An aggressive campaign by a group called Citizens for Sankey has placed the Karnataka government under tremendous pressure during election time, and it is now reconsidering the Sankey flyover project and is likely to drop it.
The members of Citizens for Sankey said they initially tried to meet the local MLA CN Ashwathnarayan several times, but in vain. On 3 February, when Ashwathnarayan, who is also the Karnataka minister for higher education, had come to meet the BJP karyakartas at the Malleswaram office, the members of the group finally met him and handed over a letter that said why the majority of the residents are against the Sankey flyover project.
Ashwathnarayan‘s media advisor Sridhar told South First: “The MLA is not at all interested in this. He had ideas to widen the Sankey road as it was too narrow for vehicles. The BBMP [Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike] has however decided to build a flyover along with the road widening to decongest traffic. The MLA stands with the citizens’ decision. If the citizens don’t want it, the MLA also doesn’t want it, and there are good chances that it would get dropped. However, now the decision is with the BMLTA [Bengaluru Metropolitan Land Transport Authority].”
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The members of Citizens of Sankey then went and stood in line at the janata darshan at Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s house and handed over the letter against the Sankey flyover project to him. They said the CM had promised them that he had an open mind on this, and would come up with a favourable decision in the meeting that he would be heading at the BMLTA.
When South First contacted the Chief Minister’s Office, the media spokesperson said a decision on the Sankey flyover project was yet to be taken.
The Citizens for Sankey letter said that while the Detailed Project Report (DPR) with the BBMP says that there are only 39 trees that have to be cut for the project, the Azim Premji University’s rapid environmental impact assessment (EIA) report notes there are 55 trees — all of them around 80 to 90 years old.
Students write to CM against Bengaluru Sankey flyover
At least 2,000 postcards from school children in and around Malleswaram, Sadashiva Nagara, and Vyalikaval have reached Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. The children have requested the CM to drop the Sankey flyover project and save the heritage trees that add to the aesthetics and ethos of the Sankey tank and Malleswaram areas — known as old Bengaluru.
The Citizens for Sankey group has been organising a number of activities to emotionally connect the people in and around Malleswaram, Sadashiva Nagara, and Vyalikaval to the Sankey tank and its biodiversity.
“The postcard campaign was one among them. Around three to four schools from the area near the Sankey tank participated in the campaign with each student writing a postcard addressed to ‘Bommai Uncle’,” Preeti Sunderajan, a Malleswaram resident, told South First.
23 species of trees: Citizens of Sankey conduct biodiversity walks
The group had also organised a drawing session for the children. The kids wore their artist hats and depicted the aesthetic beauty of the Sankey tank and the surrounding trees. They also cut heart-shaped red cloths and hung their drawings along with them around the trees to register their protest.
Citizens for Sankey also conducted biodiversity walks twice for residents and children in the area.
Experts explained that there were 23 species of trees in the Sankey tank surroundings and their likely age and other specialities. “Even ornithologists were a part of the biodiversity walk sessions where they spoke about the kinds of birds that inhabit these trees,” Preeti added.
The group is planning to carry out such activities until confirmation comes from the government about dropping the project and the tender process is stopped.
The Citizens for Sankey group alleged the government agencies have not been transparent in their functioning.
“The BBMP was expected to submit the documents of the project along with the Detailed Project Report to the BMLTA last week. But the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) [under which the BMLTA functions] said that it has not received any documents from the BBMP,” said Preeti.
“Further, the 21-member committee headed by the CM in BMLTA has not been formed to take a decision on the Sankey flyover project. Once the committee is formed, we will have to scrutinise each member and their credibility,” she added.