Thursday, August 26, 2010

High Court clears path for high-speed rail link

High Court clears path for high-speed rail link

Staff Reporter
It refuses to interfere; dismisses petition by NGO Samarpana against the project
The proposed high-speed rail link is between Bangalore city and BIA at Devanahalli

Samarpana claims the SWR route from Bangalore to Devanahalli would be more cost-effective

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday refused to interfere with the proposed high-speed rail link (HSRL) between Bangalore city and the international airport at Devanahalli and dismissed a petition by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) of Bangalore against it.

NGO Samarpana had petitioned the High Court against the high-speed rail link project connecting M.G. Road and the Bengaluru International Airport at Devanahalli.

Samarpana said Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) had taken up the East–West Metro project from Dasarahalli-Peenya-Yeshwanthpur to J.P. Nagar via Rajajinagar on West of Chord Road-Navrang Circle-Malleswaram area. It said work was going on for the last one year and it is slated to be completed by 2012.

The BMRCL is also planning to connect BIAL by extending the Metro from Yeshwanthpur and also from Byappanahalli towards Banaswadi and further.

Even as the Metro authorities have taken up extension work of the project, the State issued a global invitation notification on June 30, 2008, for taking up the high-speed rail link to BIAL on build operate and transfer (BOT) basis and sought expression of interest on the project.

It said there was a debate on the project and cost factor at a meeting held on September 26, 2008, under the chairmanship of Ananth Kumar, vice-chairman of ABIDe. The meeting sought to know why the existing metro alignment could not be extended up to BIAL so as to ensure that passengers did not switch over from one mode of transport to another. Samarpana highlighted the problems that would be faced by the residents of Bangalore, including cost of the HSRL project which may go up to Rs. 10,000 crore. It requested the State to take up the South Western Railway (SWR) route from Bangalore to Devanahalli, which it said, would be cost effective. Moreover, if this route is agreed upon, acquiring land around Hebbal lake which is a water body, could be avoided

Concern for water body

It said the State had not analysed the gravity of traffic that may pass through the existing roads to the BIAL. The State was also going against the decision of the Supreme Court and the Karnataka High Court in acquiring land in and around Hebbal lake for the HSPL station.

Any acquisition, it said, would affect the water body.

It quoted the Railway Minister's statement that he would provide low cost rail transport service (by SWR) and construct a commuter rail station near the trumpet interchange at Devanahalli. Besides, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was also constructing an expressway from Hebbal to BIAL. When these projects are already on the anvil, there was no need for the HSRL, it said.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice Manjula Chellur dismissed the petition, saying that there was no ground to interfere with the proposed project.

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