Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Road widening is no way to ease congestion

Road widening is no way to ease congestion

Nice road coming up PARALLEL to ORR can provide better connectivity

Sunitha Rao R. Bangalore

The BBMP decision to widen the Outer Ring Road from Central Silk Board to Mysore Road has run into opposition from property-owners in the area who stand to lose their land and buildings because of this. While the BBMP claims that this will ease the traffic flow, Muralidhar Rao, traffic expert and former advisor to BMTC, thinks otherwise. He spoke to Sunitha Rao R on the issue.

Is ORR widening the only way to ease congestion?
I don't think that widening the roads is the solution. Why should the government destroy more and more properties in the name of land acquisition? Widening of the road involves many issues like dislocation of houses, disrupting business etc and all this will mean that the property holders will have to suffer. In case of the ring road, the NICE road is coming up on the stretch parallel to it, which will provide better connectivity.

What is the best way to deal with land acquisition?
The government should set up a body to monitor the loss suffered by individual property holders because of the road widening drive. Compensation must be paid to the property holders. Moreover, the compensation given to the commercial entrepreneurs should be higher than the market prices. Dedicating urban property for the sake of public transport makes sense only if there are buses commuting between the stretches every three minutes, which is unlikely.
What is the situation in other countries? Is there any model which Bangalore can follow?
Earlier, countries like Japan and Thailand had attempted to widen roads to allow the easy movement of traffic. But now they have realised that encouraging public transport is the only solution and are working on these lines. We have to adopt the London method of road transport wherein congestion tax is levied on automobile users.

On the one hand the government is coming up with more BMTC buses and on the other hand they also widen the road, which encourages private vehicles.
Yes, it is. As I said, the solution lies in encouraging public transportation. To make this happen, the monopoly of BMTC must be curtailed. The government must function only as a regulatory body. Let them involve private agencies in public transport; the BMTC should not and cannot handle public transport alone. Even though Bangalore has developed into a cosmopolitan city, BMTC buses still sport name plates with destinations written in Kannada. Conductors and drivers hardly co operate when passengers ask them about the bus routes.

What needs to be done for better co-ordination between BDA and BBMP?
The Bangalore Metropolitan Land Development Authority must be made the empowered authority to co-ordinate between the public, BBMP and BDA.

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