Human chain protest against steel flyover in Bengaluru

About 3,000 Bengalureans on Sunday formed a 4-km-long human chain to protest against the proposed 6.7-km steel flyover for a signal-free ride to the international airport at Devanahalli on the city’s northern outskirts.

Holding placards, banners and billboards against the flyover, members of residential welfare associations, social activists and NGO representatives stood along the footpath from Chalukya hotel in the city centre to Mekhri circle in the north side and urged the Karnataka government to scrap the Rs 1,750-crore project.

“We are all for better connectivity to the airport but not at the cost of about 800 trees as hundreds of trees have already been lost for various infrastructure projects, including the metro rail service and other roads,” said urban conservationist Vijay Nishanth on the occasion.

Unfazed by the protests and ignoring urban experts, the state government has recently awarded the project to L&T Ltd to build the steel flyover from Chalukya circle to Hebbal circle, which connects the airport road and the busy National Highway number 7 towards Hyderabad.

Though the country’s third busiest airport is located about 40 km from the city, the stretch of the main road where the flyover has been planned is bedevilled with heavy vehicular traffic as it connects the city’s south, east and west suburbs.

“The government should explore alternate routes to divert and regulate the traffic to the airport and the highway than allowing a monstrous steel structure that will not only rob the greenery, but also does not ease the gridlock, which will only shift to both sides of the flyover, as vehicles pile up in the absence of service roads,” noted urban expert and architect N. Narasimhan.

The denizens of this 10-million tech hub are so agitated over the steel project that a ‘Citizens Against Steel Flyover’ campaign has been launched to prevent the state-run Bangalore Development Authority from constructing the steely structure.

“The failure of the authorities in ensuring basic infrastructure in line with the city’s explosive growth due to influx of people from across the state and country have turned the garden city into an urban chaos, with half the green cover vanishing, lake beds encroached and air quality spoilt,” lamented Sujathia Kulkarni, a homemaker.

A British national (T. Allen) who works with an NGO in the city, said the government should learn from London where vehicular traffic movement does not rely on only flyovers and one-ways and no-ways as in Bengaluru.

“The government has to decongest the city, build alternative roads, encourage public transport and provide a metro rail link to the airport than build a steel flyover,” reiterated Siddharth Nayak, a bank manager.

Social media has been abuzz against the project through hashtag #steelfyoverbeda.

Wearing T-shirts and donning caps with “beda” (no in Kannada) hundreds of youth, including boys and girls also ran a marathon on the thoroughfare where the flyover has been planned without consulting citizens and urban experts.

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