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Public Statement by academics on futility of road widening in Bengaluru.

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Following is the text of the letter addressed to

  • Shri S. Suresh Kumar, Minister for Urban Development, Government of Karnataka
  • Smt. Sharadamma, Worshipful Mayor, BBMP
  • Shri S. Harish, Deputy Mayor, BBMP
  • Dr. A. Ravindra, IAS (Retd.), Advisor to Hon’ble Chief Minister on Urban Affairs
  • Shri K. Jairaj, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka
  • Shri K.M. Shivakumar, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department, Government of Karnataka
  • Shri S. K. Lohia, Director (Urban Transport) and OSD, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India
  • Shri. Sidddaiah, IAS, Commissioner, BBMP


by Dr. Harini Nagendra, Ms. Jahnavi Pai and Dr. H. S. Sudhira, on behalf of 71 academicians and researchers from different institutions and experts in Bengaluru and Karnataka.

As researchers and academics working in Bengaluru, we witness with great anguish and alarm the wide scale felling of tens of thousands of trees that has taken place across the city over the past few years in the name of road expansion and infrastructure development. We also note with alarm that new projects are announced daily, and the scale of tree feeling that Bengaluru is set to witness in the next few years will be even more than it has faced in the past. We believe strongly that such large scale plans are destructive for the city, and not required. As scientists and professionals with a strong background in research, we suggest that careful analysis of the current situation and a scientific search for sustainable alternatives is urgently required. Please find a public statement of our concerns and recommendations below.

We thank you for your attention to our concerns. We would be happy to help to put together an interdisciplinary, scientific panel of internationally and nationally recognized experts from different areas of inquiry including traffic and transport, ecology, urban planning and human well being to assist with a search for an alternative approach.

Thanking you,


Text of the Public Statement (in English) enclosed with above letter (both English and Kannada versions, along-with the list of signatories, are in the attachments)

Bengaluru-wide road widening is misguided, short term and environmentally destructive: Urgently requires scientific assessment

The recent felling of 18 trees by BBMP along the Sankey tank bund is a fallout of the misguided, short term and inadequate solution to increasing traffic congestion through road-widening envisaged by Bengaluru’s elected representatives. Traffic congestion is undoubtedly one of the pressing issues in Bengaluru city. However, BBMP has been attempting to address this through ‘supply side measures’ – by way of road widening. On this pretext it has been systematically felling trees that have rendered the streets devoid of any shade or other ecosystem services. We have reasons to believe that this approach is unscientific and unsustainable.

Worldwide numerous scientific studies have pointed out that 'supply side measures' like road widening will not solve the problem of traffic congestion. In a congested network expanding the capacity by way of an additional link is only going to increase the traffic and will be counterproductive, as numerous studies have established. Instead, the introduction of 'demand side management' measures like regulation of on-street parking and congestion tax will be much more useful to tackle congestion.

This leads us to question the felling of trees for the purpose of road-widening. The trees that were felled along the bund of Sankey tank included Syzigium, Tamarind and 3 species of Ficus – all important resources for supporting urban biodiversity. This felling unfortunately represents just a small fraction of the massive loss in tree cover that Bengaluru will experience as a consequence of road widening. A mega project of road-widening has been planned for 216 roads in Bengaluru. There is extensive research demonstrating how street trees are crucial for a city, providing crucial environmental services, reducing temperature and mitigating air pollution, as well as providing important ecological habitats and corridors for many migratory and endangered species.


Though the BBMP claims to plant 2-3 saplings for each tree that is felled, these saplings are not planted on the same roads where felling is done, or even in publicly accessible areas but instead they are planted in remote locations. Their survival rate is poor, and it takes at least a couple of decades for saplings to grow to provide anywhere near the same environmental and ecological benefits that these large felled trees provide today. A sterile and concretised urban environment is not only unsustainable but also unhealthy for city-dwellers. We urge that a thorough, scientific assessment of environmental and social impacts of projects must be undertaken, including verification of claims of reduction in traffic congestion, before executing these large scale, ill designed, faulty and environmentally damaging plans for massive road widening at the city scale in Bengaluru.

The scientific community coming out openly like this is indeed a welcome development. It is going to be difficult now for the powers that be to ignore this call.

Muralidhar Rao

 

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Public Statement by academics on futility of road widening in Bengaluru.pdf130.33 KB
Kannada - Public Statement by academics on futility of road widening in Bengaluru.pdf140.09 KB

Comments

idontspam's picture

will BBMP see reason?

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will BBMP see reason?

rs's picture

I dont think BBMP will see

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I dont think BBMP will see reason - they havent so far in any of the protests regarding this issue or related issues. The organization is far too corrupt and politicised. One has to wonder why all these things become political issues - why are the BJP cadre involved in support of the madness ? And in the other case concerning the flyover near Deve Gowda's petrol bunk - thats clearly a battle between Ashok and Deve Gowda/Kumaraswamy. In the end, the people are the losers.

Meanwhile the underpass at CNR Rao circle seems to be taking forever and if they decide to go ahead with their mindless schemes/scams Malleswaram will be under construction for the next several years and in the end will become a concrete wasteland. What a tragedy and a shame !

All these things could have been avoided with a little bit of planning and care. I think the problem is that this city of 10 million, which is the `Silicon valley' of India and a `Eductional hub' is run by a bunch of greedy, illiterate people with nothing but very short term self-interests.

Ramesh

 

 

 

 

 

srinidhi's picture

pseudo activists..

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No matter who comments..BBMP sees everone who comments against Sankey road widening as pseudo activists..its like ppl with kaamaale..the whole world is yellow!

idontspam's picture

is run by a bunch of greedy,

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105 users have liked.

is run by a bunch of greedy, illiterate people with nothing but very short term self-interests

well put!

Ravi_D's picture

I hope they do...

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101 users have liked.

...read such letters. Good to see citizens (especially the academics) waking up and sticking their neck out. Such letters deserve to be on the front page of every newspaper in Bangalore.

idontspam's picture

Sankey road widening - why

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captainjohann's picture

Road widening

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  I read with interest the statment of Scientists and Intellectuals about Sankey road widening and preservation of trees.

   their solution "regulation of stree parking " and "congestion tax".

This shows their real intension is to preserve the beautiful surroundings of the people who live near Sankey road and not preservation of Bangalore ecology.As city centre grows, it is imperative that those who live near sankey road,Kumara krupa etc etc vacate those areas for road widening and go and live in suburbs.Common pedestrians, scooter and car drivers and bus drivers are the ones who are going to be benefitted.The cry of intellectual is bogus to preserve utopian lifestyle with minimum cost to themselves.

Greatness lies NOT in never falling but in rising everytime we fall.

http://www.captainjohann.blogspot.com

idontspam's picture

As city centre grows, it is

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As city centre grows, it is imperative that those who live near sankey road,Kumara krupa etc etc vacate those areas for road widening and go and live in suburbs

This comment shows a lack of understanding of urban planning, population growth, vehicle growth, public transport, modal trips, traffic study, road use efficiency etc. Bring those stats to the discussion & we can seriously debate.

Urban planning is not about displacing people from the core & creating sprawl. Instead it is about densification of the core, moving people into HOV's and restricting high speed private transport to select corridors. If you can show an understanding of these issues I am sure the academics themselves will take your rant seriously, else you can join the local corporator/MLA/MP & make some money on road contracts.

Bumper sticker seen on a car today: Dont steal, the government doesnt like competition

Vasanth's picture

Move to suburbs - Easy said than done..

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CaptainJohann,  Today it is the Sankey Road, and tomorrow it could be your house itself if you own one which might be acquired for road widening..Now you might say I don't bother, but when it comes to the crunch moment, you would use laws against road widening. Mind you, no one here is fighting to save their houses, but the Green cover of Bangalore without any self interest.

Trees that were cut were planted 150 to 200 years back and to get the same type of tree, it will take another 200 years. Already the city is heating up due to increased number of vehicles especially cars which are heating up the temperature of the city as well as consuming road space. These trees are compensating the heat generated, if we loose them, everyone in Bangalore might have to live with air conditioners at home all the time with artificial cool air.

Along with that, there is no guarantee that the traffic will move freely after widening. Bellary Road in front of Le-Meridean / Golf Course is an example of this. In other words, we will be loosing our Green cover for nothing.

 

rs's picture

The unfortunate thing about

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107 users have liked.

The unfortunate thing about this battle for Sankey Tank is that is being framed as a battle between the elitists of Malleswaram and Sadashivnagar versus the `common man' who is stuck in traffic at Bhasyam circle. A lot of people seem to believe that widening is necessary and will benefit them and the only reason that the elitists want to preserve the trees is that they are selfish and want their green cover protected at the cost of the comfort of the common man who has to  spend 15 minutes at that junction.

The fact, which BBMP hides and most people fail to realise is that simply - Road widening does not work. Race Course road was widened and all that happened is that people now park on the side of the street and when there is a jam there is no shade for the poor motorcyclist.  Seshadri road was widened and it has made life more difficult for the common man - jams are the same and no shade from the sun. 

God knows what they were thinking when they were smoking when they created the mess at KR circle. There are well established practices for maintaining junctions where several roads meet worldwide but the BBMP has to come up with their own crazy unique `solution' which doesnt work. Another fantastic mess is the circle in front of Cantonment station - what a royal mess !

One isnt saying dont cut trees at all - one is saying `study the situation, manage traffic and, as a last resort, cut a few trees.'. The real problem has always been management of traffic. Junctions have to be cleaned up. Footpaths have to be made so that people arent forced to walk on the road. Free lefts, one ways etc. have to be explored before any decision to cut trees. Perhaps BBMP seem to think that by doing a `tree yagna' they will magically solve all of Bangalore's traffic problems. Unfortunately, it is not so easy ! 

 

Ramesh

Vasanth's picture

Signalling System is poor leading to all the problems

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102 users have liked.

I would simply say that our so called 'intelligent signalling system' by BTIS is very poor. BTIS say that it can sense the traffic load and adjust the timings, but it is not doing so.

Our good old Policeman manning the signal was good enough. This long wait in the signals should be addressed first by BTIS. Then comes improvement in the facilities, such as allowing only right turning traffic  to take the right turn using physical plastic barricades, left turning traffic to take the left lane again by segregating lanes by Plastic Barricades.  

In Mysore, 8 signals were replaced back with circles or roundabouts and everything is working fine now.

 

 

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