Let the BDA not plan Bengaluru, say citizens

Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB) members Prakash Belawadi, Naresh Narasimhan, Srinivas Alavilli, Tara Krishnaswamy, Priya Chetty Rajagopal, Deepti Sudhindra along with Leo Saldanha (ESG) addressed the media on recent developments with respect to the steel flyover and master plan for Bengaluru. They put on record the following:

1. We are appalled by the recent statements by Hon’ble Minister K J George that ‘people who own private jets oppose the steel flyover’. The statement reflects disdain for the concern of citizens who love Bengaluru, more than 2.5 lakhs of whom have emphatically rejected the steel flyover plan – via the human chain protest, a beda ballot, missed calls to a designated mobile number and sustained articles and posts in print and social media. The minister’s attitude is flippant and callous.

2. It seems evident that a huge majority of our 1.2 crore citizens, who daily suffer the traffic congestion and air pollution, is convinced that the solution is neither this proposal steel flyover nor more senseless engineering projects that privilege cars and VIPs, but affordable and easily accessible mass transport. In any case, this proposed steel flyover to the airport will reduce travel time by just seven minutes. At a cost in excess of Rs 2,000 crore for just 6.7 km, and horrifying collateral damage – cutting down of 800+ trees, damage to heritage structures and destruction of a beautiful city corridor – this is an exercise that is irrational and anti-people, motivated by concerns other than the public good. Traffic congestion is an extremely serious public health issue for everyone, especially for our children, but also for traffic police men and women, and bus, cab and auto drivers.

3. We welcome the state government’s move to bring suburban train to Bengaluru and we appreciate the initiative of CM. We also welcome the news about plans to make alternative roads to the airport. Since the railway line is practically next to the airport trumpet, we call for a Trumpet Halt station (similar to Hoodi halt) and train services from all economic hubs of the city to the airport. #ChukuBukuBeku is the need of the hour and we will continue to put pressure on both Railways and GoK to make this happen as soon as possible.

The point is that the availability of train and alternative roads to the airport completely eliminates any argument for this hideous and expensive steel flyover. We demand that the government withdraw from all the cases in NGT and HC, immediately, instead of wasting public money fighting for a project that the public emphatically does not want.

4. From the beginning we have been asking for a comprehensive mobility plan that clearly and unequivocally promotes demotorization of our city and a modal shift that treats pedestrians, cyclists and public transport (suburban train, bus, metro) as top priority. #MovePeopleNotVehicles

5. The ongoing public debate on the Revised Master Plan 2031 is an excellent opportunity for the Government to address the burning issues in our city. It should pay heed to the widespread public anger over the processes that inform city planning and the opposition to RMP 2031.

The government should make a sincere attempt to design a sustainable, livable city going by the constitutionally mandated means envisaged under the 74th Amendment.

We reject the present RMP 2031 because it has bypassed the duly constituted Bengaluru Metropolitan Planning Committee and fixed a population projection in excess of two crores, which is completely against the logic on the ground.

What is the need? Where is the water, when the needs of hardly 60 percent of the present population are being met? Where is the land, when the so-called Green Belt has been so badly compromised and only 1.9 percent of parks and green spaces are preserved against the planned 10 percent?

Why can’t the government think of developing 10 other urban magnets in Karnataka instead of sucking out all its resources and putting it only in Bengaluru?

6. With the constitution of the BMPC, BDA should stop planning for the city and immediately hand it over to the new planning body.

We believe the BDA must not be entrusted with planning function at all and RMP must be developed by the BMPC with a bottom up approach that brings citizens – the least privileged, especially – civic groups and experts into the planning process right from the beginning and not at end as it is doing with RMP 2031.

The government should take serious note that in every public consultation held so far on the RMP 2031, citizens have expressed their disappointment with it and all the past master plans.

Note: This is a press note sent by CfB group, and published with minimal edits in the CfB blog.

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