Thursday, July 08, 2004

Work on BMIC underway quietly

BMIC expressway is underway

Niranjan Nikam, Vijay Times

Bangalore: Leaving behind the raging controversies surrounding land acquisition, the work on the ambitious Rs 2,200 crore Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project (BMIC) has begun quietly, raising hopes of a world-class expressway between two major cities of the State. Brisk civil work has been taken up from Sompura near Banashankari 6th stage in the first phase.
The fact that the state government has also taken up windening of the Bangalore - Mysore road into a four-lane highway has not deterred BIMC.
"It is the best thing to happen. We also welcome the doubling of railway track between the two cities as both these projects bring economic development to the region," said managing director of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise Ltd (NICE) Ashok Kheny.
Recalling the hassles he had to go through before the government cleared the project, he said there were 17 major Acts both Central and State that needed to be changed. In the first phase of the project, NICE has acquired 950 acres of land spread out on Tumkur Road and Hosur Road where the peripheral road will pass. The total area of land that will be acquired for the whole project will be 20,193 acres out of which 15,000 acres will be private land and 5,000 acres of government land.
Kheny said that so much of land was required not only for the roads but also for the five townships that will come up which will include corporate, commercial, heritage, industrial and eco-tourism townships.
So far Rs 82.5 crore has been paid to KIADB and the cost paid per acre varied between Rs 6 lakh to Rs 20 lakh depending upon the location of the land.
However, there is some resistance in some of the villages which are affected by the project. "What guarantee is there that the villagers are going to be rehabilitated. We know from experience that these are just tall promises which will never be kept," said Major General S G Vombatkere (Retd) one of the most vocal opponents of the project.
M Venkataramappa, advisor to the project, however, claimed that for every acre of land acquired, one 60 x 40 site would be provided and this was a commitment made to the villagers.
According to Kheny, his company would not have been in business if they were not an infrastructure company. "we are not real estate agents whose sole aim is to loot and scoot," he said.
He says the company has so far raised Rs850 crore from banks for the project and already paid Rs82.5 crore to KIADB for the land acquired. He is confident that it will be a viable project as the 111 km distance can be covered in one hour and 15 minutes and there will be many takers.
The toll cost works out to Rs 100 per vehicle as the expressway will be free of cattle, bicycles and the minimum speed will be 50 Kms per hour.said Kheny, adding, that it was build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) project and they would hand over the expressway to the government at Re 1 after 30 years from the date of the completion of the project.
ICICI is the lead bank for the project and 13 other lead banks and financial institutions are funding this project. "If there is any cost over-run we have given guarantees that it will be met by us and we are confident as the project is backed by the Rs 1000 crore Kalyani Group, VHB International Ltd and SAB International Ltd," he said.
"However much we tried to begin work from the Mysore end, we have so far been unsuccessful because MUDA has still not handed over the land to us," said Venkataramappa. "We would not have filed writ petitions against the Government and the KIADB to acquire land if we were not serious about the project," said Kheny. He is confident that the project will be ready in four years.


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