The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is one step away from cutting down about 112 trees on Jayamahal Main Road in Bengaluru to make way for the construction of the controversial steel flyover, which is meant to ease traffic congestion in the city, Bangalore Mirror reported.
The proposal to build the 6.7 km-long flyover, between Basaveshwara Circle and Hebbal, was greeted with public outrage in October last year. About 8,000 people took to the the streets to form a human chain in a bid to signal their dissent. Protestors included theatre activist Arundhati Nag, historian and environmentalist Ramachandra Guha, former Lokayukta Santosh Hegde and opposition politician Rajeev Chandrasekhar. The outrage trended on social media as well with the hastag #SteelFlyoverBeda — beda in Kannada meaning "no".
The project, which is expected to cost ₹1,800 crores, will involve felling about 812 trees, diminishing the rapidly-shrinking green cover of the city substantially. As compensation, the government has offered to plant 6,000 saplings, but activists are still worried about the long-term environmental damage of such a massive construction.
In its latest missive, BBMP has asked the "public, public institutions and people's representatives", who do not support the "removal of the 112 trees" on Jayamahal Main Road, to send in their objections "along with valid reason and supporting documents either through e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or through phone (9480685381) within a period of 10 days".
Once it's up, the flyover is expected to reduce the commute to the airport, though detractors say it would be made shorter only by about 10 minutes. Being a structure made of steel, it promises to not cover the areas it would run through with dust, though the disruptions it would cause to many people across the city is more than apparent.
The running conflict between a section of the public and the state, however, goes deeper, beyond any simple logic of protecting the environment. The disagreements pertain to questions of transparency and accountability within the government as well as the democratic rights of the primary stakeholder in such a project — the people — who feel deprived of having a say in a matter that is likely to have a major and irreversible effect on their civic lives.
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