Friday, May 28, 2010

Don’t widen roads here, say residents

Don’t widen roads here, say residents
Yellow And Black Boards Put Up In Front Of Houses Protesting The Proposed Demolition

If you are travelling on the 2-km stretch of Banashankari Ring Road, you will not miss the yellow and white board put up in front of most houses. “Ring Road widening is illegal. We oppose this. Development is not widening a few welldeveloped roads,” reads one of the boards hung in front of a house; 6.3 metres of the residence, marked in red letters, will be demolished.
Both sides of a 14.5-metre stretch on Ring Road are earmarked for widening, against which residents have been up in arms for years. “Two months ago, we installed 20 kinds of boards in front of houses and commercial enterprises which are going to be affected. The boards are in Kannada and English. Our aim is to inform one and all that it is illegal to demolish properties in the name of road widening. This is a well-developed BDA layout,” said B N Venkateshmurthy, core committee member of Banashankari Ring Road Property Owners’ Association.
Naturally, residents rejected the transferable development rights (TDR) offered by BBMP as compensation to the space acquired, as TDR have no value and are not equal to market prices. “Who buys TDR?” asks an angry resident.
“I fought in the Supreme court for years to get this site. Only in 1995 I won the case against BDA and got my site. Now, for this illogical road widening, I will lose a major portion of my property. BDA conducted auction for sites in this layout even in 2006. Why don’t the town planners foresee future challenges when they plan layouts? The solution to reduce traffic congestion is to create alternative roads,” Venkateshmurthy maintained.
“This is a proper BDA layout and the roads are 100-foot wide. In fact, it is a four-lane road and four buses can commute at a time. Why should it be widened again? What value is there for TDRs proposed by the government? BBMP officials are so callous that they threw one TDR application in front of my house,” says Jayanthi Dwarakanath, a property owner on 100-Feet Ring Road.
If losing part of the property is not enough, the bigger challenge for residents is to relay water and sewerage pipelines. “Generally every household will have a water sump in front. With road widening, our sumps and sewerage pits will also be demolished. Has the BBMP ever thought of these issues? It is not in one or two houses, but all residents will have to face this,” is the common complaint.
BBMP knocked at the doors of Banaswadi residents two years ago when markings were made on houses to be acquired for road widening. But the process was stopped due to the civic election. With polls over, work has gained momentum now. “Markings were made on my compound wall two years ago. Soon after the BBMP election, engineers came again reminding us about the road widening. When we protested, they said no matter what we do, 3.5 metre of land will be acquired. Why don’t they discuss these issues with residents before taking a decision to demolish,” asked a resident of Banaswadi who didn’t want to be named.
BBMP doesn’t have the details of how many trees will be chopped off for the mammoth road-widening project. “Only those in the core city area will be affected, but not in the outer zonal areas,” is what officials say.
But green activists and environmentalists are disappointed. “The detailed project report of 12 signal-free corridors does not encompass environment impact assessment. The Palike’s technical approval committee, which approved this project, hasn’t bothered about social cost benefit analysis. Earlier in 2005, when 91 roads were proposed for widening, we had assessed that not less than 20,000 trees would be affected. But now when BBMP wants to widen 216 roads, 40,000 trees across the city will be felled. Is this the way to development?” asks Vinay Sreenivasa, coordinator of Hasiru-Usiru, a green NGO.
According to BBMP, 1,679 trees were cut for infrastructure development during 2008-09, and 792 in 2009-10. “To compensate for the loss, BBMP planted 13,000 trees in 2006-07, 1,58,900 trees in 2007-08, 2 lakh in 2008-09 and another 2 lakh in 2009-10. This year, we have plans to plant 5 lakh trees,” said Puttaswamy, deputy conservator of forests, BBMP.


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