Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Road-widening projects hit a dead-end

Road-widening projects hit a dead-end
The Times of India

Bangalore: First, land acquisition and compensation was a hurdle to the road-widening projects. Transferable Development Rights (TDR) was the solution and four roads were finalised through this, and the work contract awarded to the KRDCL. But it’s hit another roadblock.
Nearly 300 trees have to be axed to make way for widening of Seshadri, Palace, Kasturba and Race Course roads.
The BBMP review meeting on Monday could not find an answer. “Our effort is to retain as many trees as possible. Having a median along the tree line will create a dedicated autorickshaw and two-wheeler lane. But we are yet to examine if that is practical,’’ said BBMP commissioner K Jairaj. The BBMP has already held two review meetings.
This problem is similar to what had hit Northern Corridor improvement project — Hebbal Junction to Minsk Square — envisaged six years ago. It looked at six-laning the 7.1 km corridor starting from Minsk Square to Hebbal Junction and encompassed 13 junctions. The stretch from KR Circle to Basaveshwara Circle and from SBM Circle to Basaveshwara Circle was to be developed as these two roads are linked to the corridor. The main component was also to widen Windsor Manor bridge. While the initial hitch was land acquisition as the entire project involved 29,000 sq m, fully grown trees posed the next problem. Nearly 423 trees along Minsk Square to Hebbal Junction; 80 trees from KR Circle to Basaveshwara Circle, 44 trees from SBM Circle to Basaveshwara Circle had to be axed. The project got stalled.
Two years ago, the TDR scheme was put in place, but again it did not evince public interest. Have the Rs 800-crore road widening works hit a dead-end? In all probability yes, as most projects involve huge private land and very few takers for the TDR scheme. Though TDR awards a private landowner additional floor area ratio in exchange for the land surrendered for any public purpose, the BBMP is finding it difficult to sell enough TDRs along the proposed project sites.
The BBMP has so far notified 85 roads for widening after consultations with traffic department and state government has given the go-ahead for four roads. However, the 2007-08 budget has allocated Rs 50 crore for widening of 12 roads in the first phase including the four roads.
As of now, authorities have identified hundreds of private properties along the proposed roads. To date, only 20 TDR has been sold.
Meanwhile, builders say the landowners have nothing to fear as there is already a huge demand for FAR. Apparently, there is a market for 6 lakh sq ft of FAR created in less than a year in the city.
However, the KOAPA has urged the government to bring in some changes in the TDR scheme. “First, the landowners are unhappy with lack of compensation for built-up area as TDR calculation is based only on the extent of land lost.
Also, there’s the issue of landowners having to retain the narrow piece of land after a major portion goes into the project,’’ explained Balakrishna Hegde, president, Karnataka Ownership Apartments Promoters’ Association (KOAPA).
85 roads notified, 12 roads in phase I Work tender has been awarded for four roads. Kasturba Road will be widened from 22 m to 24 m; Seshadri Road from 22 m to 30 m; Palace Road from 21 m to 30 m; Race Course Road from 19 m to 30 m 250 TDR forms given in Hosur Road and 40 in Bellary Road
Hosur Road and Bellary Road are being tendered, but the project also runs the risk of delays owing to shifting of utilities, protests against felling of trees and TDR complications.


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