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In addition to the road widening project, BBMP proposed building a four-lane flyover along Sankey Tank main road at a cost of Rs 60 crore.
It has been a week of protests for the residents of Malleshwaram and surrounding areas, who are against the proposed flyover and road widening near Sankey road. The residents, including children, have hugged trees that are slated to be cut down, staged protests at the site and written letters to the Chief Minister. Residents of Vyalikaval, Sadashivanagar and Malleshwaram protested on January 15 against cutting down 40 heritage trees for these projects. On January 20, over 2,000 schoolchildren wrote letters to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai requesting him to stop the construction of the Sankey flyover.
The scenes were reminiscent of the protests in 2011 when Malleshwaram residents were up in arms about cutting 19 trees to widen the stretch of road from Sankey Tank and Bhashyam circle. Residents even resorted to climbing the trees and staying there for more than 24 hours after BBMP resorted to cutting 17 trees on the sly. In the continuing struggle to save trees from being cut on the verdant stretch, the residents also contend with a flyover, another unwanted addition to the proposed plan to ease traffic.
Why residents are up in arms about the projects
Residents living close to Sankey Tank have said they were not consulted about the project before Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) floated tenders. “We came to know of the flyover project when it was announced in the press a few months ago. But we got alarmed when we saw the trees being marked for cutting a couple of months ago and then we saw markings on the pavement. We realised that time was running out, and the tender was floated in undue haste,” says Dr Rajan Balasubramaniam, a resident of the area and the Head of Radiology Department at Dr BR Ambedkar Medical College.
They are also concerned that building a flyover will simply push the congestion to the next bottleneck and not ease it. The Cauvery junction underpass is already a major bottleneck and crossing it takes several minutes, residents say. “The underpass is an unmitigated urban planning disaster. The flyover will not achieve its objective. BBMP should instead focus on Cauvery junction and allow a right turn from Bellary road towards Sankey road,” Rajan further says.
“BBMP has enough examples of why a flyover has not worked, be it in terms of structural or design flaws. The unscientific use of flyovers has only aided in creating more bottlenecks in the city than solving traffic congestions,” says Preeti Sundarajan, who has been living in the area for more than 40 years and is a member of the residents’ group, Citizens for Sankey.
The initiative to expand the Sankey Tank road was recently renewed by the BBMP. To ease traffic in the region, it also suggested building a flyover along Sankey road in Malleshwaram. The long-delayed Sankey Tank bund road widening project began accepting bids in December 2022, and the closing date has passed, according to the BBMP. The road will be extended by 15 metres between Bhashyam circle and Malleshwaram 18th cross. The flyover, which will be 560 metres long and have four lanes, will be located between T Chowdaiah road and 18th cross. It was initially suggested in 2011 but ran into legal difficulties when environmental activists filed a case, and the project's funding ran out.
The Karnataka High Court had authorised the BBMP to proceed with the project in 2011 stating, "It is a project where trees are cut for widening the road for the public good.” But the court ordered the BBMP to follow the steps outlined in the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act when cutting down trees along the stretch.
Several heritage trees have been marked to be cut down and the construction of the projects is expected to negatively impact the health of the tank, which has seen continuous construction around it. Residents are concerned about the environmental implications that the project will bring. They have also said that the concretisation of the lake has massively reduced the water-holding capacity of the tank.
“The detailed project report (DPR) says that only 39 trees will be axed, but that’s not true. They have marked more than 50 heritage trees. This area is known for Sankey Tank and the beautiful trees. Malleshwaram is losing its heritage value and if these are taken away, then what will make it different from any other part of the city,” Preeti adds.
A report made by Citizens of Sankey also highlights how these projects violate the Comprehensive Bangalore Mobility Plan and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act. It says that the projects fall within 75 metres of the lake and are hence illegal, according to NGT. The Sankey road became a sensitive spot last year when it caved thrice in four weeks in 2022. BBMP officials blamed it on a Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) pipeline that had loosened the soil, causing a sinkhole.
As the movement to stop the road widening and flyover project on Sankey road continue, residents in Vyalikaval, Sadashivanagar, and Malleshwaram wrote to BBMP Chief Commissioner, Tushar Giri Nath, asking him to halt the project, make the Detailed Project Report (DPR) public, and host a public meeting before moving further with it. Along with the NGO Jhatkaa, the locals have also created an online petition against the projects, which now has 21,164 signatures.
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Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a Syndicated Feed and has not been created or edited By Azad Times Staff.