Proposal to build 11 flyovers in Bengaluru violates Constitution: Experts
Civic activists and urban experts said that the flyovers are disastrous both in the context of good governance as well as urban planning
The Karnataka government’s approval for the construction of 11 more flyovers in Bengaluru is not as per the Constitution, and the infrastructure woes in the city are the result of crises in the institutional framework of urban planning, mobility experts said on Thursday.
Civic activists and urban experts said that the flyovers are disastrous both in the context of good governance as well as urban planning.
According to the 74th amendment of the Constitution, all city planning activities should be done by the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC), which will integrate the plans prepared by local bodies within the metropolitan area. However, instead of the MPC, experts said that the state government-controlled development authorities undertake the task of urban planning.
Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai recently announced that the state government approved the construction of 11 more flyovers in Bengaluru, to decongest the traffic.
“It is for the first time in the history of Bengaluru that 11 flyovers s have been sanctioned in one year. These changes would provide long-lasting solutions to the citizens,” Bommai said last week.
Civic activist and convenor of Citizens’ Agenda for Bengaluru, Sandeep Anirudhan, said that according to the planning framework, the MPC is the planning authority.
“It has to form the masterplan, and the transport/mobility plan, as part of it, in consultation with the Unified Transport Authority, which is now the Bengaluru Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA). Projects included in the masterplan with due process, public consultation, environment impact assessment and social impact assessment, are the only ones that could be executed,” Anirudhan said.
“These ad hoc introductions are a calamity. It is far more shocking to see how politicians, bureaucrats and engineers of the BBMP reveal total ignorance of the law, mouth blatant lies and excuses to carry out their ill-conceived and malafide pursuits,” he said.
“So, both in a good governance context, as well as in a planning context, this decision is disastrous. The government needs to be called out for such spurious decisions. The politicians and officials behind these need to be exposed. Individuals who have no knowledge of our Constitution or do not comply with laws should never be voted into power or employed by the government,” Aniruhan added.
According to the 74th amendment, MPCs are responsible for the development plan for metropolitan cities with a population of over 1 million, with at least two-thirds of its members to be elected local representatives.
Another mobility expert said the proposal shows the lack of knowledge of the state government and that the BMLTA, which seeks to bring about better integration and management of the city’s urban mobility, is a better organisation to deal with this.
“I feel like the government lacks knowledge. They are making mistakes again, It is sad to see this. The BMLTA is a better organisation to deal with this and understand this. They know what transport policy is and why should someone else do it. Any improvement in the city should go through the books of BMLTA,” he said.
Kathyayini Chamaraj, activist and executive trustee of CIVIC, questioned why the proposed 11 flyovers are not part of the comprehensive mobility plan the BMLTA is supposed to have developed. The BMLTA was notified after receiving assent from Karnataka governor Thaawarchand Gehlot on January 11.
“Are these flyovers part of the plan? Why are they doing ad hoc flyovers of their own? If the BMLTA is set up, they have to take up these decisions. They are only making ad hoc plans which have no scientific basis without any survey. Also, what is the cost-benefit analysis?” Chamaraj questioned.
Meanwhile, Vijayan Menon, president of Citizens’ Action Forum, said, “The BMLTA was doomed to fail. We fundamentally understand and believe that the city government is the municipality. Everything else that we have tried has failed. We have BMLTA and other verticals which have all failed. These 11 flyovers were very much expected and this is what the BMLTA was set up to do, to bypass every democratic method of working.”
“According to the 74th Amendment, there is something called the MPC. The point here is that who is superior? The MPC or the BMLTA? We have a so-called expert organisation called the BMLTA, but it has to report to the municipality. It is the municipality and the MPC who have to drive through elected representatives and people’s will and the requirements and then come in a technocratic organisation which evaluates and tries to do justice to a proposal. It should not be the other way round,” Menon added.
Slamming the announcement, the experts stressed that all transport policies point out that flyovers are not the solution and one can’t keep increasing the road space to address congestion. Public transport is an option to address this so that one can move people away from cars, they added.
Can we get quotes or reactions from government officials?