The much-awaited three-kilometre-long Ejipura elevated corridor project in Bengaluru, which would now cost close to Rs 307.96 crore, may finally see the light of day, at least according to government officials. The project saw a cost escalation of over Rs 104 crore due to inordinate delays in construction.

The work on this incomplete Link Road, which is to be used only by private vehicles, passes through one of Bengaluru’s premium localities of Koramangala into the Inner Ring Road, entering into Indiranagar, considered the IT city’s High Street.

The work, which began mid-March, is expected to be completed in 15 months, said a senior official in charge of infrastructure projects in the city.

“We have given the company which the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike had entered an agreement with to start work immediately and deliver the project or face immediate cancellation of the contract,” said the senior government official from the urban development department, Karnataka.

Originally meant to ease traffic congestion from Madiwala to Ejipura and bridge the two points enhancing connectivity, the project now seems only to be a half-done reality, causing more inconvenience due to the debris and construction material that has piled up over the years.

The Ejipura flyover has been jinxed, many feel, as the work on the project begins and then, due to some hurdle, it comes to a standstill, leaving commuters on the route in the lurch.

Flyover vs Metro

Civic evangelist Ravi Chandar points out, yet again, that the fundamental flaw was in the decision-making itself. He said it should have been the Metro train service going through that area and not a flyover.

“My opinion even today would be to give up on this project and see how we could connect the Silk Board flyover and other Metro to be connected. That is a better solution for that area and one that would be of use for posterity,” he explained.

He added that the original sin in this case is that when people including resident associations who pushed for the flyover project and the government should have thought of bringing Koramangala under the Metro network, they decided to go down the flyover solution.

“Imagine the Metro from Silk Board and a train line that goes through Koramangala underground and passes through the Inner Ring Road and comes out at Indiranagar as an interchange; the effect of that would have been huge. It’s almost like poetic justice that a wrong choice of a flyover to ease the traffic issue there has got inordinately delayed,” Ravi Chandar told News18.

The president of Bengaluru-based Citizens Action Forum, Vijayan Menon, believes that even if a Metro line cuts across the area, it will not significantly reduce traffic congestion as the density of cars on the roads will continue to rise.

“All we can say is that the Ejipura Flyover project is on track for the 17th time. The project is expected to take a year and a half. However, it is important to point out that this flyover will reduce time taken between two key places,” Menon said.

He added that the CAF has also been putting up a fight for the completion of this project as well as another one linking Ejipura to Sarjapur road, which is in the final stages of planning.

He also explained why there has been a holdup even after the tenders were given out. “The citizens had pushed for a formal third-party check on the integrity of the structure as it had been lying unused for a long time. A study was done and clearances were given and now the work has started,” the CAF president said.

The BBMP has not been releasing any money to contractors and that has caused severe delays on infrastructure projects across the city, added Revathy Ashok, managing trustee and CEO of Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC).

“Nobody wants the flyover anymore, it seems. We must move people from thinking of using personal vehicles to using public transport. What hurts more is that there is zero plan to connect this stretch to the Metro lines, be it from Silk Board side or Indiranagar,” Ashok said.

She added that even the smooth flow of buses or vehicles is hampered due to the construction debris dumped around.

“Why can’t the contractors be told that they should complete the work and not dump any more debris, which adds to the traffic congestion as people are restricted to using a small passage of road? This place needs urgent attention,” Ashok said.

Let’s look at the developments one by one to understand the delays, hurdles, and targets.

The Ejipura flyover had first been commissioned in 2014 and has since faced several hurdles and inordinate delays.

What is the flyover expected to do?

The road connecting Madiwala, Koramangala, Ejipura, and finally linking the Inner Ring Road which leads into Indiranagar in Bengaluru is expected to bring down the travel time to just 20 minutes on this road with high traffic density.

Severe traffic congestion causes inordinate delays, so much so that people spend close to an hour to cover a 6-km stretch of which the flyover is a part. This flyover was expected to help avoid jam-packed traffic junctions like Srinivagilu-Ejipura, Sony World Junction, Koramangala BDA Complex Junction, Madiwala-Sarjapur Water Tank Junction, Kendriya Sadan Junction, and later connect southeast Bengaluru to the western and eastern parts of the city.

The project officially commenced construction in 2017 and, at that time, the Congress was in power in alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular). Simplex Infrastructure Limited was awarded the contract and it managed to complete just 30 per cent of the work when the Congress-JD(S) coalition government collapsed two years later in 2019. This caused the work to slow down, and in 2021 Simplex abandoned the project.

Owing to public pressure and the need to ease traffic, a public interest litigation was filed in the Karnataka high court in 2021, instructing the BBMP to float a fresh tender. The body did so in August 2022, but the tender was recalled citing technical issues. Once again in January 2023, the BBMP floated another tender, which this time passed and got the necessary technical approval.

Several tenders were called later by the city civic body BBMP after Simplex withdrew. A lone bidder, BSCPL Infrastructure Limited, quoted Rs 204 crore to complete the project. This was around 50 per cent more than BBMP’s estimation for the completion of the work and so the party did not get approval on financial grounds.

Hyderabad-based contractor B Seenaiah & Company (Projects) Limited (BSCPL) finally won the tender for the remaining work and it is said that now the BBMP will require close to Rs 142 crore to bring the project to complete fruition.

Simplex Infrastructure, the first company that decided to leave the project due to non-payment of dues, asked the BBMP to pay an outstanding amount of Rs 15 crore.

Karnataka minister Ramalinga Reddy, who is also the MLA representing the BTM Layout assembly seat, in which this project falls, is optimistic that the flyover will be completed at the earliest. He said that now that the Congress government is back in power and this was its dream project, it will be expedited.

“The project faced delays as in the previous BJP government, they did not show interest in completing the work and instead decided to divert funds for such infrastructure work to constituencies which were ruled by BJP MLAs,” Reddy said.

In November 2023, the project ran into another hurdle as eight trees were to be uprooted to make way for the flyover, but residents and environmentalists raised severe objections. Once again this brought the project to a halt.

The proposal was to remove 67 trees to make way for the structure and the BBMP removed nine trees on December 1, 2023. Following protests from environmentalists, a special order was issued by the deputy conservator of forest (DCF), BBMP, bringing the work to a grinding halt. Namma Bengaluru Foundation was one of the main groups claiming that the 50-plus-year-old trees need not be felled as they were part of sidewalks and were not obstructing construction.

The DCF added that since some of the city-based environment associations had taken the legal route, the BBMP would have to wait until a direction from the court was issued to resume work.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *