Oppn, NGOs call it a ‘steal bridge’ as govt is pushing the project with an eye on polls

Bengaluru : The Congress-led Siddaramaiah Government in Karnataka is caught in a mess over a massive Rs. 2,000 crore steel flyover that is supposed to ease travel time to the airport for the rich and mighty in the state capital.

While the government calls it a steel bridge, NGOs, citizens and the Opposition call it a steal bridge, implying that it is being rushed through to fund the Congress party’s elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Despite stiff opposition, the government is adamant to push the steel flyover through. The government has not revealed cost breakdown of the flyover and has kept the whole project a big secret. The government has not even revealed from where it plans to raise funds to build the disastrous flyover.

Apart from the big secrecy surrounding the project, what is known is that over 800 trees in the heart of Bengaluru would have to be chopped – a move that has upset Bangaloreans who take pride in saying that their place is a garden city.

On Tuesday, in order to build a bridge with the opposition, the government held an all-party meet which ended in a big disaster. The BJP and the JD(S) opposed the bridge plan tooth and nail. The BJP openly told the government that the steel bridge is a loot bridge. With Rs. 2,000 crore, one could as well build a gold-plated bridge, if not one in gold itself, the opposition sarcastically pointed out.

Experts say the steel bridge is more costly per metre than Metro rail service. So why not build a Metro to the airport, they wonder. They also stated that the bridge would only benefit VIPs headed to the airport, not the common man. Moreover, the bridge would only shift the traffic bottleneck from one junction to another and not solve in easing the traffic density.

Recently, 42,000 citizens, mostly from north Bengaluru, lent support to the ”bridge beda” (beda in Kannada means No) campaign by vetoing the proposed steel flyover, making a strong argument against letting the government “plunge a steel dagger in the heart of the city”.

Pointing out the drawbacks of an obsession with building big structures to show development, historian Ramachandra Guha said: “This problem has been around from the time of Jawaharlal Nehru. But he was self-critical and had said such an outlook will not lead India to a good place. At that time, the disease of gigantism could be attributed to folly, but today it must be attributed to fraud. Larger the project, larger the cuts.”

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