Friday, June 26, 2009

Fraught with ecological issues

Fraught with ecological issues

A stretch of the Shanthinagar drain, over which the proposed 5.5 km road-over-drain from KH Road to Koramangla Inner Ring Road will pass.
Monica Jha First Published : 25 Jun 2009 02:43:03 PM IST
For a city grappling hard with flooding in low-lying areas, the fact that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) is mulling over a big infrastructure project of building road over storm water drains (SWDs), cannot be good news.
The BBMP has received a proposal from SPML Infrastructure Limited, a private company, for the development of an elevated Road-Over- Drain (ROD)
corridor over the SWD from KH road to Koramangala Inner Ring Road, a distance of 5.5 km. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) submitted by the company in January this year has pegged the project cost to Rs 400 crore.
The DPR states that the signal-free road corridor would help in decreasing the commuting time from 45-60 minutes to 5-10 minutes. Town planning experts say that if the BBMP goes ahead with the project the city will only get more flooded. Areas like Ejipura, Viveknagar, Koramangala VI block and other parts of the Koramangala valley will be especially vulnerable.
“Piers within the drain would obstruct the flow of water. The major reason for flooding is stagnant or slowmoving water in drains. Civic agencies see SWDs as no man’s land and potential real estate. They lack a holistic approach,” says Dr TV Ramachandra, of the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science.
The technical committee of the BBMP had also raised this questions when the Expressions of Interest were called for the project. However, the DPR clearly states that no flood control mechanisms have been incorporated in the project. On the issue of drain obstruction the DPR says that piers would be constructed within the width of the drain wall with a difference of 16 metres to 18 metres between two piers. It also says that the SWD wall will be strengthened near the pier locations.
According to the DPR, water supply pipes cross the drain at Bannerghatta Road and Hosur Road but it clearly states that installation of a sewage treatment plant (STP) is not a part of the project.
Land acquisition
The project cannot be undertaken until land is acquired at various portions of the proposed stretch to ensure uniform road width. A part of the land is to be used for commercial development and parking also. The DPR says that the BBMP should acquire the land. According to the DPR, the total acquisition required is 2430 sq. metres at one end and 11,600 sq. metres at the other end. To get uniform road width, land needs to be acquired on two stretches: 860 sq. metres including 16 properties
near Anepalya, and 2760 sq metres including 11 properties, vacant land and a park near National Games Village.
Past blunders
The city is still suffering from the civic bodies’ decision in the past to use tank beds for development of residential and commercial layouts. “A SWD is an independent utility and an integrated part of the natural drainage system. Any further infrastructure on SWD or multi use of the SWDs would adversely affect the whole system,” Dr Ramachandra said. Advisor to the state government on Traffic, Transportation and Infrastructure, Prof MN Sreehari agreed that RODs would enhance the possibility of floods, especially in Ejipura and the Inner Ring Road, when water level goes up during rains.
Commercially not viable
The DPR says that toll, lease rentals from commercial and advertisement spaces for 35 years would not be enough to make the project financially viable. Therefore, the developers had asked 25 acres of land near the BIA to be commercially developed to recover the project cost.
Project status
The DPR, prepared at a cost of Rs 2 crore, was submitted to BBMP in January 2009. It was vetted by the BBMP’s technical advisory committee. The proposal was discussed during the fifth meeting of state level single window agency on February 17, 2009. It will now be discussed by ABIDe.


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