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Koramangala's latest challenge - Hosur road underpasses

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After the "Sarjapur road signal-free corridor" fiasco (check here), where, perhaps for the first time in the history of the city, the road was ordered to be restored to its original condition, after considerable civil work had already progressed, one would have thought that the powers be would be more circumspect in going about undertaking such projects in the style they are wont to. But, no - here they go again - now it's an "integrated underpass" of 3/4 Km length from Forum junction to the Madivala Checkpost junction, and an underpass at the Adugodi junction.

And again, no citizen consultation whatsoever, inspite of it having serious adverse impacts on the lives of the people of Koramangala, both during the project stage, as well as after completion.

Well, this is on top of the other challenges faced by Koramangala -
1) the 11,50,454.98 Sqm (12.4 million sft) Mantri SEZ on the Bellandur flood plains (check here);
2) the Maverick/ Garuda mall, in the Egipura area (check here);
3) the non-transparent Shantinagar House Building Co-op Society developments, over the 65 acre area in the vicinity of the Nirgun Mandir (check here), to name just a few.

The following is the mail sent by a member of the Koramangala Infrastructure Task Force to a senior government official, giving the citizen perspective in the matter in some detail, requesting that the matter be brought to the attention of the Chief Minister:

There is an issue which is agitating the residents of the area and I am writing to bring this matter to your kind attention so that you could brief the Chief Minister on the issue.
An unscientific and poorly planned project is being proposed by the Government on Hosur Road as part of the Vellara to Silk Board junction Signal Free Corridor. This year 2 segments of this corridor are being proposed to be taken up in the first phase are:
1. An "integrated underpass" of 3/4 Km length from Forum junction to the Madivala Checkpost junction.
2. An underpass at the Adugodi junction
The main issues that we have against this are:
1. A long open underpass of this length will cut off the road for local traffic, cross turning traffic coming from Marigowda Road and Lal Bagh direction (including interstate buses from Kalasipalya) and restrict all this traffic to a narrow slip road by the side of the underpass. As a result, several choke points will be created. For instance:
(a) At the entry point to Forum Mall which will be through the narrow slip road.
(b) Koramangala bound traffic including Ambulances to St Johns will have to use the narrow slip road only.
(c) Interstate bus traffic coming from Kalasipalya and bound for Tamil Nadu border and beyond will also get restricted to the same portion of narrow slip road.
2. This proposal runs contrary to the report of the Kaushik Mukherjee committee constituted through a G.O. and court order to look into recommendations on Sarjapur Road and Hosur Road, and whose recommendations were accepted in toto by GoK during the previous Government.
3. This proposal has not been vetted by the Technical Advisory Committee of the BBMP. TAC of the BBMP cleared a different proposal for this junction but the drawings being proposed for execution are now radically different.
4. The opinions of citizens groups and RWAs in the area have not been sought and the Government appears to be seeking to thrust a project which is being opposed by all the citizens in the area merely to benefit a certain contractor group.
We enclose with this letter:
(a) Copy of the letter written by us to Sri Somashekar, Chief Engineer Major Roads BBMP. Copies of this letter have also been delivered to Commissioner, Mayor, and Head of the Standing Committee, Major Works BBMP
(b) Copy of the letter written by several Associations to Sri Ramalinga Reddy, Minister-in-Charge, Bangalore Urban District with copies to several others (here)
(c) Copy of the letter written by Sri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP, to the Hon'ble Chief Minister, Sri Siddaramaiah on the subject (here)
In spite of our objections, the tender is at evaluation stage and we apprehend that the tender finalization and work orders processing will take place shortly.

We would be extremely grateful if you could raise this issue with the Chief Minister. The agitated citizens of the area are planning to launch an agitation on this issue which could create unnecessary controversy and cloud the otherwise good performance of the Government. We are hoping that the Chief Minister will listen to the voice of the citizens of the area and direct the Tender to be put on hold immediately.

With sincere thanks in advance and with best wishes

sd/-, etc

One fervently hopes this too doesn't have go the 'Sarjapur road signal-free corridor' route.

Muralidhar Rao


murali772's picture

Commissioner's let down

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Following is the text of a post in 'SavekoramangalaYahoogroup' made by a leading member of the KITF, today:

Thr Bbmp Commissioner Mr Lakshminarayana on many interactions that we have had repeatedly said  that he would not  proceed with the Hosur Road underpass tender until interaction with the reprasentatives of all the people affected by this illconceived project.He had assured the residents that  issues  would be discussed and resolved.

This promise was made in front of scores of witnesses. He did not even initiate an interaction  so nothing positive ever happened. We have come to know that he  has quitely signed the file and forwarded it on. It is sad that he has little regard for propriety or even his own assurances. We know that the Bbmp had tons of problems. But action like this would only result in people  further losing faith in the institution called BBMP and drag down this once proud institution even further. Mr Lakshminarayan has failed all of us and forced us to go on a path for which he has to take the  responsiblity.

Obviously, the members are agitated. Will the powers that be take note even now?

Muralidhar Rao
idontspam's picture

Broken system: elephant in the room

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Every such incident should lead the us to believe why the whole system is broken and will never deliver results to the common man. We need to communicate this to every citizen. BBMP needs to be split, a directly elected mayor with a right to recall should be given all utilities under him & then asked to deliver. Massive rehaul is the only way else we are in for massive shame .

Sanjeev's picture

Already BBMP has done this in different places and its not new

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Only thing remains is Area MLA  gets re-elected and even the MP's, that means people do not care for these issues :

1. Dr Rajkumar Road widening at Rajajinagar with TDS certificate had created big mess during 2009 year, re-call how people fought not widen the road. Finally nothing happened on this,  inspite of giving go ahead.

2.  Malleshwaram area Sampigee road & Rajiv Gandi Circle widening : Huge protest from Save Bangalore, Dr Meenakshi,  forced Dr Ashwathnarayan   not to proceed on road widening.

3. Sadashivanagar :Bashyam Circle underapass : All Trees were cut over night inspite of people fought in the court and  even Suresh Heblikar arrested.  Inspite of this BBMP  went ahead and cut the so lamny trees.  Now no progress happenning.

4.  IISc  Circle underpass completion : How many deadlines are over,  many places flyover and under passes completed, but what happened to this????

Above r the few which I remember during  last few years how BBMP acted and failed.

Lesson is throw the sitting MLA  / MP and elect no party MLA and teach the lessons to major National parties that they will not be re-elected  from that area from next two terms.




murali772's picture

Genuine citizen consultation - imperative need of the hour

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As an alternative to the underpass, KITF submitted the design for a flyover, prepared by an independent consultant. The flyover is meant to connect Adugodi junction to Silk Board junction and will include multiple entry and exit ramps. A senior BBMP official said that the concept is good, but not cost-effective. “Normally, the cost of a flyover is five times that of an underpass.”

A senior BBMP official said that the civic body’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) had approved designs for 50 underpasses in 2009-2010, but The Hindu learnt that separate approval for the integrated underpass was not sought before the tendering process. An official said that underpasses for 50 junctions were cleared by the TAC as part of 11 signal-free corridor projects. Later, the four underpasses on Hosur Road were clubbed together and tenders invited, the official added.

For the full report in "The Hindu", click here.

The general impression sought to be conveyed by BBMP/ BDA officials, and worse by some of the TAC members, is that RWA/ Civil Society members are largely ignorant of the technicalities involved, and opposed to any kind of development activity. What they don't realise is that times have changed, and, thanks to net connectivity, these people are today a lot more knowledgeable, perhaps than even the BBMP/ BDA engineers, who have not bothered to update themselves on the goings on. The quality of their critique accessible here, as also the studied alternate suggestions (prepared engaging a consultant) offered, are clearly indicative of that. As such, no longer are they going to be blindly accepting projects imposed on them without any genuine citizen consultation. The earlier that the powers that be realised that the better for all concerned.

As to the matter of costs, while the claim of the officials that "cost of a flyover is five times that of an underpass" is plainly an exaggeration, I wish to submit (and without without exaggeration) that, for the local residents, an underpass is ten times bigger a pain than a fly-over, more so during the project stage.

And as is clear from this example, as also many others (for example, this one) this Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), as existing, is unfortunately lending itself to total misuse by the officials. It is perhaps time it is re-constituted.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Comments by well regarded friends

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As to the matter of costs, while the claim of the officials that "cost of a flyover is five times that of an underpass" is plainly an exaggeration, I wish to submit (and without without exaggeration) that, for the local residents, an underpass is ten times bigger a pain than a fly-over, more so during the project stage.

After reading the above line in my post of the 6th, a friend, whose opinions are highly regarded in both Civil Siciety as well as governmental circles, commented that it would be more appropriate to say that "it would be 100 times more of a pain during construction stage and 1000 times more so on completion".

And, the following was the comment by another friend, on the "savekoramangala" yahoo-group, following the KITF team meet with the Commissioner:

We met him on the underpass issue and he assured us that he would not sign on the file. However at this meeting he also described himself several times as the BOSS of Bangalore! Unless this attitude subsides in public servants, they will not work for the good of the public. This is a classic example.

Need I comment more?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

disastrous underpasses

175 users have liked.

And, this is just one example. The city abounds with them.

Muralidhar Rao
Sanjeev's picture

Case study of Bangalore Road Widening

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Its Social Impact of the City Planning Machinery

A Case study of road widening in Bangalore done by Calcutta Based reasearch group. This was publised during Nov'2013


murali772's picture

happy ending - civil society to the fore

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Following is the mail (circulated in the "savekoramangala yahoo-group") by Mr Nitin Seshadri, who kind of spear-headed the campaign against the underpass, offering the fly-over solution instead, which has now been accepted by the government:

It is with a great sense of relief that I can inform all of you that we have been informed from sources at the hghest level in Government that our logical arguments have been accepted and the Bbmp will now execute an elevated flyover project on Hosur Road instead of the poorly planned underpass which was originally in store.

This is now Part 2 of the 3 part solution pushed by us during the Sarjapur Road agitation. Earlier this month the 100 ft road elevated road from Ejipura to Kendriya sadan had got Jnnurm clearance.

Among the many in Government who helped us special thanks to Mr Ramalinga Reddy and Mr Kaushik Mukherjee the Chief Secretary Govt of Karnataka who amidst their other busy schedules took the time and effort to ensure things were done right.

Thanks to everyone in the community who pitched in with support and ensured that the unanimous voice of the community was heard.

Best regards, NS

This marks another major victory for Civil Society activism in Koramangala (apart from the Maestrikere restoration fight, Sarjapur road signal-free corridor fiasco), as pointed out by some of the members, whose comments are reproduced below:

VM: and with every such step we get closer and closer to getting citizen participation truly institutionalised. not just the mockery of "citizen consultation" that we have now, but something like a public hearing for infrastructure projects, legislation, bills where it becomes necessary for it to be mandatory for government agencies to  record the citizen inputs and document openly reason why some suggestion were taken and why some not (currently nothing is taken!!)

RA: Excellent news. Congratulations to you and to all those who strived for this. It gives us lots of hope that we can all make a big difference if we join hands.

Muralidhar Rao
Sanjeev's picture

Encrochament of Ibalur Lake demolishing by BBMP

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Yest, saw  in TV the demolishing of encrouchments by few people of 17 Guntas..  Good efforts by BBMP.

Looks like this is small thing of just 17 Guntas recovering as compared to other lakes encrouhments.  Will BBMP act in the same way with others. 

Also citizens and so called builders,  on their own should  give their encrouchments of lakes and Govt lands if they feel what they have occupied is not correct. comment guidelines

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