2 Jan 2017

Bengaluru’s wish list for 2017

Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. is planning to make the entire 42.3-km network operational by April. 

With an estimated population of 1.03 crore, Bengaluru is no longer the small town it once was. But for the city to meet its potential and grow without destroying its green lungs and lakes, it needs ecologically friendly projects. From mass public transport systems to infrastructure and lake rejuvenation, a look at some of the key projects that are on the city’s wish list for 2017
Namma Metro Phase I operational by April

This year promises to be a major one for Namma Metro, perhaps its biggest year yet as Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) is planning to make the entire 42.3-km network operational by April. However, given the many delays, urban experts are doubtful over whether the corporation will meet the deadline. Officials say that as tunnelling has been completed, commuters should be able to use the north-south line by April.

Once this is accomplished, the BMRCL hopes that the ridership will increase to around 5 lakh a day by the year-end.

Also on the wish list for commuters is the extension of metro timings. Currently, services terminate at 10 p.m. on the Purple Line and 11 p.m on the Green Line.

“There are so many people working on M.G. Road who leave their offices around 10 p.m. It would be a great way to travel if they could just hop on to the metro and reach their homes. While traffic is light and driving might not be an issue, using public transport is always preferable,” said Nachiket M.R. who lives near the Swami Vivekananda Road metro station.

Officials say that they are open to extending the timings, but their main concern is patronage. The timings for the Green Line were extended based on requests and this could be the way of achieving the same for the entire phase, said officials.

A train to work and back

Thousands of people took part in a mass ‘Rail Yatra’ in support of the suburban rail service for the city, in the second half of December. “For real traction on meaningful implementation, decongesting the city railway station (Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna station) is the key,” said Prashant Rao, a campaigner for the suburban service in the city. “The Railways seems to have adequate land available at Yelahanka to expand the station, making it the city’s main station for termination of long-distance trains. More frequent trips between Ramanagram and Tumakuru would also be of great help,” he added.

The authorities seem to be listening. South Western Railway announced a train from the Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna station to Whitefield a few days after the #ChukuBukuBeku campaign. The train has halts at Cantonment, Bengaluru East, Byappanahalli, K.R. Puram, and Hoodi, which will help hundreds of commuters.

The Railways also announced that it would start prioritising short-distance trains, a move which many hope will result in a suburban network taking shape during the year.

Completing pending infrastructure projects

While Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George has been pushing for a steel flyover in the city, the citizens have a passionate movement, #SteelFlyoverBeda.

But everyone agrees that the focus this year should be on completion of all the pending civic infrastructure projects — the “hanging in the air” flyovers at Byappanahalli, Hennur, Goraguntepalya, and Rani Chennamma Circle, which will ease traffic flow to a great extent.

Flyovers are not the only projects that are failing to meet deadlines. There are multiple railway underpass and overpass projects languishing in a maze of land acquisition issues. The railway underpass at Jakkur, Kodigehalli, Sahakarnagar and the Okalipuram signal-free corridor have been pending for over a year now.

Urban commute expert Sanjeev V. Dyamannanavar said that instead of talking of large projects like the steel flyover and elevated corridors, the government should focus on smaller interventions that can provide immediate relief for the city’s commuters. “For instance, the completion of Rani Chennamma flyover and Goraguntepalya flyover on the Outer Ring Road will provide a signal-free commute for south and west Bengaluru people to Hebbal and to the airport,” he said.

The Chief Minister has set March 2017 deadline for developing two alternative roads to the airport via Hennur Road and Thanisandra Road. The BBMP is working towards widening two arterial roads — Bannerghatta Road and Ballari Road — which, if completed, will provide much relief to commuters.

Getting segregation at source

For a city that produces over 3,500 tonnes of garbage a day, Bengaluru segregates less than half its garbage.

With solid waste management touching a raw nerve in the city the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is now gearing up to reintroduce the implementation of segregation at source from February. Its previous attempt saw only 40 per cent segregation.

Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, Solid Waste Management, BBMP, said the civic body was in the process of setting right the infrastructure on its end to deal with the additional wet waste that is expected to come once segregation gains pace. Several of its wet waste processing plants are at present performing under capacity. “We are aiming at achieving 70 to 80 per cent segregation this time,” he said.

Rejuvenation of Bellandur, Varthur lakes

The process of rejuvenation of Bellandur and Varthur lakes was initiated in 2016. It’s been over two months since the technical committee — formed for rejuvenation of the two lakes —submitted its report, but the work is yet to begin.

While the rejuvenation will take over two years, the committee has set out a calendar for short-term tasks for 2017, which unless implemented, will lead to delays. “The immediate steps are to prevent the inlet of industrial effluents and untreated sewage from the apartments surrounding the lakes, which needs to be done in another three months,” environmentalist A.N. Yellappa Reddy, a member of the technical committee, said.

Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board has undertaken work on three sewage treatment plants (STPs) in the upstream of Bellandur and Varthur lakes, the deadline for which is December 2017. “The STP at Agara, with a capacity of 120 MLD, and an STP of 200-MLD capacity in Koramangala–Challaghatta valley should be completed in another six months. The BWSSB has finalised the tenders for another STP next to Bellandur lake (100 MLD capacity) which can be completed in six months,” a senior BWSSB official said.

Mr. Reddy said the STPs have to be completed before dredging and removal of sludge and silt deposits from the lakes could be taken up in 2018 summer. “If the STPs are operational by the end of 2017, and the flow of industrial effluents and untreated sewage from apartments into the lakes is stopped, we can prevent the lakes from frothing to a large extent,” he said.

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