Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bangalore comes out to save Bangalore

Bangalore comes out to save Bangalore

Over 2,000 citizens join march against road-widening. Their message to the BBMP: A permanent no to the plan

Vaishalli Chandra Bangalore

It takes a city to save a city. On Tuesday, over 2,000 citizens came out and made all the right noises about everything wrong about BBMP's road-widening plan. Their message was loud and clear: A complete and permanent halt to road-widening.
Representatives of 68 residents' welfare associations (RWAs) joined the protest march in the morning from Mysore Bank Circle to Banappa Park, where they staged a dharna against road-widening and the transfer of development rights (TDR) plans of the BBMP. Among them were freedom fighter HS Doreswamy and former high court judge and chairman of Transparency International (state chapter) Justice MF Saldanha.
Everyone joined Save Bangalore Committee's (SBC's) call against road-widening.
"We demand a complete and permanent withdrawal of the road widening project in all areas and not just temporary suspension of work in residential areas," said BR Manjunath, convener, SBC.
The protesters criticised the seed of division sowed by the authorities into core and periphery areas. "There should not be any distinction among areas as 'core' or 'periphery' or 'newly-added'. We demand a gazette notification from the government to totally stop this project," said Manjunath. The protest targeted mayor SK Nataraj's announcement last Friday of stopping road-widening works in residential zones only in the core areas (read temporarily), while continuing it in newly-added areas on the city's outskirts. "We demand that BBMP and the state government set up an expert committee to look into all aspects of traffic management and suggest remedial measures which don't warrant any type of displacement," said Justice Saldanha. He described road-widening as an "anti-people decision taken in favour of vested interests," and emphasised the need for the government "to take affected citizens into confidence in deciding on city matters".
Veteran freedom fighter Doreswamy egged on the protesters: "Have faith. Continue to come out in large numbers like this against the state government's decisions like road-widening at the cost of people's convenience." Homemakers, working professionals, senior citizens as well as school and college students joined the protest. Students of Turnbridge High School on Infantry Road, too, were present as they stand to lose a major chunk of their playground, besides the charm of a 100-year-old YMCA bungalow to the plan.
Wary of the growing resentment, the state government sent its representative in the form of higher education minister Aravind Limbavali to attend the dharna. Limbavali, after giving a patient hearing to the protesters and accepting the memorandum demanding the scrapping of road-widening project, said: "We are thinking (about the project) and are of the opinion that it should be given up."
He promised to brief chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, and said: "The Cabinet will soon take a decision on the project, keeping in mind the sentiments of the people."


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