Thursday, October 01, 2009

BMRCL panel's head was buried in the sand

BMRCL panel's head was buried in the sand

Vaishalli Chandra

AN Yellappa Reddy, former environment secretary who recently quit from the Environment Impact Assessment Committee of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL), tells Vaishalli Chandra about the corporation's disregard for the committee.

Does BMRCL take the committee seriously?
I don't think they care. They haven't convened a single committee meeting in the past two years before undertaking any Metro work. Even the fact that the corporation had started work on the Chinnaswamy stadium-Vidhana Soudha-Central College stretch was brought to our notice by tree officers and the bio-diversity committee. BMRCL officials didn't bother to discuss it with us.

If that route was open to discussion, what alternative would you have suggested?
Firstly, I doubt their statistics — three lakh people coming to Vidhana Soudha and the high court area. I think the numbers are inflated. Anyhow, instead of the proposed three stations at Central College, Vidhana Soudha and the cricket stadium, we would have proposed that the plan be dropped for the Central College station and instead have one at Race Course. The Race Course is being shifted; so 50% of the space could be used for Metro; it can also hold a station. Since it is an open space, no trees will need to be cut. An aerial pathway, air-conditioned and with escalators, can be constructed.

Why is the Race Course area better?
It would not involve any clearing of trees as it is an open space. For the station in the area currently being proposed, a lot of trees will have to be cut. In fact, it is surprising that BMRCL wants to cut trees just to occupy a large area as 'working space', which is needed to launch activities and other operations. Why don't they examine the possibility of using pre-fabricated material? Then they won't need so much working space. We do not then have to cut large numbers of trees. Approximately, 1,000 trees may get cut in the area if BMRCL goes ahead with its plan.

Trees were axed at the Lalbagh site also.
There was no other option in that site. However, we had only suggested one or two stations on that stretch. For the RV Road-Lakshman Rao Road stretch, we were not consulted. Else, we would have suggested an alternative route.

Do you think your quitting the committee will help the environmental cause?
There was no point in remaining in the committee anymore as the present group is not consulting me. I feel that if the Metro does come near Vidhana Soudha, it will create a lot of problems.

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