Shelve flyover till doubts are cleared, DVS tells govt
Bengaluru, (DHNS): Union Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation D V Sadananda Gowda on Friday demanded that the government should put on hold the controversial steel flyover project till all doubts are clarified.
Gowda, also accused the Siddaramaiah government of hushing up the project details. “The government has not bothered to meet those protesting against the project and clarify their doubts. It (the government) has not been able to convince me too…There is no transparency as far as the project is concerned. This has led to lot of suspicion in the minds of people,” he told reporters here.
The former chief minister asked the government to clarify on five key issues: Whether toll will be imposed or not; impact on environment after axing 800 trees; reasons for escalation in the project cost by Rs 600 crore in six months; reason for the government not giving Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption and source of funds for implementing the project.
He said people are concerned about the impact on environment due to the project. Cutting 800 trees will definitely upset the ecology in Bengaluru. “Why is the government not ready to meet these people (those opposing the project for environmental reasons)? It is the responsibility of the government to convince everybody and take everybody along,” he added.
Cost of the project has shot up by Rs 600 crore in six months. This is despite decline in steel prices by 50%. The steel flyover being a public project, the government can waive off VAT and thereby bring down the cost by Rs 200 crore. But, the government has included VAT while estimating the total project cost. Besides, it is impossible to impose toll on users. Any such move will lead to traffic congestion, he pointed out.
The government has maintained secrecy on the source of funds for implementing the project. The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) does not have major source of revenue. The BDA is on the verge of becoming bankrupt. So, the government has to clarify as to how it will mobilise such a huge sum for the project, Gowda demanded.
He, however, admitted that people are putting up with hardship due to traffic jam on the airport road and that the government should take measures to ease the congestion. Gowda also advised the government to develop alternative road to the Kempe Gowda International Airport to decongest core Bengaluru areas.
As the MP from Bangalore North constituency, D V Sadananda Gowda is said to be in a dilemma: He can neither openly oppose the project nor support it.
Though his party, the BJP, has been vehemently opposing the steel flyover, Gowda has been cautious on the issue, lest he incurs the wrath of citizens who want the project to be implemented to decongest the airport road. Gowda said he has not been able to take a stand as the government has failed to clear his doubts.