Multiple mega-projects meant for Bengaluru yet to take off

Traffic issues in Bengaluru have been unbearable. There are multiple projects announced by the government, that are either in cold storage or moving at a snail's pace. Here's a list and status of such projects.

When the Karnataka government announced a flyover on Bellary road recently, citizens protested over the secrecy shrouded around the project. Their main contention was against the Bangalore Development Authority for silently moving the project without much details in public domain.

The fact is that the State government had announced the project in its budget 2014-15, and kept pursuing it without transparency. In fact there are many grand infrastructure projects that successive governments have announced in the State budgets over the years, for which little information exists in public domain. Blame it on bureaucratic and political apathy, or on technical glitches such as land acquisition, lack of clarity on Transferable Development Rights policy, most of these mega dream projects are either shelved or scrapped or yet to finish.

Here is the list of major road and transport infrastructure projects that were announced for Bengaluru over the last eight years, but did not take off yet.

Peripheral Ring Road project

Implementing Agency: BDA

About the project: The Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) project plan was mooted when S M Krishna was the Chief Minister of Karnataka, to help commuters skip travelling in the city centre. Five years after the plan was announced, the State government in its 2008 budget announced the PRR project, and said it will be done through a public private partnership.

The length of the PRR was supposed to be 116 km, and it will touch Sarjapura, Attibele, Anekal, Hoskote, Sulibele, Doddaballapur and Nelamangala. The plan was to construct the road with a width of 100 metres, a tolled stretch with a dedicated bus lane. Bangalore Development Authority was made the nodal agency to implement the project.

The project found a mention again in 2013-14 budget. The government said it will construct peripheral ring road under Public Private Partnership model on the Bengaluru North and East area at a cost of Rs. 2500 crore.

Status: Even after eight years of the project getting government nod, Peripheral Ring Road has failed to see light of the day. Though the initial project estimation was Rs 3,000 crore, it has now been revised to Rs 11,950 crore, of which Rs 3,850 crore is for road infrastructure and Rs 8,100 crore for land acquisition. The BDA is ready with Detailed Project Report and Social Impact Survey for land acquisition, but the delay has been due to issues with land acquisition. The government has not been able to arrive at a consensus with the farmers rejecting the compensation package. The case is being dragged in National Green Tribunal and supreme court.

High speed rail link (HSRL) to Bengaluru city from Kempegowda International Airport

Implementing Agency: BMRCL

About the project: The project that was proposed in 2008, to ease and speed up the travel time between Minsk Square and Kempegowda International Airport, is still in discussion stage. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (DMRCL) had given a Detailed Project Report to the Karnataka government in 2009. The project was kept in cold storage due to high cost involved.

Status: The Managing Director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL), the authority to implement the project, has recently said that the project hasn’t been shelved and is still in discussion stages. Another official from BMRCL had said that there were chances of integrating HSRL with Namma Metro Phase – 2 project from Gottigere to Nagawara.

Commuter rail for Bengaluru city

Implementing Agency: Railways, DULT and UDD, Bangalore Sub-Urban Rail Corporation

About the project: Though the State Government did not specify about the exact project plan, in the 2010-11 budget, it assured of providing 50 per cent of the required capital to start local trains in Bangalore City. The Central Government will be requested to give approval to this scheme expeditiously, the Chief Minister had said.

The government in its budget for 2011-12, spoke of commuter rail once again. The Chief Minister had once again stated, “Comprehensive Traffic and Transportation Plan for Bengaluru has identified the need to take up commuter rail system within the city. The government has sought permission of the Ministry of Railways for undertaking commuter railway service from Bangalore to Devanahalli, Anekal, Malur, Ramanagara and Nelamangala and beyond, so that persons living on the outskirts of Bengaluru would be able to access the Central Business District of Bengaluru within a short time. The State would provide its contribution.”

A feasibility study was made to understand suburban rail system connecting Bangalore to Tumkuru, Ramanagara and Mandya. The project was expected to cost Rs 8,759 crore. The government in its budget two years ago had announced that a Detailed Project Report for phase-1 will be prepared. It had also announced of setting up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) i.e, Bangalore Sub-Urban Rail Corporation to implement the project.

Status: Despite huge public demand and several assurances in the past, commuter rail continues to be a distant dream for Bengalureans. The project which needs the Central government’s financial support, has not got more than one-line mention in the Union Railway Budget. In the 2016-17 railway budget, the Union Railway Minister said – “Bengaluru, the technology hub of the country, warrants a comprehensive suburban system. We will partner with State Government in this endeavour.”

This year, just before the Union Railway budget, the State government made a move and requested the Central government to take up first phase of the project which would cost Rs 1,000 crore. However, the Central government did not grant the funds so far, though it made a promise of doing so. A Special Purpose Vehicle too has not been formed.

However, the State government in 2016-17 budget has earmarked an initial fund of Rs 100 crore for the project. Work is ongoing, with the government deciding to take up the stretch from Whitefield to Baiyappanahalli in the first stage, and a couple of meetings were convened with Praja group.

Light Rail Transport System in Bengaluru

Implementing agency: Bangalore Airport Rail Link Ltd (BARL)

About the project: The ambitious Light Rail Transport System (LRTS) was proposed in 2011-12 budget was supposed to have two corridors: JP Nagar to Hebbal on the outer ring road (31.3 kms) and Toll gate to peripheral ring road on Magadi road (10.6 km). The project idea was first conceived in 2007 as part of the Comprehensive Traffic and Transportation Plan for the city.

Status: Though the project was in cold storage for about six years after getting a mention in the budget, it got a boost during Invest Karnataka – 2016 in last February. The project plan was presented to attract the investors. On September 1st, the State Cabinet approved ‘innovative funding’ to execute the project. At present, according to news reports, UDD officials are waiting for modalities from BARL which is the authority for executing the project.

Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS)

Implementing Agency: Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT)

About the project: Starting with a comprehensive report in 2007, several proposals were made to implement Bus Rapid Transport System in Bengaluru. In 2011-12 budget, the State government announced of introducing BRTS project from Hebbal to Central Silk Board at a total cost of Rs 550 crore. The government even announced of providing Rs 25 crore to initiate the project. The project aimed at easing bus transportation on 33 km stretch.

Status: DULT had prepared a detailed project report on BRTS and had submitted it to the government. However, in September 2016, the State government decided to go ahead with the plan of laying metro connectivity on Outer Ring Road, thus killing the BRTS project plan.

Five signal-free corridors

Implementing Agency: BBMP

About the project: The State government had proposed in the budget 2012-13 budget, to construct signal-free corridors on arterial roads to ease traffic congestion. The total length of the corridor is 51.5 km and the estimated cost was Rs 426 crore. The plan was to develop signal-free corridors from Central Silk Board Junction to Vellara Junction, one on Airport Road, Nayandahalli Junction to Bannerghatta road, Government Soap Factory Junction to Magadi Road deviation and Vellara Junction to Hope Farm Junction.  

Status: According to a BBMP official, of the five proposed corridors, work on four corridors by constructing underpasses and overbridges is in progress, while Silk Board Junction to Vellara Junction project has been stalled. Though the work has started for four corridors in some parts, the project is getting delayed due to land acquisition issues. The BBMP was hoping that a new TDR policy will be passed in the recent Legislative Session which would have solved the acquisition issues. However, with the new TDR policy not having been tabled in the Legislature, the tussle is expected to continue.

As far as making Hosur Road signal-free is concerned, the official says the initial plan was to do integrated underpass at Forum Mall junction, Madivala junction and St John’s junction. But due to opposition from people, they have taken up the task of revising the DPR.

Elevated golden quadrangle road

Implementing Agency: BDA

About the project: In 2013-14 budget, the government announced a 25 km long elevated golden quadrangle road at Hebbal-BRV ground, Hennur-BRV Ground, Central Silk Board – Lalbagh Chickpet upto Mysore Road Flyover (Sirsi Circle), BRV ground to upto Mysore Road Flyover (Sirsi Circle). The project was expected to reduce traffic snarls in the city. According to an estimate prepared by the Infrastructure Department, the estimated cost of the project under PPP model was Rs 5,800 crore.

Status: In March 2013, the BDA officials had said that they had changed the plan of taking up this project under PPP model as they thought collecting toll on roads within the city limits is not viable option. The other option was to look for funds from the State government and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). However, with the Central government scrapping JNNURM, the project plan has not moved further.

Flyover from Jayadeva Hospital Junction to Central Silk Board

Implementing Agency: BMRCL

About the project: In 2013-14 budget, the government announced of constructing elevated road from Jayadeva Hospital junction to Central Silk Board in integration with the proposed 2nd Phase Metro alignment (R V Road-Bommasandra line), at an estimated cost of Rs 150 crore. The preliminary research and other procedures were underway.

Status: The initial plan was that the BBMP will take up the project simultaneously along with BMRCL working on metro lane. But now the plans have changed. A BBMP official from Major Roads division said it was found that the grade separator planned by BBMP was not going well with the metro plan. Hence, it has been decided to demolish the existing Jayadeva flyover for laying metro lane and BMRCL will build grade separator after the completion of metro work.

Elevated road from Ejipura Junction to Sarjapura road via Sony World Junction in Koramangala

Implementing Agency: BBMP

About the project: This was announced in 2013-14 budget. A Detailed Project Report was prepared and it estimated the project cost at Rs 214 crore. According to the initial plan, the BBMP was to bear 50 per cent of the total cost of the project and to get 35 per cent of the funds from the Centre and 15 per cent from the State. Announcement of the project had brought cheer to residents of Koramangala as it would relieve them from the pain of crossing Sony Signal junction.

Status: The Central government which had agreed to sanction funds for the project under JNNURM, withdrew the grant in January 2015. This was because the new government in the Centre decided to change name of the scheme and its guidelines. All the projects cleared after March 2014 were withdrawn. An officer from the BBMP said that, it was then decided to fund this project under Chief Minister’s Nagarathona scheme. Tender was submitted to the government long back and the government is yet to approve it.

North-South, East-West elevated corridors

Implementing Agency: KRDCL

About the project: This ambitious project spanning the length and breadth of the city, found mention in the 2016-17 budget. It envisages a North-South elevated corridor running from Hebbal to Silk Board Junction. K R Puram – Goraguntepalya and Jnanabharathi to Varthur form two segments of East-West corridor.

Status: Detailed Feasibility Report is underway for the elevated corridor project by Karnataka Road Development Corporation Ltd (KRDCL). Once the DFR is ready, the government will decide how to go about the project. The project is expected to be taken up under PPP model. There have been many debates about the feasibility of this project, and issues.

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