief Secretary truly needs to be complemented for his vision and compassion towards ecological issues. We need more senior officials like him who take note of citizen concerns.

This blog is not about criticizing the Government. Through this blog I am trying to suggest possible solutions to the perennial question "Do Bangalore roads require widening?"

This blog written in two parts is based on my own experience in using Bangalore roads in all the forms possible i.e. pedestrian, motorist and a four wheeler user. This blog is based on a couple of RTI applications made to the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (the sole public transport option in Bangalore).

To begin with, should Bangalore roads be widened? The simple answer is No, Never and Impossible. A question may arise why is it impossible? The numbers of two and four wheelers on Bangalore roads are increasing at a neck-breaking pace. Widening roads to meet increased population of two and four wheelers is like a captain in Cricket trying to set a field for bad bowling! How much can the roads be widened, from 80 to 120 feet; from 100 to 150; next 150 to 200 and at this rate Bangalore will become a "Road City".

Coming to the hotbed of road widening in Bangalore i.e. TPR, the stretch from Doordarshan studios to Mekhri Circle is an oasis in the mad traffic of Bangalore. A road laden with trees on either side of the road! How can such a haven be done away with to ensure smooth journey for an air-traveller? I have nothing against people going by a flight but this price is too much to pay for their comfort. The most important thing to bear in mind is that not all those going to Bangalore International Airport use this road. It is only those people coming from North-Eastern part of Bangalore who use this road. Let them plan their journeys better or use public transport to reach the airport.

The biggest irony in this clamour for widening of TPR is the mess that has been recently created thanks to a grade separator which has been constructed near the Cantonment Railway Station. There are two approach roads to TPR viz., Via Theological College on Millers Road and another via Nandidurg Road. Millers Road is wide enough whereas Nandidurg Road is a narrower road. Thanks to a grade separator constructed near the Cantonment Railway Station under-bridge, the Theological College Road has become a virtual one way whereas the narrower Nandidurg Road has become a bottleneck for traffic. It is the impact of this faulty construction which has made widening of TPR imperative.

The simple logic applicable in Bangalore Roads is "Wider the road, crazier the traffic goes". The traffic police cannot be blamed for this mess because traffic discipline has to be a citizen initiative and cannot be enforced upon. If you follow lane discipline, drive at prescribed speed limits, maintain distance between vehicles and such other traffic courtesies, etc. be ready to see the middle finger of an overtaking vehicle or get the choicest abuses. Traffic in Bangalore has become so impolite that even an Ambulance finds it difficult to make its way through. On TPR, it is a common sight to see motorist ride on footpaths to beat the traffic, does that mean, next footpaths will be eliminated from the roads?

That Bangalore roads don’t befit its status of being the Silicon City of the country is too well documented. The road in question, TPR, is broken so badly in the stretch from Fun World to Doordarshan Signal that at times I feel it would be better to carry my car on the shoulders rather than drive on this stretch. Will widening this road or for that matter any road improve its maintenance? It is important to bear in mind, that a well maintained road ensures smoother movement of traffic than a wide road which is badly maintained. Seshadri Road was widened after felling a lot of trees, has it improved the situation there? The answer is no.

In my next part on this issue, I will be discussing Public Transport solutions as against widening Bangalore Roads and a few other issues related to Bangalore roads.

[NOTE: Post now cleaned up for excessive formatting - admin]

Comments

idontspam's picture

TPR??? what is that?

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There is no road called TPR, please use the proper names so we can critique or offer solutions. There is a distinction to be made between the Chowdiah road stretch & the jayamahal road stretch. One is a corridor with hole in the wall marriage halls and its own issues while the other is not.

balu036's picture

idontspam, read the facts and

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idontspam, read the facts and later distort them. if you had read right at  the beginning I have given the acronym TPR for the The Palace Road. Have so much of patience in life before ridiculing someone.

Any novice reader can tell you which stretch of Palace Road I am talking about yes it is the Jayamahal stretch where 856 trees are to be felled. This is well known to everybody who is staying in Bangalore for the past 3 months.

 

Hope now you will give your solutions or critique

 

With kind regards

 

Balu

srinidhi's picture

junction improvements works?

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 As of what I understand, the major bottleneck on this road is the traffic turning on the CIL road is responsible for delays on this stretch..so a junction improvement is the need for the hour..some land from the DD compound and some of defence land and palace ground should easily set this stretch right..

Maybe a one way MUP(magic under pass) at the Nandi Druga road junction should ideally de-stress this road completely..

Btw Balu..all here on Praja do agree on the fact that unwanted widening is not the solution to handle the mad traffic

idontspam's picture

 if you had read right at 

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 if you had read right at  the beginning I have given the acronym TPR for the The Palace Road

There is no reference in the first 6 paragraphs which is you call the "beginning" defining what TPR is. Let me repeat there is no road called "The Palace Road". There is Jayamahal road and there is Chowdiah/Bellary road.

I did not introduce any new term for you to claim I am distorting facts. More importantly I am now wondering why you chose the obfuscation to this new term called TPR instead of using the road names that everybody knows?

There is a proposal to widen The Palace Road (TPR) 

Since you accuse me of distortion let me point out to your above comment "right at the beginning". There is NO proposal to widen "The Palace Road". I have read both the DPR's with my colleagues. Please point me to the proposal which says so.

idontspam's picture

Traffic simulation software

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so a junction improvement is the need for the hour

True and it hasnt even been tried out. I am disappointed none of these DPR's contain data from the usage of traffic simulation software like this to show before & after condition. When you are fiddling with major roads in a big city, isnt that a requirement?

Naveen's picture

Palace Rd is not being widened

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The names of the roads being widened are Jayamahal rd (east & north of Palace grounds); & Chowdiah or Bellary rd (West of Palace grounds). The term TPR is inappropriate since there are two other rds - one named 'Palace rd' & the other named 'Palace rd cross', both of which are not being widened.

Whilst acknowledging that unnecessary road widening must be avoided, there may be certain roads or stretches that might need widening & other improvements. Eg. very narrow roads in erstwhile CMC areas,  narrower stretches along main thoroughfares, etc. All modes of transport must be catered for, since every individual cannot travel only by bus for various reasons.

kbsyed61's picture

Jaymahal Road - Cantonment to Mekhri Circke via Funworld!

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balu036,

"...TPR, the stretch from Doordarshan studios to Mekhri Circle is an oasis in the mad traffic of Bangalore..."

"...The road in question, TPR, is broken so badly in the stretch from Fun World to Doordarshan Signal.."

You are mistaken in referring "Jayamahal Raod" as the TPR. The stretch from Cantonment Station to Mekhri circle via Jaymahal Extn, J C Nagar (Fun world), Doordarshan Kendr (CIL) upto Mekhri Circle is "Jaymahal Road".

Just go ahead and make the corrections in the main discussions post so that the discussion is about Road Widening, not on whether it is Jayamahal Road or TPR.

-Syed

rajachandra's picture

Widening of Roads & Palace Grounds

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This is not the first time Roads circumscribing Bangalore Palace Grounds was widened by swallowing a part of the Palace Ground itself.  First in 1999 Palace Cross Road was widened by acquiring around 20mt X 650Mt of Palace Land. Even then number of Trees along the Palace Cross Road was destroyed. Even the BBMP does not have any record of its own action.

Once again in 2001, while building grade Separator at Mekhri Circle around 8500 Sq. Mt of Palace land along the Ramana Maharshi Road was confiscated with associated loss of Green Cover.

In 2005, around 1700 Sq.Mt of Palace Land was usurped to facilitate Road widening from the newly constructed RUB near cantonment Railway station. In the process few Heritage Structure in this stretch was also demolished clandestinely. Again no record of loss of Green cover is available except   repeated attempt to shift the onus to the owners going to the extent issuing NBW to some of them!

Now in 2010, the then Commissioner Mr. B.Meena  initiated his mega plan to widen both the Jayamahal Road and Ramana Mahrshi Road/ Chowdiah Road ( Bellary Road). On Jayamahal Road a total of around 10 acre is proposed to be sued to widen the Road from Mekhri Circle to Cantonment Station by around 30/45 mt.  In addition a total of around 7 acres of Palace Land is proposed to be used to widen the Bellary Road from the Mekhri Circle Grade Separator end to Guttahalli Magic Box end by around 45 Mt.  Again no census of Trees which come under   the axe was prepared before hurriedly starting the building of New Compound in the entire stretch.

But way back in early 60's a well maintained fruit orchard with thousands of Trees were destroyed  to pave way for the Lower/ Upper Palace orchard, Sadashivanagar & RMV Extension.  This covered over 250 acres. Only oasis today is the land gifted to Sir C.V. Raman by the late Maharaja.

Palace Grounds itself which in 1950 was claimed to be around 600 cares is to day only around 450 acres.

In the last one year quietly the stretch from Mekhri Circle to IISC is being widened. Already quite a number of Trees within Air force Training Command has been cut and a New Compound is being built within.

In the light of this sudden uproar about only Jaya Mahal Road widening appears is surprising..

So the larger question is development at what cost and when will this hunger for Palace land will end?


Transmogrifier's picture

...none of these DPR's

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...none of these DPR's contain data from the usage of traffic simulation software

Ahh... but you need data for that (road widths, PCUs etc). And we know how much data is available on that.

...the major bottleneck on this road is the traffic turning on the CIL road

Another good place for a trumpet or a half a 'spooey' depending on whose land is cheaper.

----

TM

balu036's picture

idontspam, kindly excuse me

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idontspam, kindly excuse me for the humongous blunder i committed

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