Say no to Tagore Circle underpass construction in Bangalore

Last Update: Monday, April 19, 2010
http://www.petitiononline.com/underpas/
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-pedestrian-infrastructure
PIL planned against Tagore Circle underpass Deccan Herald April 18 2010
Footpaths make all the difference The Hindu, Sun, Nov 22, 2009
Ire against project: Members of the Save Bangalore Committee and residents of Basavanagudi protesting against the construction of the underpass at the Tagore Circle in Bangalore on Saturday. - The Hindu, Sun, Nov 08, 2009
Citizens brave weather to protest against underpass The Hindu, Nov 08
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/08/stories/2009110861910300.htm
Ire against project: Members of the Save Bangalore Committee and residents of Basavanagudi protesting against the construction of the underpass at the Tagore Circle in Bangalore on Saturday. - The Hindu, Sun, Nov 08, 2009

South Bangalore is the biggest residential locality in Asia
'Public express dissent over 'undemocratic BBMP'
Tagore Circle was dug up overnight, say protesters
'Despite opposition BBMP went ahead with the project'

Undeterred by the rain and the oncoming traffic, members of the Save Bangalore Committee and several other concerned citizens and organisations lined up at the Rabindranath Tagore Circle in Basavanagudi to condemn the decision of the "dictatorial Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)" of constructing the underpass at this location.

Demand

Over a 150 people carrying banners of dissent against the BBMP, demanded that their questions be addressed before the work continued.

Angry protesters alleged that it smacked of sheer arrogance on the BBMP Commissioner's part to say he would continue with the underpass despite public opposition. They unanimously rubbished all claims that 10,000 vehicles passed by the circle every day, and alleged that this was BBMP at its "opportunistic best", using taxpayer's money.

"We have not had BBMP elections in years, and therefore have no councillors," said Prakash Belawadi, filmmaker and journalist, who was at the protest. "It means that the commissioner has to be even more sensitive towards public sentiment; instead he shows no regard for people's opinion," he said.

According to Mr. Belawadi, apart from the underpass project being "unwarranted", it was also destroying an area of great significance. "Gandhi Bazaar is right here; the circle is named after a great writer, there is a history behind this place," he said, and added that this was a "travesty of the public mandate".

Others alleged that the other BBMP projects had been executed over indefinite periods, but Tagore Circle was dug up overnight, making them wonder what the "agenda could have been".

Opposed

The former mayor M. Ramachandrappa said that despite steady opposition for two years, the BBMP had decided to go ahead with the project.

"They are carrying out so many projects in and around the city without public consent; this project must be stopped tomorrow," he said. Mr. Ramachandrappa said that since the Namma Metro project was being built with the view of easing road traffic, then what use was an underpass.

Writer R.G. Halli Nagaraj was also present. "I came to the southern part of the city because of its environment, and the BBMP has managed to damage this as well," he said.

H.G. Jayalakshmi, convener, Save Bangalore Committee, and Rajashekhar V.N., joint convener, Save Bangalore Committee, said that they were going to meet the BBMP Commissioner to raise their points.

Hasiru Usiru (a Green Organisation) submits petition on Tagore circle to MoUD Deccan Herald, Sun, Nov 15, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/35971/petition-tagore-circle.html
BBMP claim on vehicular movement disputed

The issue of Tagore Circle underpass was taken to the Central Government, with Hasiru Usiru, the Green Organisation submitting a petition to the Union Minister for Urban Development, Jaipal Reddy, on Saturday, Nov 14, 2009.

The underpass project has been taken up by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) at a cost Rs 22 crore.

The NGO submitted the petition to Reddy, who was in the City for the flagging off 380 buses.

The petition states: "The BBMP claims that 12,000 passenger car units (PCUs) passed through the (Tagore) Circle. Independent survey done by traffic management experts about three months ago confirmed a figure of hardly 4,500-5,000 PCUs. This is a serious intentional exaggeration to justify the huge expenditure. It is reported in the media that ACP (Traffic) has disassociated with the traffic density figures assumed by BBMP."

Reddy said that he was not for flyovers or grade separators in the City. "The flyovers (grade separators) will only cause traffic jams on it. I  have tried to keep the number of projects for grade separators to a minimal through the JnNURM," he said.

Underpass uproar has BBMP ducking Deccan Herald, Mon, Nov 09, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/34983/underpass-uproar-has-bbmp-ducking.html
Underpass uproar has BBMP ducking - Outraged by the 'unnecessary' underpass at Tagore Circle at Basavanagudi, a section of Bangaloreans vented their ire at the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Sunday, describing the civic body as an 'autocratic establishment' that thought little about people%u2019s convenience. - DH, Mon, Nov 09, 2009
People's power --Deccan Herald, Mon, Nov 09, 2009
Outraged by the 'unnecessary' underpass at Tagore Circle at Basavanagudi, a section of Bangaloreans vented their ire at the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Sunday, describing the civic body as an 'autocratic establishment' that thought little about people's convenience.

The public outcry against the construction of the underpass, which has been raging over the past two weeks, was inflamed during a joint Deccan Herald-Prajavani-organised "Janaabhipraya" which senior BBMP officials, including Commissioner B L Meena, chose not to attend despite invitations.

Present in strength at the public forum, Basavangudi residents unleashed their fury over their voices being repeatedly ignored by BBMP authorities, labelled the urban body as an autocratic establishment. Eminent playwright and activist Professor G K Govind Rao, who has been campaigning relentlessly against the dubious underpass, had harsh words for the apathetic officials and the unscientific nature of development work.

"The arrogance and dishonour showed by the BBMP officials towards the public and their opinion is summed up by the fact that none of them are even present here to hear us," Professor Govind Rao said. He likened the "development" work carried out in the City to its systematic disintegration into a large burial ground.

Other residents, too, criticised the selective definition of development given by the authorites and accused the government of meting out preferential treatment to a privileged minority, while ignoring the common man. The residents were also unanimous in their vociferous opposition to the BBMP's "autocratic" decision.

An opinion leader from the locality, T D Srinivas, gave a clarion call to the residents of Basavanagudi to continue opposing the construction of the underpass. He appealed to the residents to protest and carry out 'satyagraha' outside the residence of public officials, the BBMP head office and the Vidhana Soudha.

The residents demanded that the BBMP hold a referendum to go ahead with the project.  Basavanagudi MLA Ravi Subramanya, too, agreed that the BBMP should have sought public opinion before starting beginning work on the project.

Transparency

Those present wanted the BBMP to come clean on the utilisation of funds for the project and be transparent about the tender process.

Former Bangalore Mayor P R Ramesh said the project was approved by the Centre on the pre-condition that an elected local urban body manage the project.

"The entire project was approved by the Centre only on the condition that the matter be placed before an elected local body. According to the rulebook, any revision of expenditure in JNNURM projects warrants a need to place this before the elected council," he said.

Tagore Circle doesn't need underpass: residents Times of India -  Sun, Nov 8, 2009, 06:34am IST
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Tagore-Circle-doesnt-need-underpass-residents-/articleshow/5207849.cms
Saturday morning saw three protests at Basavanagudi. The underpass at Tagore Circle triggered two of these, led by NGOs Save Bangalore 
Committee and Hasiru Husiru
.

"The BBMP has projected a traffic density of 12,000 vehicles per hour on this road. But research by traffic experts shows it's only 5,000. We want to know why this unnecessary underpass is being constructed at a cost of Rs 19 crore," said Shobha, Save Bangalore Committee member.

Professor H G Som Sekhar Rao, Kiran Nagaraj from Bangalore University and H G Jayalakshmi, secretary, AIMSS, took part in the protests and expressed concern for the area's ecology.

Hasiru Husiru brought together residents and vendors and staged a protest in front of Basavanagudi Club
. They urged the BBMP to stop construction of the underpass immediately.

The National Federation of Indian Women protested against a corrupt BBMP official in front of his residence in Basavangudi.

BBMP encounters more problems
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/34811/bbmp-encounters-more-problems.html
Deccan Herald, Sun, Nov 07, 2009
Deccan Herald, Sun, Nov 08, 2009
Residents protest
Braving rains, a large number of residents of Basavanagudi staged a demonstration at the construction site on Saturday.

The activists of Save Gandhi Bazaar movement and the Save Bangalore movement shouted slogans against the BBMP for being indifferent to people's voice and for chopping trees to make way for costly infrastructure projects.

Eminent playwright, H G Somashekar asserted that despite BBMP's claims, it was true that the civic agency had started the project without informing the people. Retired Bangalore University professor, K M Nagaraj, termed it as a 'conspiracy against the historic layout of Basavanagudi'. He remarked that with the way the City was being planned, not a single tree would remain in Basavanagudi and Bangalore. He wanted the bureaucrats to stay away from taking decisions in a haste unless BBMP was replaced by an elected body. The residents also expressed their apprehensions over the timely completion of the project, now that a rock has been found midway.

Demand for more transparency on Tagore Circle project The Hindu, Thu, Nov 05, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/05/stories/2009110559500300.htm
CONTROVERSIAL: The underpass work in progress at Tagore Circle which critics say is unwarranted. - The Hindu, Thu, Nov 05, 2009
CONTROVERSIAL: The underpass work in progress at Tagore Circle which critics say is unwarranted. -The Hindu, Thu, Nov 05, 2009

B.K. Chandrashekhar charges authorities with ignoring public concerns

The former Legislative Council Chairman B.K. Chandrashekhar on Wednesday said the "absolute secrecy" in which the Tagore Circle underpass at Basavanagudi is being undertaken gives rise to many doubts. "Something mysterious is happening and people should know who the mysterious persons behind this project are," he said.

He was speaking to reporters after inspecting the proposed underpass worksite along with traffic expert and ABIDe member M.N. Sreehari, the former Mayor P.R. Ramesh and the former bureaucrat Y.K. Muddukrishna. Neither the public nor the people's representatives were consulted before the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commenced the project without any notice, Prof. Chandrashekhar said.

'Impropriety'

Prof. Chandrashekhar said the Government too was indifferent and had stopped responding to public concerns, referring to various issues of public importance, including the Namma Metro.

"BBMP claims that the Tagore Circle witnesses 12,000 passenger car units (PCU) per hour. I challenge this estimate and ask BBMP to come out with the agency which had conducted the survey."

If the situation was that compelling, a magic box underpass connecting B.P. Wadia Road and Bugle Rock Road (towards Gandhi Bazar) would have been sufficient.

Deluge of projects

Prof. Sreehari said although none of the roads or intersections in Basavanagudi see more than 6,000 PCU per hour, major infrastructure projects are thrust upon this serene locality.

While the PCU at Tagore Circle was 4,500, it was 5,600 at Ramakrishna Math Circle where a grade separator had earlier been planned and the PCU was just 2,750 on the National College Flyover, another already completed controversial project.

"Most of the roads within the city are not suitable for construction of flyovers or grade separators: these should be built on ring roads. Multi-layer flyovers in cities, namely Bangkok and Los Angeles, have failed to solve traffic woes and in fact Los Angeles is thinking of pulling down all the flyovers," Prof. Sreehari said.

Mr. Ramesh said the underpass should not have been taken up just because it had been sanctioned under JNNURM.

Although the project was sanctioned in 2006, why did the BBMP keep quiet all these days only to wake up all of a sudden, he asked.

Before undertaking the project, the present traffic situation in the area, particularly with the advent of Namma Metro, should have been studied.

Flyovers, underpasses create new problems for road users The Hindu, Tuesday, Nov 03, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/03/stories/2009110358890300.htm 

BANGALORE: Projects such as the Richmond Circle flyover and rotary system at K.R. Circle, instead of easing traffic problems, have become a bane for the city's traffic managers. While the absence of a long-term strategy has been blamed for these ills, political interference, ignoring advice from traffic experts and lack of coordination between the agencies are said to be the other reasons.

The proposed underpass at Tagore Circle in Basavanagudi that has raised a storm is threatening to join the long list of projects that have failed to provide expected results. While the project was approved in 2006, the police say they have nothing to do with it, blaming it on lack of coordination between the implementing agencies.

Political pressure

"The flyovers in Basavanagudi were conceived and pushed by politicians without seeking advice from experts. While the proposed flyover at Ramakrishna Ashram has been scrapped, the National College flyover has not really helped. Tagore Circle threatens to become another infrastructure eyesore in the city," a leading traffic expert told The Hindu.

The introduction of rotary system to make K.R. Circle, Bangalore a signal-free junction is an example of how an agency moved ahead despite opposition from the traffic police and experts
. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) decided to remove the traffic signal at K.R. Circle and introduced rotary system much to the chagrin of experts, and today it has emerged as one of the dangerous junctions in the city.

"There is no performance evaluation of the projects. Flyover and grade separators have been initiated without adequate geometry. By the time the project is completed it fails to fulfil the original aims," Abide member M.N. Sreehari said.

Many major projects were not satisfactory in terms of feasibility, viability and convenience
. They were also not integrated with the long-term vision, he said.

Planners trample on pedestrian safety The Hindu, Tuesday, November 03, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/03/stories/2009110359810300.htm
SAFETY IN NUMBERS: Schoolchildren struggle to cross the road to reach their buses to go home. - The Hindu Tue, Nov 03, 2009
SAFETY IN NUMBERS: Schoolchildren struggle to cross the road to reach their buses to go home. - The Hindu Tue, Nov 03, 2009

Badly lit, dingy and unsafe - that is how many describe the pedestrian subways
that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has constructed in many places in the city.

Traffic experts have for long been crying themselves hoarse over the disappearance of footpaths and poor pedestrian safety. Statistics show that more than 40 per cent of those killed annually in the Bangalore city are pedestrians.

Though the BBMP has constructed many pedestrian subways and skywalks, several kilometres of footpaths have disappeared either due to encroachments or road widening
.

B. Radhamma, a retired employee of HAL, said that it is almost impossible to walk in the city these days. "The footpaths, wherever they still exist, are not levelled. So, we are forced to walk on the road. However, with vehicles being parked sometimes on both sides of the roads, pedestrians are at risk of being run over," she said.

Utter disregard

Traffic experts maintained that the BBMP has no regard for the safety of pedestrians. M.N. Sreehari, adviser to the State Government and member of Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe), said that every road should have at least 1.5 metre (05 feet) wide footpath that can take up to 800 pedestrians per hour.

In places with commercial establishments and market places, the width of the footpath should be at least three metres or 13 feet
.

The footpaths must also be levelled, free of obstructions and encroachments, adequately illuminated and barricaded for pedestrian safety, he said.

"But the footpaths in the city are neglected. The BBMP's skywalks and pedestrian subways are constructed only for revenue and not for pedestrian safety," he added.

Stop work - ''Fund projects that will ease congestion'' Deccan Herald, Nov 02, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/33643/stop-work.html 

The spontaneous public outcry against the planned underpass at Rabindranath Tagore circle in Bangalore south is symptomatic of the frustration the citizens feel at the callous and cavalier manner in which the civic authorities function.

The unprecedented growth and burgeoning traffic have been posing innumerable challenges to urban planners and civic bodies in Bangalore.

The problem has to be tackled with a holistic approach with the help of experts in various fields and after taking the local residents into confidence.

But as the controversy surrounding the Tagore circle underpass shows, the hide-bound officials of BBMP have -- not for the first time -- taken an arbitrary decision with scant regard either for experts' views or public opinion.

From all the reactions over the last few days, it has emerged that the BBMP, almost secretly, prepared the ground for spending around Rs 20 crore on an underpass which serves no purpose other than enriching some contractors and, perhaps, lining the pockets of unscrupulous officials.

The project, shelved three years ago following public protests, has been revived suddenly
, even without consulting other agencies like the BWSSB and the telephones department, whose infrastructure lies underneath the road and who have to make alternative arrangements
.

The work taken up in the last few days and now temporarily halted have already thrown the lives of thousands of people and commuters out of gear, and the fear is that this unwanted monster will end up being one among many wasteful projects in the City
.

The  silence of the BBMP commissioner and Bangalore in-charge minister over the irrationality of taking up the project is baffling and they need to not only immediately intervene and halt its execution but punish those responsible for clandestinely clearing it
.

If the underpass at Tagore circle or the one completed at Malleshwaram or the flyover at National College junction are some of the instances of wasteful and mindless expenditure, the BBMP and the government would do well to draw up their priorities right and use the available funds on projects which will ease Bangalore's congestion
.

The traffic bottlenecks at Wilson Garden or Minerva Circle, for instance, are crying for solution and that's where the money needs to be spent. Let the government constitute an experts committee to study the infrastructure requirements of the City and execute the plans according to its recommendations.

Despite negative feedback from public BBMP to go ahead with Tagore Circle underpass work Deccan Herald, Nov 02, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/33936/bbmp-go-ahead-tagore-circle.html 

Despite strong opposition from the ruling party MLAs and the local residents, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has decided to go ahead with its proposed Tagore Circle underpass project.

Talking to Deccan Herald, the Palike Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena said the project would not be stopped.

The Commissioner said the Underpass is not contructed for the convenience of the local residents of Basavanagudi but for those who cover a long distance
. He added that infrastructure projects are taken up keeping the future in mind.

What people say...

The underpass is a complete waste of the taxpayers' money
.  The congestion at the intersection is mainly due to the totally illogical pattern of traffic flow enforced by the traffic police under the National College flyover. The authorities should first try alternative solutions to ease traffic congestion before embarking on projects that destroy the tree-lined avenues of Bangalore.
- S V Vijayakumar, Visveswarapuram

Public ire against project grows The Hindu, Friday, Oct 30, 2009
http://www.thehindu.com/2009/10/30/stories/2009103059050300.htm
FIRST HAND INFORMATION: A. Ravindra, Adviser to Chief Minister, inspecting the underpass work near Tagore Circle at Basavanagudi in Bangalore on Thursday. - The Hindu, Fri, Oct 30, 2009
FIRST HAND INFORMATION: A. Ravindra, Adviser to Chief Minister, inspecting the underpass work near Tagore Circle at Basavanagudi in Bangalore on Thursday. -The Hindu, Fri, Oct 30, 2009

Even as public opinion against the ongoing construction of the underpass at Rabindranath Tagore Circle in Basavanagudi is mounting, traffic experts too maintain that the traffic volume at the circle did not warrant the construction of the underpass.

M.N. Sreehari, traffic expert and member of Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe), said the underpass was not required at the junction because of the low passenger car unit (PCU) per hour. "An underpass would have been necessary if the PCU was over 10,000. However, at Tagore Circle, the PCU is just 4,750."

He said that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which has taken up the underpass construction under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, should instead look at easing congestion at busy junctions in the city, such as Peenya Circle, Shivananda Circle, South End Circle, N.R. Circle and Ring Road junctions.

No details

A member of the State Government's Technical Advisory Committee claimed that the project details had not been submitted to the committee
. "The committee members met on Thursday and many were not aware of the underpass construction. Top traffic officials claimed at the meeting that they were in the dark and came to know of the project only after the civic authority took up the work on Sunday," the member said.

Residents of Basavanagudi are up in arms over the project
.

Krishna Murthy, proprietor of M.S.R. Service Station, said that the face of Basavanagudi had changed for the worse. "With the ongoing metro work on R.V. Road and National High School Road and the current underpass construction at Tagore Circle, the character of the historical locality is under threat. The density of traffic on this road does not warrant an underpass," he said.

Mohan Adiga, manager of Trupti Upahaar, opposite Basavanagudi Police Station, alleged that the underpass construction was a waste of public funds. "This project is as useless as the National College flyover. It was first proposed a few years ago and was dropped soon after due to stiff public opposition. We do not know why the project has been taken up now," he said.

A resident of Garuthman Park in Basavanagudi said that if vehicular movement was diverted onto the National College Flyover, there would be no necessity for the underpass at Tagore Circle. "The civic authorities seem to have taken up this project only to ensure that the funds sanctioned under JNNURM do not lapse. There is no signal at the circle and traffic density is a little high only during the peak hours," he maintained.

Tagore Circle underpass work suspended Deccan Herald, Oct 30, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/33402/tagore-circle-underpass-work-suspended.html 

State Government advisor on traffic, transport and infrastructure M N Srihari strongly opposed the project.

"I feel this underpass is not at all required. Based on traffic flow, even after five years we may not require it. If this underpass comes up then its status would be similar to the flyover near the National College, which is hardly used,"  Srihari told Deccan Herald.

Bogus data

Srihari also described as "bogus," the so-called statistics of 12,000-odd passenger car units (PCUs) at Tagore Circle.

"For infrastructure projects such as underpasses and flyovers built under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, the basic need is that passenger car units must be around 10,000. At Tagore Circle, PCUs are hardly 4,500 to 5,000," Srihari said.

BBMP: city police wanted interchange at Tagore Circle  The Hindu, Sat, Nov 07, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/07/stories/2009110761500300.htm 

ACP (Traffic) denies writing to corporation The Hindu, Sun, Nov 08 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/08/stories/2009110861930300.htm 

After Basavanagudi underpass crisis, BBMP tech committee strikes out
http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/view/1516-bbmp-tagore-underpass--technical-committee
Scene at the Tagore Circle underpass. Pic: Supreet S, Nikhil B N. - Citizen Matters, Bangalore
Scene at the Tagore Circle underpass. Pic: Supreet S, Nikhil B N. - Citizen Matters, Bangalore Nov 06, 2009
http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/view/1516-bbmp-tagore-underpass--technical-committee?page=2
Earth moving equipment lined up for work near the closed road. Pic: Supreet S, Nikhil B N.
Earth moving equipment lined up for work near the closed road. Pic: Supreet S, Nikhil B N.
Traffic expert and member of Agenda of Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe) Task Force, Professor M N Sreehari rubbishes these numbers. "If it is 10,000 vehicles per hour, that's about 300 vehicles per minute. How is that possible? They are just trying to fool somebody. We want to know how they got these numbers. Why should they cheat people like this?", he asks. (10,000 pcus per hour translates to 166 pcus per minute.)

And if the 10,000 pcu as per the BBMP is a projected figure, five to ten years from now, Sreehari says that the project should be executed then. "Why build it now? Don't waste public money".

Dr B R Srinivasa Murthy, Former Professor at the Indian Institute of Science and Acting Chairperson of Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the BBMP says that the entire width of the road should be 33m but is currently around 27m to 28m. He also says that there should be space for footpath of 2m on either side, 0.5m for storm water drain, and 0.5m for the crash barrier.

Honey, they shrunk my footpath The Hindu, Tue, Nov 17, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/17/stories/2009111759160500.htm 

A study has found that barely 30 per cent of the roads had footpaths

Uneven, narrow, poorly designed, and full of obstructions - it appears that there is no place for pedestrians even on footpaths in the city.

Poor priority


A study on traffic and transportation policies and strategies in 30 cities, including Bangalore, taken up under the National Urban Transport Policy 2006, found that facilities for pedestrians were almost nil.

The study found that in most Indian cities, barely 30 per cent of the roads had footpaths.

The guidelines state that footpaths should be built and maintained in all urban areas and are needed on both sides of all streets
.

First casualties

K. Nagarajan of Hasiru Usiru, who has studied footpaths in the city, observed that pedestrian safety was not a priority for civic authorities.

"Footpaths are now being concretised, leaving no breathing space for trees. And, when the roads are widened, footpaths are the first casualties," he said.

The Indian Roads Congress guidelines stipulate that the minimum width of a footpath should not be less than 1.5 metres. The width should depend on pedestrian traffic, varying between 1.5 meters (5 feet) and a maximum of 4 metres (13 feet).

Footpaths make all the difference The Hindu, Sun, Nov 22, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/22/stories/2009112260561800.htm 
Enrique Penalosa - Photo: V. Ganesan 8758 bytes
Parking is not a constitutional right in any country
It's a private problem that should be solved in private spaces with private money
Bigger roads and flyovers have never never solved the problem of traffic in any city in the world
The single biggest difference between the infrastructure of an advanced nation and a backward nation is its footpaths, not its highways
A bus lane will move 40,000 people per hour
One lane of cars will transport less than 2,000 people

CHENNAI: If today's cities are a battleground between cars and people, then Enrique Penalosa is firmly on the side of those who prefer walking to wheels.

"The single biggest difference between the infrastructure of an advanced nation and a backward nation is its footpaths, not its highways," the former Mayor of the Colombian capital Bogota told The Hindu during a visit to Chennai on Thursday.

But it is the quality of the footpath that determines the quality of life in a city, - he says, pointing out that in European cities, large areas are roped off for pedestrians and a vibrant street life, while many roads have more space for walkers and cyclists than for car traffic.

In his years as Bogota Mayor
, Mr. Penalosa widened footpaths, reduced the number of cars on the roads in peak hours, created a world-class bus rapid transit system, reclaimed waterfronts for the public, and - in a move that nearly got him impeached - banned cars from parking on pavements. "Parking is not a constitutional right in any country," he says. "It's a private problem that should be solved in private spaces with private money."

Mr. Penalosa, who works with the Institute for Transportation Development and Policy, says the criticism is common, especially in developing countries where car ownership is a sign of wealth, but he points out that for reasons of equity as well as practical efficiency, pedestrians and public transport must be given priority over private car owners.

"Only 5 per cent of households in the city drive cars," he points out. Now we have an extreme scarcity of space - It would be most democratic and efficient to allocate this space in favour of the most people - for buses, cycles and pedestrians."

Apart from considerations of equality is the sheer mathematical impossibility of a city where everyone drives a car regularly
. "Bigger roads and flyovers will never solve the problem of traffic. It has never solved the problem in any city in the world," he declares.

At least every new road should include a bus lane and wide cycling paths and pavements
, he pleads. "A bus lane will move 40,000 people per hour. One lane of cars will transport less than 2,000 people. Which is more efficient?"

BBMP hid facts about Tagore Circle underpass? The Hindu, Thu, Dec 17,
http://www.hindu.com/2009/12/17/stories/2009121760670400.htm

Part of adjoining properties has to be ceded for the project
51.68 sq. mts. of land is the additional requirement of the project
52 trees must be felled for the underpass


Here is a startling revelation about the Tagore Circle underpass project in Basavanagudi that has drawn strong opposition from local residents. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), drafted in 2006, states that land acquisition from adjoining properties is mandatory for the project - a fact not revealed to residents for over three years.

Basavanagudi Boys' Middle School, MNK Park and private properties will be asked to give up portions of their land to facilitate this project. The report clearly states that 51.68 square metres is the additional requirement of the project. "The project requires over 33 metres for the width, but only 27 metres are available," M. Venkatesh, a resident of Basavanagudi, among the few to have read the DPR, told The Hindu.

Apart from this, the DPR shows that 52 trees must be felled for the underpass, five times the figure quoted by the BBMP, which had said only 10 trees will be lost, and these have already cut down.

The DPR states that "it is proposed to plant two saplings in the adjoining areas to restore the ecological balance". However, there is no mention of when the planting will begin, or which "surrounding areas" have been charted out for this.

Moreover, the DPR, prepared by Stupp Consultants, has taken into account passenger car units (PCU) for movement in 15 different directions at Tagore Circle.

M.N. Srihari, traffic expert and a member of the Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development (ABIDe) Task Force, told The Hindu as the underpass only brings traffic from K R. Road towards the National College flyover in Basavanagudi, 15 directions clearly "inflates the PCUs".

Moreover, as the DPR was prepared in 2006, "the PCUs could not have been so high" even if the aforementioned 15 directions were being taken into consideration.

Mr. Ventakesh said so many trees and precious lung spaces like the much-loved MNK Park do not have to be compromised for a project that is unnecessary in the first place. "When was the BBMP planning to inform residents about the land acquisition if the DPR was prepared three years ago?" he asked.

Gopinath C R., a resident of K R. Road, said the survey has to be authenticated by a reliable agency with public acknowledgement. "In 2004-05, four underpasses and flyovers were thrust upon Basavanagudi residents. The V.V. Road flyover, built against public opinion, has less than 30 per cent utilisation even today," he said.

Meanwhile, the work at the Tagore Circle underpass seems to have come to a standstill for over two weeks now. Residents said there has not been much progress since it began over two months ago.

BBMP officials, however, were unwilling to provide a clear reason for the stoppage. Officials, after a furious round of passing the buck to different departments, told The Hindu that "it only seems that the work had stopped" because they were in the process of coordinating with other civic utilities such as Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM).

Hurdles galore at Tagore Circle Deccan Herad, Fri, Dec 18, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/41914/hurdles-galore-tagore-circle.html 
52 trees to be axed for project
The controversial Tagore Circle underpass has risen its head once again with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) planning to cut down 52 trees in a bid to increase the width of the service roads in the area.

Following the visit of the Chief Minister's advisor on Traffic matters, Prof CEJ Justo, it is learnt that he had asked the BBMP to increase the width of the service road along Tagore Circle underpass from 3.5 meters to 5 meters.

In response to the matter of having to encroach upon M N Krishna Rao Park, the BBMP has stated that it will take possession of portions of the land if there is a need to build a bus bay in the area.

The Palike has said that there is no further addition to this alignment change in the underpass.

UNDERPASS ZONE - Bangalore - City - The Times of India Times of India, TNN 22 December 2009
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/UNDERPASS-ZONE-/articleshow/5364117.cms 
TAGORE CIRCLE UNDERPASS
One of the most controversial underpass works at Tagore Circle in Basavanagudi, under JN-NURM, has drawn the ire of residents as well as several NGOs.

Project work, with an estimated cost of Rs 19.49 crore started in October this year at the 'staggered' junction, is supposed to connect two roads at different locations on KR Road.

But the underpass has drawn wide criticism from local residents and even had people starting online petition campaigns, urging people to sign the cause to stop the work.

PIL planned against Tagore Circle underpass Deccan Herald April 18 2010
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/64650/pil-planned-against-tagore-circle.html
Trees felled for the underpass
Project taken up under JNNRUM entails felling of 85 trees
The opposition to construction of an underpass at Tagore Circle is all set to reach the courts now.

The residents of Krishna Rajendra Road in Basavanagudi have decided to file a Public Interest Litigation against the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike for continuing with the construction without obtaining public consent.

The underpass is being constructed under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The work, which began in October 2009, should be completed within 16 months according to the work order.

However, only 10 percent of the work has been completed even after the lapse of six months. The project also involves felling of 85 trees.

Seeking details under RTI

C R Gopinath is running from pillar to post to obtain all the relevant documents. He alleged that the BBMP had not been furnishing details relating to status of the work, despite seeking information under Right to Information Act.

The residents have been bearing the brunt of the delayed work and have decided not to complain about it. "If I complain then I am accepting the project, which in the first place I do not want any underpass to be constructed here," added Gopinath.

Sumathy Narendra, another resident, termed the construction "meaningless" and "at the cost of public convenience." She felt that politicians had been blindly giving their consent to the decisions of the bureaucrats.

"It is a lobby run by vested interests. There is absolutely no accountability in spending public money," she said. The Tagore Circle underpass has not been opposed by residents alone. Some top government officials had written letters objecting to the 'unnecessary underpass'.

The BBMP, on the other hand, is gearing up to finish the work at the earliest.
According to officials, the work will be extended towards the other side of the road in the next few days.

An official said the retaining wall on the Police Station side had been completed and the work would now shift to centre of the road.

Conclusion
01) Bangalore is one of the 59 cities to which Ministry of Urban Development or MoUD has sanctioned grants for public transport buses. This grant is linked to conditional reforms in the transport sector in cities that includes higher taxes on private cars, dedicated funds for public transport, parking policy as a car restrain measure and bus sector reforms. How and in what way is it going to be implemented / enforced in Bangalore city and Karnataka?

02) A couple of months ago the Hon'ble Union Minister of Urban Development Mr. Jaipal Reddy had warned all the states availing JNNURM funds that they'd be stopped if right of pedestrians and cyclists are not taken care of while utilizing JNNURM funds. Why have the authorities concerned in Karnataka not taken this seriously?

3) Trees are being chopped in Bangalore City to make way for costly infrastructure projects. The authorities are embarking on projects that are destroying the tree-lined or tree canopied broad/wide avenues / roads of Bangalore. With the way the City was being planned, not a single tree would remain in Basavanagudi and Bangalore.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This petition's been addressed to the Hon'ble Supreme Court, President, Prime Minister or PM, Union Ministry of Urban Development or MoUD, Governor / Guv, Chief Minister or CM, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike or BBMP and Bangalore Development Authority or BDA.

Last Update: Monday, April 19, 2010
http://www.petitiononline.com/underpas/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-pedestrian-infrastructure
PIL planned against Tagore Circle underpass Deccan Herald April 18 2010
Footpaths make all the difference The Hindu, Sun, Nov 22, 2009
Demand for more transparency on Tagore Circle project The Hindu, Thu, Nov 05, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/05/stories/2009110559500300.htm 

The "absolute secrecy" in which the Tagore Circle underpass at Basavanagudi is being undertaken  by ignoring public concerns gives rise to many doubts.
Something mysterious is happening and people should know who the mysterious persons behind this project are.
Neither the public nor the people's representatives were consulted before the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commenced the project without any notice.
The Government too was indifferent and had stopped responding to public concerns, to various issues of public importance, including the Namma Metro.
BBMP claims that the Tagore Circle witnesses 12,000 passenger car units (PCU) per hour.
I challenge this estimate and ask BBMP to come out with the agency which had conducted the survey.
If the situation was that compelling, a magic box underpass connecting B.P. Wadia Road and Bugle Rock Road (towards Gandhi Bazar) would have been sufficient.
-Prof. B.K. Chandrashekhar, Former Legislative Council Chairman to The Hindu

Deluge of projects
Although none of the roads or intersections in Basavanagudi see more than 6,000 PCU per hour, major infrastructure projects are thrust upon this serene locality.
While the PCU at Tagore Circle was 4,500, it was 5,600 at Ramakrishna Math Circle where a grade separator had earlier been planned and the PCU was just 2,750 on the National College Flyover, another already completed controversial project.
Most of the roads within the city are not suitable for construction of flyovers or grade separators: these should be built on ring roads.
Multi-layer flyovers in cities, namely Bangkok and Los Angeles, have failed to solve traffic woes and in fact Los Angeles is thinking of pulling down all the flyovers.
-Prof. Sreehari, Traffic expert and Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development or ABIDe member to The Hindu

Flyovers, underpasses create new problems for road users The Hindu, Tuesday, Nov 03, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/03/stories/2009110358890300.htm 

Projects instead of easing traffic problems, have become a bane for the city's traffic managers because of political interference, ignoring advice from traffic experts and lack of coordination between the agencies.

The proposed underpass at Tagore Circle in Basavanagudi that has raised a storm is threatening to join the long list of projects that have failed to provide expected results. While the project was approved in 2006, the police say they have nothing to do with it, blaming it on lack of coordination between the implementing agencies.

Tagore Circle threatens to become another infrastructure eyesore in the city. There is no performance evaluation of the projects.
Many major projects were not satisfactory in terms of feasibility, viability and convenience. They were also not integrated with the long-term vision.
-Prof. Sreehari, Traffic expert and Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development or ABIDe member to The Hindu

Stop work - ''Fund projects that will ease congestion'' Deccan Herald, Nov 02, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/33643/stop-work.html 

The spontaneous public outcry against the planned underpass at Rabindranath Tagore circle in Bangalore south is symptomatic of the frustration the citizens feel at the callous and cavalier manner in which the civic authorities function.

The unprecedented growth and burgeoning traffic have been posing innumerable challenges to urban planners and civic bodies in Bangalore.

The problem has to be tackled with a holistic approach with the help of experts in various fields and after taking the local residents into confidence.

But as the controversy surrounding the Tagore circle underpass shows, the hide-bound officials of BBMP have -- not for the first time -- taken an arbitrary decision with scant regard either for experts' views or public opinion.

From all the reactions over the last few days, it has emerged that the BBMP, almost secretly, prepared the ground for spending around Rs 20 crore on an underpass which serves no purpose other than enriching some contractors and, perhaps, lining the pockets of unscrupulous officials.

The project, shelved three years ago following public protests, has been revived suddenly
, even without consulting other agencies like the BWSSB and the telephones department, whose infrastructure lies underneath the road and who have to make alternative arrangements
.

The work taken up in the last few days and now temporarily halted have already thrown the lives of thousands of people and commuters out of gear, and the fear is that this unwanted monster will end up being one among many wasteful projects in the City
.

The  silence of the BBMP commissioner and Bangalore in-charge minister over the irrationality of taking up the project is baffling and they need to not only immediately intervene and halt its execution but punish those responsible for clandestinely clearing it
.

If the underpass at Tagore circle or the one completed at Malleshwaram or the flyover at National College junction are some of the instances of wasteful and mindless expenditure, the BBMP and the government would do well to draw up their priorities right and use the available funds on projects which will ease Bangalore's congestion
.

The traffic bottlenecks at Wilson Garden or Minerva Circle, for instance, are crying for solution and that's where the money needs to be spent.

Let the government constitute an experts committee to study the infrastructure requirements of the City and execute the plans according to its recommendations
.
-Deccan Herald Editorial

Public ire against project grows The Hindu, Friday, Oct 30, 2009
http://www.thehindu.com/2009/10/30/stories/2009103059050300.htm 

Even as public opinion against the ongoing construction of the underpass at Rabindranath Tagore Circle in Basavanagudi is mounting, traffic experts too maintain that the traffic volume at the circle did not warrant the construction of the underpass.

The underpass was not required at the junction because of the low passenger car unit (PCU) per hour.
An underpass would have been necessary if the PCU was over 10,000. However, at Tagore Circle, the PCU is just 4,750.
The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which has taken up the underpass construction under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, should instead look at easing congestion at busy junctions in the city, such as Peenya Circle, Shivananda Circle, South End Circle, N.R. Circle and Ring Road junctions.
-Prof. Sreehari, Traffic expert and Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development or ABIDe member to Deccan Herald

No details

A member of the State Government's Technical Advisory Committee claimed that the project details had not been submitted to the committee.
"The committee members met on Thursday and many were not aware of the underpass construction. Top traffic officials claimed at the meeting that they were in the dark and came to know of the project only after the civic authority took up the work on Sunday," the member said.

Residents of Basavanagudi are up in arms over the project
.

The face of Basavanagudi had changed for the worse
.
With the ongoing metro work on R.V. Road and National High School Road and the current underpass construction at Tagore Circle, the character of the historical locality is under threat.
The density of traffic on this road does not warrant an underpass.
-Krishna Murthy, Proprietor of M.S.R. Service Station

The underpass construction was a waste of public funds. This project is as useless as the National College flyover.
It was first proposed a few years ago and was dropped soon after due to stiff public opposition. We do not know why the project has been taken up now.
-Mohan Adiga, Manager of Trupti Upahaar, Opposite Basavanagudi Police Station

If vehicular movement was diverted onto the National College Flyover, there would be no necessity for the underpass at Tagore Circle. The civic authorities seem to have taken up this project only to ensure that the funds sanctioned under JNNURM do not lapse.
There is no signal at the circle and traffic density is a little high only during the peak hours.
-A resident of Garuthman Park in Basavanagudi

Despite negative feedback from public BBMP to go ahead with Tagore Circle underpass work Deccan Herald, Nov 02, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/33936/bbmp-go-ahead-tagore-circle.html 

Despite strong opposition from the ruling party MLAs and the local residents, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has decided to go ahead with its proposed Tagore Circle underpass project.

Talking to Deccan Herald, the Palike Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena said the project would not be stopped.

The Commissioner said the Underpass is not contructed for the convenience of the local residents of Basavanagudi but for those who cover a long distance
. He added that infrastructure projects are taken up keeping the future in mind.

What people say...
The underpass is a complete waste of the taxpayers' money.
The congestion at the intersection is mainly due to the totally illogical pattern of traffic flow enforced by the traffic police under the National College flyover.
The authorities should first try alternative solutions to ease traffic congestion before embarking on projects that destroy the tree-lined avenues of Bangalore.
- S V Vijayakumar, Visveswarapuram

Tagore Circle underpass work suspended Deccan Herald, Oct 30, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/33402/tagore-circle-underpass-work-suspended.html 

State Government advisor on traffic, transport and infrastructure M N Srihari strongly opposed the project.

I feel this underpass is not at all required. Based on traffic flow, even after five years we may not require it.
If this underpass comes up then its status would be similar to the flyover near the National College, which is hardly used
.
Bogus data
The so-called statistics of 12,000-odd passenger car units (PCUs) at Tagore Circle is bogus data.
For infrastructure projects such as underpasses and flyovers built under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, the basic need is that passenger car units must be around 10,000. At Tagore Circle, PCUs are hardly 4,500 to 5,000.
-Prof. Sreehari, Traffic expert and Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development or ABIDe member to Deccan Herald

After Basavanagudi underpass crisis, BBMP tech committee strikes out
http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/view/1516-bbmp-tagore-underpass--technical-committee

If it is 10,000 vehicles per hour, that's about 300 vehicles per minute. How is that possible? They are just trying to fool somebody. We want to know how they got these numbers. Why should they cheat people like this? (10,000 pcus per hour translates to 166 pcus per minute.)
And if the 10,000 pcu as per the BBMP is a projected figure, five to ten years from now, the project should be executed then. Why build it now? Don't waste public money.
-Professor M N Sreehari,Traffic expert and member of Agenda of Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe) Task Force to Citizen Matters

The entire width of the road should be 33m but is currently around 27m to 28m. He also says that there should be space for footpath of 2m on either side, 0.5m for storm water drain, and 0.5m for the crash barrier.
-Dr B R Srinivasa Murthy, Former Professor at the Indian Institute of Science and Acting Chairperson of Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the BBMP to Citizen Matters

Citizens brave weather to protest against underpass The Hindu, Nov 08
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/08/stories/2009110861910300.htm
'Public express dissent over %u2018undemocratic BBMP'
Tagore Circle was dug up overnight, say protesters
'Despite opposition BBMP went ahead with the project'

We condemn the decision of the "dictatorial Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)" of constructing the underpass at this location.
It smacked of sheer arrogance on the BBMP Commissioner's part to say he would continue with the underpass despite public opposition.
All claims that 10,000 vehicles passed by the circle every day was rubbish, and this is/was BBMP at its "opportunistic best", using taxpayer's money.
-Members of the Save Bangalore Committee and several other concerned citizens and organisations lined up at the Rabindranath Tagore Circle in Basavanagudi on Sat, Nov 07, 2009

We have not had BBMP elections in years, and therefore have no councillors.
It means that the commissioner has to be even more sensitive towards public sentiment; instead he shows no regard for people's opinion.
Apart from the underpass project being "unwarranted", it was also destroying an area of great significance.  Gandhi Bazaar is right here; the circle is named after a great writer, there is a history behind this place, and this was a "travesty of the public mandate".
-Prakash Belawadi, filmmaker and journalist, who was at the protest

The other BBMP projects had been executed over indefinite periods, but Tagore Circle was dug up overnight, making them wonder what the "agenda could have been".
-Others

Despite steady opposition for two years, the BBMP had decided to go ahead with the project
.
They are carrying out so many projects in and around the city without public consent; this project must be stopped tomorrow.
Since the Namma Metro project was being built with the view of easing road traffic, then what use was an underpass.
-Former mayor M. Ramachandrappa

I came to the southern part of the city because of its environment, and the BBMP has managed to damage this as well.
-Writer R.G. Halli Nagaraj at the protest

BBMP encounters more problems
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/34811/bbmp-encounters-more-problems.html Deccan Herald, Sun, Nov 08, 2009
Residents protest
Braving rains, a large number of residents of Basavanagudi staged a demonstration at the construction site on Saturday.

The activists of Save Gandhi Bazaar movement and the Save Bangalore movement shouted slogans against the BBMP for being indifferent to people's voice and for chopping trees to make way for costly infrastructure projects.
Despite BBMP's claims, it was true that the civic agency had started the project without informing the people.
- Eminent playwright, H G Somashekar's assertion

It is a 'conspiracy against the historic layout of Basavanagudi'. With the way the City was being planned, not a single tree would remain in Basavanagudi and Bangalore.
Bureaucrats should/must stay away from taking decisions in a haste unless BBMP was replaced by an elected body.
-Retired Bangalore University professor, K M Nagaraj

Tagore Circle doesn't need underpass: residents Times of India -  Sun, Nov 8, 2009, 06:34am IST
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Tagore-Circle-doesnt-need-underpass-residents-/articleshow/5207849.cms
Saturday morning saw three protests at Basavanagudi. The underpass at Tagore Circle triggered two of these, led by NGOs Save Bangalore 
Committee and Hasiru Husiru
.

"The BBMP has projected a traffic density of 12,000 vehicles per hour on this road. But research by traffic experts shows it's only 5,000. We want to know why this unnecessary underpass is being constructed at a cost of Rs 19 crore," said Shobha, Save Bangalore Committee member.

Professor H G Som Sekhar Rao, Kiran Nagaraj from Bangalore University and H G Jayalakshmi, secretary, AIMSS, took part in the protests and expressed concern for the area's ecology.

Hasiru Husiru brought together residents and vendors and staged a protest in front of Basavanagudi Club
. They urged the BBMP to stop construction of the underpass immediately.

Underpass uproar has BBMP ducking Deccan Herald, Mon, Nov 09, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/34983/underpass-uproar-has-bbmp-ducking.html 
People's power --Deccan Herald, Mon, Nov 09, 2009
Outraged by the 'unnecessary' underpass at Tagore Circle at Basavanagudi, a section of Bangaloreans vented their ire at the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Sunday, describing the civic body as an 'autocratic establishment' that thought little about people's convenience.

The public outcry against the construction of the underpass, which has been raging over the past two weeks, was inflamed during a joint Deccan Herald-Prajavani-organised "Janaabhipraya" which senior BBMP officials, including Commissioner B L Meena, chose not to attend despite invitations.

Present in strength at the public forum, Basavangudi residents unleashed their fury over their voices being repeatedly ignored by BBMP authorities, labelled the urban body as an autocratic establishment. Eminent playwright and activist Professor G K Govind Rao, who has been campaigning relentlessly against the dubious underpass, had harsh words for the apathetic officials and the unscientific nature of development work.

The arrogance and dishonour showed by the BBMP officials towards the public and their opinion is summed up by the fact that none of them are even present here to hear us.
-Eminent playwright and activist Professor G K Govind Rao
He likened the "development" work carried out in the City to its systematic disintegration into a large burial ground.

Other residents, too, criticised the selective definition of development given by the authorites and accused the government of meting out preferential treatment to a privileged minority, while ignoring the common man. The residents were also unanimous in their vociferous opposition to the BBMP's "autocratic" decision.

An opinion leader from the locality, T D Srinivas, gave a clarion call to the residents of Basavanagudi to continue opposing the construction of the underpass. He appealed to the residents to protest and carry out 'satyagraha' outside the residence of public officials, the BBMP head office and the Vidhana Soudha.

The residents demanded that the BBMP hold a referendum to go ahead with the project.  Basavanagudi MLA Ravi Subramanya, too, agreed that the BBMP should have sought public opinion before starting beginning work on the project.

Transparency

Those present wanted the BBMP to come clean on the utilisation of funds for the project and be transparent about the tender process.

The project was approved by the Centre on the pre-condition that an elected local urban body manage the project.
"The entire project was approved by the Centre only on the condition that the matter be placed before an elected local body. According to the rulebook, any revision of expenditure in JNNURM projects warrants a need to place this before the elected council.
-Former Bangalore Mayor P R Ramesh

Hasiru Usiru (a Green Organisation) submits petition on Tagore circle to MoUD Deccan Herald, Sun, Nov 15, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/35971/petition-tagore-circle.html
BBMP claim on vehicular movement disputed

The issue of Tagore Circle underpass was taken to the Central Government, with Hasiru Usiru, the Green Organisation submitting a petition to the Union Minister for Urban Development, Jaipal Reddy, on Saturday, Nov 14, 2009.

The underpass project has been taken up by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) at a cost Rs 22 crore.

The NGO submitted the petition to Reddy, who was in the City for the flagging off 380 buses.

The petition states: "The BBMP claims that 12,000 passenger car units (PCUs) passed through the (Tagore) Circle. Independent survey done by traffic management experts about three months ago confirmed a figure of hardly 4,500-5,000 PCUs. This is a serious intentional exaggeration to justify the huge expenditure. It is reported in the media that ACP (Traffic) has disassociated with the traffic density figures assumed by BBMP."

Reddy said that he was not for flyovers or grade separators in the City. "The flyovers (grade separators) will only cause traffic jams on it. I  have tried to keep the number of projects for grade separators to a minimal through the JnNURM," he said.

Footpaths make all the difference The Hindu, Sun, Nov 22, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/22/stories/2009112260561800.htm 
Enrique Penalosa - Photo: V. Ganesan 8758 bytes
Parking is not a constitutional right in any country
It's a private problem that should be solved in private spaces with private money
Bigger roads and flyovers have never never solved the problem of traffic in any city in the world
The single biggest difference between the infrastructure of an advanced nation and a backward nation is its footpaths, not its highways
A bus lane will move 40,000 people per hour
One lane of cars will transport less than 2,000 people

CHENNAI: If today's cities are a battleground between cars and people, then Enrique Penalosa is firmly on the side of those who prefer walking to wheels.

"The single biggest difference between the infrastructure of an advanced nation and a backward nation is its footpaths, not its highways," the former Mayor of the Colombian capital Bogota told The Hindu during a visit to Chennai on Thursday.

But it is the quality of the footpath that determines the quality of life in a city, - he says, pointing out that in European cities, large areas are roped off for pedestrians and a vibrant street life, while many roads have more space for walkers and cyclists than for car traffic.

In his years as Bogota Mayor
, Mr. Penalosa widened footpaths, reduced the number of cars on the roads in peak hours, created a world-class bus rapid transit system, reclaimed waterfronts for the public, and - in a move that nearly got him impeached - banned cars from parking on pavements. "Parking is not a constitutional right in any country," he says. "It's a private problem that should be solved in private spaces with private money."

Mr. Penalosa, who works with the Institute for Transportation Development and Policy, says the criticism is common, especially in developing countries where car ownership is a sign of wealth, but he points out that for reasons of equity as well as practical efficiency, pedestrians and public transport must be given priority over private car owners.

"Only 5 per cent of households in the city drive cars," he points out. Now we have an extreme scarcity of space - It would be most democratic and efficient to allocate this space in favour of the most people - for buses, cycles and pedestrians."

Apart from considerations of equality is the sheer mathematical impossibility of a city where everyone drives a car regularly
. "Bigger roads and flyovers will never solve the problem of traffic. It has never solved the problem in any city in the world," he declares.

At least every new road should include a bus lane and wide cycling paths and pavements
, he pleads. "A bus lane will move 40,000 people per hour. One lane of cars will transport less than 2,000 people. Which is more efficient?"

BBMP hid facts about Tagore Circle underpass? The Hindu, Thu, Dec 17,
http://www.hindu.com/2009/12/17/stories/2009121760670400.htm

Part of adjoining properties has to be ceded for the project
51.68 sq. mts. of land is the additional requirement of the project
52 trees must be felled for the underpass


Here is a startling revelation about the Tagore Circle underpass project in Basavanagudi that has drawn strong opposition from local residents. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), drafted in 2006, states that land acquisition from adjoining properties is mandatory for the project - a fact not revealed to residents for over three years.

Basavanagudi Boys' Middle School, MNK Park and private properties will be asked to give up portions of their land to facilitate this project. The report clearly states that 51.68 square metres is the additional requirement of the project. "The project requires over 33 metres for the width, but only 27 metres are available," M. Venkatesh, a resident of Basavanagudi, among the few to have read the DPR, told The Hindu.

Apart from this, the DPR shows that 52 trees must be felled for the underpass, five times the figure quoted by the BBMP, which had said only 10 trees will be lost, and these have already cut down.

The DPR states that "it is proposed to plant two saplings in the adjoining areas to restore the ecological balance". However, there is no mention of when the planting will begin, or which "surrounding areas" have been charted out for this.

Moreover, the DPR, prepared by Stupp Consultants, has taken into account passenger car units (PCU) for movement in 15 different directions at Tagore Circle.

M.N. Srihari, traffic expert and a member of the Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development (ABIDe) Task Force, told The Hindu as the underpass only brings traffic from K R. Road towards the National College flyover in Basavanagudi, 15 directions clearly "inflates the PCUs".

Moreover, as the DPR was prepared in 2006, "the PCUs could not have been so high" even if the aforementioned 15 directions were being taken into consideration.

Mr. Ventakesh said so many trees and precious lung spaces like the much-loved MNK Park do not have to be compromised for a project that is unnecessary in the first place. "When was the BBMP planning to inform residents about the land acquisition if the DPR was prepared three years ago?" he asked.

Gopinath C R., a resident of K R. Road, said the survey has to be authenticated by a reliable agency with public acknowledgement. "In 2004-05, four underpasses and flyovers were thrust upon Basavanagudi residents. The V.V. Road flyover, built against public opinion, has less than 30 per cent utilisation even today," he said.

Hurdles galore at Tagore Circle Deccan Herad, Fri, Dec 18, 2009
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/41914/hurdles-galore-tagore-circle.html 
52 trees to be axed for project
The controversial Tagore Circle underpass has risen its head once again with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) planning to cut down 52 trees in a bid to increase the width of the service roads in the area.

Following the visit of the Chief Minister's advisor on Traffic matters, Prof CEJ Justo, it is learnt that he had asked the BBMP to increase the width of the service road along Tagore Circle underpass from 3.5 meters to 5 meters.

In response to the matter of having to encroach upon M N Krishna Rao Park, the BBMP has stated that it will take possession of portions of the land if there is a need to build a bus bay in the area.

The Palike has said that there is no further addition to this alignment change in the underpass.

UNDERPASS ZONE - Bangalore - City - The Times of India Times of India, TNN 22 December 2009
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/UNDERPASS-ZONE-/articleshow/5364117.cms 
TAGORE CIRCLE UNDERPASS
One of the most controversial underpass works at Tagore Circle in Basavanagudi, under JN-NURM, has drawn the ire of residents as well as several NGOs.

Project work, with an estimated cost of Rs 19.49 crore started in October this year at the 'staggered' junction, is supposed to connect two roads at different locations on KR Road.

But the underpass has drawn wide criticism from local residents and even had people starting online petition campaigns, urging people to sign the cause to stop the work.

PIL planned against Tagore Circle underpass Deccan Herald April 18 2010
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/64650/pil-planned-against-tagore-circle.html 
Project taken up under JNNRUM entails felling of 85 trees
The opposition to construction of an underpass at Tagore Circle is all set to reach the courts now.

The residents of Krishna Rajendra Road in Basavanagudi have decided to file a Public Interest Litigation against the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike for continuing with the construction without obtaining public consent.

The underpass is being constructed under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The work, which began in October 2009, should be completed within 16 months according to the work order.

However, only 10 percent of the work has been completed even after the lapse of six months. The project also involves felling of 85 trees.

Seeking details under RTI


C R Gopinath is running from pillar to post to obtain all the relevant documents. He alleged that the BBMP had not been furnishing details relating to status of the work, despite seeking information under Right to Information Act.

The residents have been bearing the brunt of the delayed work and have decided not to complain about it. "If I complain then I am accepting the project, which in the first place I do not want any underpass to be constructed here," added Gopinath.

Sumathy Narendra, another resident, termed the construction "meaningless" and "at the cost of public convenience." She felt that politicians had been blindly giving their consent to the decisions of the bureaucrats.

"It is a lobby run by vested interests. There is absolutely no accountability in spending public money," she said. The Tagore Circle underpass has not been opposed by residents alone. Some top government officials had written letters objecting to the 'unnecessary underpass'.

The BBMP, on the other hand, is gearing up to finish the work at the earliest.
According to officials, the work will be extended towards the other side of the road in the next few days.

An official said the retaining wall on the Police Station side had been completed and the work would now shift to centre of the road.

Conclusion

01) Bangalore is one of the 59 cities to which Ministry of Urban Development or MoUD has sanctioned grants for public transport buses. This grant is linked to conditional reforms in the transport sector in cities that includes higher taxes on private cars, dedicated funds for public transport, parking policy as a car restrain measure and bus sector reforms. How and in what way is it going to be implemented / enforced in Bangalore city and Karnataka?

02) A couple of months ago the Hon'ble Union Minister of Urban Development Mr. Jaipal Reddy had warned all the states availing JNNURM funds that they'd be stopped if right of pedestrians and cyclists are not taken care of while utilizing JNNURM funds. Why have the authorities concerned in Karnataka not taken this seriously?

3) Trees are being chopped in Bangalore City to make way for costly infrastructure projects. The authorities are embarking on projects that are destroying the tree-lined or tree canopied broad/wide avenues / roads of Bangalore. With the way the City was being planned, not a single tree would remain in Basavanagudi and Bangalore.
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This petition's been addressed to the Hon'ble Supreme Court, President, Prime Minister or PM, Union Ministry of Urban Development or MoUD, Governor / Guv, Chief Minister or CM, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike or BBMP and Bangalore Development Authority or BDA.

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