Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Metro: traders demand realignment

Metro: traders demand realignment

The Times of India

They want the rail to bypass CMH Road and Indiranagar 100 Feet Road They want the rail to bypass CMH Road and Indiranagar 100 Feet Road

BUSINESS MINDED: Members of the CMH Road Shops and Establishments' Association staging a protest on Tuesday. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

BANGALORE: Traders have demanded that the proposed metro rail be realigned directly from Ulsoor towards Old Madras Road, bypassing Chinmaya Mission Hospital (CMH) Road and Indiranagar 100 Feet Road.

The demand has been made by members of the CMH Road Shops and Establishments' Association, who staged a protest along CMH Road on Tuesday.

The plans of Bangalore Mass Rapid Transit Ltd. (BMRTL), as they now stand, involve pulling down most structures along CMH Road, felling trees on the roadsides and displacing residents, according to Imtiaz Ahmed, president of the association.

"By realigning the metro route with stations in Ulsoor and Byappanahalli, bypassing CMH Road, the distance can be reduced by half a km and a lot of trouble to businesses and residents prevented. If businesses close down the Government will be the loser,'' Mr Ahmed said.

The BJP leader and advocate Pramila Nesargi, who led the protestors, repeated the misgivings about the metro rail project she expressed at a press conference last month. The project cost of Rs. 6,200 crores is a gross underestimation and it could be over Rs. 10,000 crores, she said. The details of operating cost and power subsidy have been understated by the BMRTL, she alleged.

"The KPTCL (Karnataka Power Transmission Company Ltd) will have to supply power to metro rail at a loss, and the actual operating costs will be higher than that revealed. The revenue has been overestimated with fare collection figures based on 8.2 lakh passengers to start with and going up to 16 lakh passenger by 2021. Even Delhi Metro carries only 15 lakh a day. The BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation) which runs services on 450 routes using over 3,000 buses accounts only for 24 lakh passengers, and the metro, with two alignments and covering 36 km, cannot find eight lakh passengers,'' Ms. Nesargi, a former legislator, said.

A geological study commissioned by the BMRTL, which reportedly ruled out an underground system, and the metro having to be financed by commercial complexes along its route and around its stations were the other objections raised by the BJP leader. She also feared the metro project may get mired in a "standard-gauge versus broad-gauge" controversy.

Auto drivers' worry

The Autorickshaw Drivers' Union, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, joined the protest. It said it has reason to believe that the metro project will pose a threat to the livelihood of auto drivers.

The general secretary of the union, H.G. Srinivasa Murthy, said the BMRTL and the State Urban Development Ministry have told the Public Investment Board that to increase usage of the metro, autorickshaws may be banned on the routes of the metro system. "We cannot accept such conditions,'' he said.


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