Sunday, December 06, 2009

M G Road station still embroiled in litigation

M G Road station still embroiled in litigation
S Praveen Dhaneshkar

Are the Metro stations seamlessly networked with other modes of transport? Can commuters simply park their personal vehicles at these hubs and get on / off the Metro Rail? Deccan Herald takes a look at this critical aspect, while tracking the citizen’s woes due to the project works, stretch by stretch.

The M G Road station or the Plaza Theatre station, as it is referred to, is the last and sixth one on the elevated 8 km corridor of Reach-1 (Byappanahalli to Cricket Stadium) and is being constructed at a height of 12 meters above ground.

Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) had awarded the tender to construct and develop this station to Punj Lloyd at a cost of Rs 43.5 crore. At present, only 15 per cent of the work on the station has been completed as the foundation laying is still on.

However, crucial to the completion of this station is the acquisition of the old Plaza Theatre, to house a portion of the station. Currently the take-over process is embroiled in litigation, with the owners challenging the possession and takeover of the building in the High Court of Karnataka.

This station is located on the once showpiece road of the City and has several high rise commercial complexes on one-side and the historic Manekshaw Parade Grounds and Defence land on the other.

The M G Road’s transition from the South Parade days of the British Raj to a 21st century commercial hub has resulted in many heritage buildings on M G Road make way for high-rise commercial complexes over the last few years.

Notable among the buildings that made way for high-rises were eminent photographers EGK and Sons and G K Vale. M G Road has also seen the vanishing act of some of the oldest theatre complexes or talkies on this stretch, namely the Plaza theatre which will now house a portion of the Metro station.

Other theatres such as the Bluemoon and Bluediamond also shut shop as commercial complexes came up in their place. Bookstores such as the Premier Book Shop, The Book Cellar and the UBS Publishers also had to close down on this road. Historic cafeteria’s such as the Lakeview Milk Parlour and EGK Chit Chat also gradually disappeared to make way for development. This road had to also lose its landmark boulevard/promenade in 2007 to the Metro project.

Old time Bangaloreans say they surely miss taking a stroll along the boulevard that was brought down, despite vociferous opposition from green activists and citizens concerned on the depleting green cover of the City. On the positive side, the BMRCL has assured of reconstructing the boulevard once the project is complete. Until then the long wait
continues.

Traders claim loss of business

The Metro alignment on this stretch of the Central Business District (CBD) has also resulted in heavy losses to commercial establishments on M G Road.

Very recently, the Bombay Store that was located at the premises of where the EGK and Sons once stood, too decided to close down. Whether the Metro is to be blamed for this, only time will tell.

Many business establishments here agree that the Metro is an eyesore that has cut into the earnings of the commercial establishments.

Many businessmen here, even lament that the road once known for its cleanliness, order and ample car parking space is now just a shadow of its past glory, which may sadly never be restored despite the Metro running in December 2010.

Motorists who use M G Road as a thoroughfare daily say that traffic related problems are aplenty here. There has been the huge reduction in width of the road as barricades and massive scaffolding erected to facilitate Metro construction have become a hindrance to free-flow of vehicles. Autorickshaws are allowed to enter only on one side of the road.

The recent incident where a miscreant stole a iron rod and damaged a vehicle while trying to flee is still fresh in the minds of many and prove that accidents could occur anytime and cause injuries to motorists and passers-by. Office-goers and others who use this stretch of road opine that getting stuck in traffic snarls at signal junctions near the Brigade Road-Cauvery Emporium has become a harrowing task.

Offenders to be fined

The Bangalore Metro once operational could have an act modelled on the Delhi Metro Railway (Operations and Maintenance) Act, 2002 where-in BMRCL could empower station managers/controllers to impose fines on offenders.

Under it, offences such as drunkenness, nuisance, spitting, squatting or quarrelling could be punishable by a fine of Rs 200, forfeiture of pass, ticket and even removal from the carriage.

Those found walking on tracks could be made to cough up Rs 150.

What people say?

Bhoopalam P Srinath: Proprietor of Bombay Dyeing showroom and ex-secretary of Bangalore Trades Association, M G Road: “Parking that was angular earlier has now become parallel. Space to park vehicles is next to impossible. We hope that the Metro will keep up to schedules for early completion.”

Suhail Yusuff, Secretary of Brigade Shops and Establishments Association: “The Metro should not have been aligned on M G Road at all. BMRCL should have aligned the project through Cubbon Road. After construction began, vehicular traffic being clogged is a daily feature. Many shops have also seen a decrease in footfalls.”

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