Why are residents and experts opposed to Bengaluru’s Sankey Road flyover proposal?

The flyover is a part of the BBMP's plans to widen the Sankey Tank Bund Road.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Feb 04, 2023 | 9:08 PM Updated Feb 07, 2023 | 5:18 PM

One of the heritage trees marked for axing for the upcoming Sankey Road Flyover project in Bengaluru

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s proposal to build the Sankey Road flyover project has led to opposition from residents, civic activists, and urban planners, who say it won’t address the city’s perennial traffic problem and only lead to the cutting down of around 60 trees.

The flyover is a part of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) plans to widen the Sankey Tank Bund Road.

The road widening project had stalled more than a decade ago after a lot of criticism and protests. It is being resurrected now. But the Sankey Road Flyover was not a part of the earlier project and is a new proposal.

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Cost, length of proposed Sankey Road flyover in Bengaluru

The area where the proposed Sankey Tank flyover in Bengaluru will come up

The area where the proposed Sankey Tank flyover in Bengaluru will come up (Screenshot taken from Google Maps)

A 560-metre four-lane corridor, the flyover would span 1.1 km from the T Chowdhaiah Road to Malleswaram 18th Cross in Bengaluru.

This means the Bengaluru flyover, which will cost around ₹60 crore in total, will stretch from the Tank Bund Road across the Bhashyam Circle and land towards the Cauvery Theatre Junction.

While there is also an “assurance” of it being built within a deadline period of two years, no one in the area is buying it.

Why residents oppose it

Canopy of heritage trees in Malleswaram-Sadashivnagar

Old trees in Malleswaram-Sadashivnagar

Residents in and around Malleswaram, Vyalikaval, and Sadashivnagar, and experts are up in arms against the project.

They say it will not help in the decongestion of traffic — the flyover’s very purpose.

The project came under criticism most recently at a meeting organised by the Citizens for Sankey (CfS) Group with the BBMP officials on 31 January at the Canara Union in Malleswaram.

If this flyover is to come up, the Stella Maris School Junction and Chowdhaiah Memorial Hall Junction could both start getting choked by vehicles coming from Vyalikaval and Malleswaram, the residents said at the meeting.

“It is going to cause a bottleneck ahead at the Magic Box at the Cauvery junction and at the other side at the CNR Rao circle and the entire network of traffic is going to get clogged,” Preeti Sunderajan, a Malleswaram resident who is also a dancer and educationist, told South First.

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‘Flyovers only shift congestion, buses are the solution’

Mobility expert and IISc Professor Ashish Verma, in his detailed report on Bengaluru’s Sankey Road flyover project, concludes: “Flyovers do not solve traffic congestion, rather, they only shift the point of traffic congestion. Flyovers follow a vehicle-centric approach and not a people-centric approach, which is opposite to the core principle of the National Urban Transport Policy. And flyovers do not account for network effects, … environmental and ecological impact, etc.”

Shaheen Shasa, founder of Bus Prayanikara Vedike, told South First: “We have built flyovers and widened roads in Bengaluru for over two decades and congestion has only grown. The only solution to congestion is reducing vehicles and prioritising transport modes that use road space efficiently. That’s where the buses come into the picture.”

There is a need to shift people from cars to buses, she added and noted: “We have just 6,000 buses in the city for a 1.3 crore population. We need approximately 14,000 buses. We need a city-level mapping and re-planning of the BMTC network to meet today’s needs more effectively.”

60 trees have to be cut for Bengaluru’s Sankey Road flyover

One of the trees marked for cutting for the upcoming Sankey flyover in Bengaluru

One of the trees marked for cutting for the upcoming Sankey flyover in Bengaluru (Supplied)

BS Prahlad, chief engineer (road and infrastructure projects), BBMP, attempted to convince the residents at the 31 January meeting and said the officials would take up afforestation work wherever the trees were cut.

But the residents were in no mood to listen as they said they wanted no disturbance to the ambience of the old city.

“Is the Sankey Road Flyover required at the cost of 60 heritage trees and the ethos and the aesthetics of Malleswaram, an old area in Bengaluru?” asked Preeti.

Some of the residents walked out in protest saying they had received ambiguous answers from the BBMP officials.

Civic activists alleged that the BBMP has not followed due process according to the revised master plan. Moreover, a part of the flyover alongside the Sankey Tank Bund Road is coming within the lake’s buffer zone. This could require an NGT clearance.

An advocate from the citizen’s group pointed out that the project is not a part of the comprehensive development plan and could be challenged in court.

Heritage trees near Sankey Tank

Old trees near Sankey Tank

A few activists opined that the BBMP could take up the road widening project as it is approved under the revised master plan but a flyover in that corridor is not a part of that. Nevertheless, residents of the area have objected to both road widening and the construction of the flyover.

First infra work before BMLTA

According to sources, the BBMP will soon submit the Sankey flyover’s project documents along with a detailed project report to the Bengaluru Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA), the first infrastructure work before the recently constituted body.

According to the BMLTA Act, the authority is empowered to review and approve the project only if it is in accordance with the Comprehensive Mobility Plan. The civic body would not however seek the approval of the BMLTA for the other parts of the Sankey Tank Road widening project because the High Court had already cleared it after due approvals in the Revised Master Plan of 2015, and from the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), Deccan Herald has reported citing sources.

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