Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ORR to take time to come full circle

ORR to take time to come full circle
City motorists will have to wait at least a year to use the ORR to commute right around Bangalore without taking any diversions

The 62-km outer ring road (ORR), the crown jewel among infrastructure projects in the city, will not be touching the finishing line anytime soon.
Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), which started work on the project in 1998, has said it will need at least another year the road forms an unbroken circle. The stumbling block is the 5.60-km stretch between Tumkur Road junction and Mysore Road junction, which has three flyovers and underpasses planned at Sumanahalli, Nayandahalli and Nagarbhavi near the National Law School.
Speaking to this paper, Vishnu Kumar, executive engineer (west) of BDA, said, “We have been working on the project in parts. In 2002, a temporary link was created to connect Magadi Road through Kengeri Layout because of rehabilitation work. That meant a deviation from the originally planned circle that was marked in the Comprehensive Development Plan of 1984 during the tenure of Ramakrishna Hegde. However, in 2006 we took up the task of reverting to the original plan of connecting Tumkur Road and Mysore Road junction. We have completed most of the work.”
However, the ground reality is quite different. The 323-metre flyover project at Sumanahalli, which has a 22-metre-wide carriageway, was originally to be completed by June 2009. Two 200-metre approach roads were also part of the project. But according to the progress report submitted by BDA on May 6 this year, only 40 per cent of the work has been completed. While M A Azeem, BDA assistant engineer working on the project, refused to comment on the delay, Chinna Dorai, senior manager with Chennai-based East Coast Construction which has been awarded the tender, blamed it on the rain.
As things stand, BDA has extended the deadline for the project to August 2009. But the foremen working at the site say the project will not be completed before October. “There is still a lot of work to be completed in terms of ramps, gutters and obligates. We will need at least six months to complete the project at Sumanahalli,” said S Adhikari, one of the foremen. With a passenger car unit (PCU) capacity of close to 70,000, the existing road connecting Tumkur Road and Mysore Road junction is among the busiest stretches.
But what has truly hit the brakes on the ORR project is the railway bridge near Mysore Road. The 0.8-metre stretch where an underpass has been planned has not even reached the tender stage. BDA has paid Rs 12.13 crore as deposit to the railways for the release of the land so that the work can begin.
“But with live rail traffic, there is a lot of work that needs to be completed, including the shifting of the tracks and diverting the trains before we can even begin to think about starting work on the underpass. It will take about a year and a half from the date that we begin for the project to be completed,” said Vishnu Kumar.
It has been close to a quarter of a century that the ORR first made an appearance on the city planners’ wishlist. Yet, Bangalore still waits for it to come a full circle.
First proposed during the Ramakrishna Hegde government, the project was taken up on a war footing when the J H Patel government came to power in 1997. The ORR runs round the perimeter of Bangalore city and connects all the major highways, including Tumkur Road and Old Madras Road (NH-4), Bellary Road and Hosur Road (NH-7), and Bannerghatta Road and Kanakapura Road (NH-209).
Originally envisaged in 1984 at a cost of Rs 300 crore, the project’s cost escalation on account of the decades-long delay is something the authorities are not keen to comment on.
Meanwhile, Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) has almost completed another partial ring road around Bangalore as a part of the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project.
BDA and BMRDA have planned three more ring roads beyond the existing ring road. The first of these, the peripheral ring road, will run a few kilometres beyond the BMIC-PRR. The second and third of these will be known as the intermediate ring road and the satellite towns ring road respectively.


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