HIGHLIGHTS - Citizens point to ‘undemocratic decisions’, ‘lack of public consultation’ on suburban rail project, delay of critical line linking city and airport - Plan was to lay City-Devanahalli line by 2023
Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Limited (K-RIDE), tasked with the completion of the KSR Bengaluru City-Devanahalli corridor under the Bengaluru Suburban Rail project by 2023, is unlikely to meet the deadline. In October 2020, the Union government cleared the much-delayed Bengaluru Suburban Rail project with four corridors at a sanction cost of Rs. 15,767 crore. The Centre had asked the government of Karnataka to expedite completion of one of the corridors — KSR Bengaluru City-Devanahalli, within three years — while giving six years time for the completion of the other three corridors. However, none of the corridors, including the expedited one, have seen the light of day yet. Moreover, a decision has been taken to work on all four corridors simultaneously, without any priority. According to a senior K-RIDE official, the KSR Bengaluru City-Devanahalli corridor faced land acquisition issues, which might delay the project further. “This corridor ran into some complexity due to land acquisition as it is planned in a very busy area. There might be a slight spillover of a year over the designated three years’ time frame. However, we are committed to complete the entire project in six years. ”According to K-RIDE, the question of giving priority to one corridor over another doesn’t arise. Officials said all the four corridors will be taken up simultaneously and will be completed within the stipulated time frame of six years. “We have a total time of six years to complete all the four corridors. Initial work has started and is going on at a fast pace. This is a project of extreme complexity. We will be executing all our work alongside operational railway lines. It is an extremely complicated project where we need multiple approvals, including that of the Ministry of Railways. However, a lot of groundwork is happening at a very hectic pace, which includes planning, alignment finalization, station building planning, intermodal integration, funding and suchlike. We have invited civil work tenders which are opening in the first week of February 2022; we are planning to finalize it by the end of that month. The work on the ground should begin in March,” an official told BM. According to the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), the government has given priority to Byappanahalli-Chikkabanavara and Heelalige-Rajankunte corridors and these will be completed first. "Corridor ran into complexity due to land acquisition as it is planned in a busy area. There might be a slight spillover of a year over the designated three years’ time frame..." – K-RIDE. “The government has given priority to Byappanahalli-Chikkabanavara and Heelalige-Rajankunte corridors. Work will be taken up on these first. The entire project has a fixed timeline and all the preparatory work is going on for all the four corridors,” a DULT official said. Many concerned citizens and civic activists are irked at the authorities for the ‘hush-hush and undemocratic manner’ in which the decisions have been taken. They complained that once again no public consultation was done. “Both the projects, Metro to the airport and the suburban train corridor to the airport from KR City Railway station, were sanctioned around the same time. While the work at the Metro’s site is ongoing, the suburban rail project is yet to take off. To top it, they have decided not to prioritize the KSR Bengaluru City-Devanahalli corridor without any stakeholder consultation,” said an agitated resident of Yelahanka New Town. According to Rajkumar Dugar, founder and convener, Citizens for Citizens, KSR Bengaluru City-Devanahalli corridor could have eased a lot of city traffic. “Currently, the entire traffic to the airport, people or cargo, is road-centric. Every day, hundreds of commuters from across the city and the surrounding areas go to the airport via road, leading to traffic congestion. The two practical options are – metro and suburban trains. When it comes to the metro, while the construction work has always been behind the schedule, the tracks are anyway not passing through the city center, whereas the suburban rail track is through the city and could have eased the traffic by a big margin,” according to Dugar. - By Garima Prasher
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