New Metro line launch in Bengaluru for electoral gains: Congress
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to inaugurate the much-awaited KR Puram-Whitefield Metro line in Bengaluru on March 25, Karnataka Congress has accused the ruling BJP government of launching a metro-line for electoral benefit. Experts, however, welcomed the move as it would address the traffic congestion in the IT hub, and adding that the opposition is raking up the issue for political reasons.
Calling it a “discontinuous, disjointed and disconnected” project, and a metro line that connects “nowhere to nowhere”, Congress Karnataka in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said it will cause more problems than it will solve and endanger public safety.
Surjewala said that Modi is in a hurry to open vital infrastructure projects of the country even before their completion, jeopardising safety and causing operational stress. “The BJP wants to use media events as a springboard for the upcoming elections,” he said.
“PM Modi will be inaugurating the metro line between Byappannahalli to KR Puram to Whitefield coming Saturday, which is discontinuous and disjointed. Forcefully making it operational prematurely will cause undue hardships for Bengalureans and put the BMTC under pressure to deploy buses from its normal routes to the routes connecting metro stations, which is already facing a shortage of 8,000 buses,” he said.
“This move overlooks 57 works that are in various stages of completion and commissioning, posing safety and inconvenience issues,” Surjewala added.
Professor MN Sreehari, who is an advisor to the government on traffic, transportation and infrastructure, however, said that stretch which is ready can be opened in parts as well. “It was pre-planned to start the metro with the bus system. The Congress is raking up the issue for political reasons,” Sreehari said.
Civic activist Srinivas Alavilli, dismissed claims of safety issues and said that the Congress might be saying such things from a political point of view.
Pointing out that the metro to a IT-dominated area is the best opportunity to address the traffic condition of the city, Alavili said, “Bengaluru has three major areas where all the cars are going – Electronic City, ORR and Whitefield. These are the three areas where there are high number of jobs and car ownership exists. After almost 12 years since metro started in Bengaluru, it is being connected to an IT-dominated place, which has a high density of traffic.”
The Congress alleged that the construction of the metro line from the Baiyappanahalli to KR Puram metro stations has not been completed, and is not likely to be operational for the next six months. Alavilli said that the full potential of the metro line will not be seen until that stretch is completed. “Until June-July when the link is completed, as they are saying, it will be interesting to see how many people take the bus facility.”
Meanwhile, civic activist and convener of Citizens’ Agenda for Bengaluru, Sandeep Anirudhan, pointed out that apart from the last stop, the white field station which looks complete, every other station looks incomplete or like it is under construction. “With three to go for the inauguration, the stairs are not clean, it is not fully painted. This is the brick-and-mortar part of it,” Anirudhan said.
“For about 2 km, there is no metro line – between KR Puram and Byappanahalli. That is the choking point. Here, the BMTC has been roped in to put in the extra effort. BMTC is already short on buses, which will affect the entire city’s bus service,” Anirudhan said.
“BMRCL also estimates that they can complete that stretch within three months. So, which means, if they launch after three months, they don’t have to do all of this. If they can complete it in three months, they could have done all the testing, training and launch it peacefully then,” he added.
Modi will visit poll-bound Karnataka on March 25 to inaugurate Sri Madhusudan Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in Chikkaballapur. He will then visit Bengaluru in the afternoon to inaugurate the Whitefield metro line and also ride in the metro.