Tuesday, April 28, 2009

State rules out changes in metro rail alignment

State rules out changes in metro rail alignment

S. Rajendran
Decision after high-level meeting with Centre
State Government cannot affect changes in alignment unilaterally

Consent for land in Lalbagh was given during President’s Rule

Bangalore: Much to the chagrin of some important political leaders, particularly those in the ruling party who have been backing the demand for changes in the metro rail alignment, the State Government, which has held discussions with the Union Government, has ruled out any change in the track alignment.

The Bangalore Metro Rail is a Centre-State project and changes in alignment cannot be effected by the State Government unilaterally. It is another matter that the details of the Government’s discussion and stand on alignment have been kept a closely guarded secret since general elections are presently on and the demand for changes has come about from a section of the people residing in the Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency.

Sources in the State Government told The Hindu that a high-level meeting was held here recently in the background of the change in alignment being sought. The conclusion at the meeting was “the Detailed Project Report for the Bangalore Metro Rail prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is final. The alignment for the Southern Line (Reach 4 of phase one) has been finalised after considering all other alternatives including techno-economic and environmental considerations”.

With reference to the land (1,135 square metres) in the periphery of the Lalbagh Botanical gardens which has been granted for the project, it has been clarified: “The Government has thoroughly examined the requirement of land in the western periphery of Lalbagh and has approved the grant of land for the construction of a railway station. The land shall be utilised only for providing access of the metro rail from and to the railway station and construction of staircases for the emergency evacuation of passengers, if need be (as required under the fire safety norms). At this stage of the project execution it is neither possible nor desirable to change the alignment”.

Asked for his reaction to the stand of the Government, N. Sivasailam, Managing Director, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation, told The Hindu that the project was under execution as per the Detailed Project Report and was on schedule. Demands for changes in the alignment were there from across all areas. “It is our duty to execute the project as promised to the people. Around 0.001 per cent of the land in the periphery of the Lalbagh Botanical gardens has been earmarked for a railway station and work has commenced,” he said.

The consent for the strip of land in Lalbagh was given during the President’s Rule in the State in early 2008. Following the decision, the Karnataka Parks Preservation Act was amended through an ordinance and Government orders were subsequently issued.

It is understood that the BMRCL has also sought 40 acres of land at Kinmiki village along the Mysore Road for construction of housing quarters for the crew and other staff of the metro. The requisition for this piece of land is now before the State Revenue Department.

In another development, the Government is also stated to be seized of the matter relating to the huge advertisement revenue that would be generated by the metro rail. Advertisements would be permitted all over the piers and the viaduct apart from the metro rail stations. With the metro project largely coming up on the BBMP lands, the BBMP has also sought a share of the advertisement revenue while the BMRCL has claimed that it should be granted permission to enjoy the full advertisement revenue.


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