October 31, 2009 @ 12:34 pm
One of the evident side-effects of the Metro construction in Bangalore has been the incessant cutting of trees across all major areas of the city.
If you now take a look at Seshadri Road, Nanda Road and roads around Malleswaram, you will see how a once-lush-green canopy has given way to a bare concrete view. Is there really a need to take away a portion of Cubbon Park? Was there a necessity to chop trees in Lalbagh (which even today stands as one of Bangalore’s integral identity)? The planning and development of the Metro has taken quite a few people by surprise. There has not been enough information shared in the public domain by the concerned authorities. The benefits of the Metro were never really listed out in comparison to other cheaper modes of transport (bus services being one of them).
What has happened so far is that the Metro juggernaut has rolled on, sucking in millions of rupees on its way and destroying the very fabric of Bangalore that had made it a preferred destination for many in the recent past. Democracy, in its definition, somewhere does include the phrase public participation. And voting is just one part of this public participation. The other and more significant part is to ensure that our public servants are questioned on their policies and to have a say in everything that affects us.
Today there was yet another protest against the haphazard construction and destruction taking place in Bangalore in the garb of urban transport management. We gathered at the BMRCL office (on K H Road) and protested with placards and slogans. Leaflets in Kannada and English were distributed to passers by, highlighting the glaring lapses in the Metro execution.
The group Hasiru Usiru has filed various RTIs (Right to Information) and the information obtained is quite far away from what the initial plans of the Metro were. For instance, the Phase 1 initial cost was Rs. 5800 crores and the present Phase 1 cost estimate is Rs. 11500 crores! Add to that the fact that the Phase 1 project is only 25% done and you get a scale of things to come. While the initial plan stated that around 400 trees would be cut, the actual number of trees are more than 1200 – a number that is only going to increase.
While I do not possess the acumen to judge whether the Metro will be beneficial in the long run or not, what I do know is that a lot of this destruction could be saved or at least handled in a better manner. If you are interested in meeting the group and taking part in the protest, please attend the next meeting at Tagore Circle on 4th November at 5:00 pm.
You can find resources and information regarding the Metro at the Hasiru Usiru website.