Construction in progress near the Kodigehalli-Thindlu Road end

BBMP fails to pay landowners; Underpass’ future uncertain

By Kaustav Roy

Bangalore, Sep 14, 2017:The four-year-old Kodigehalli Underpass Project faces further delay as Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Pallike(BBMP) has failed to provide Rs. 60 crores in compensation to land owners.

An Executive Engineer of the Dasarahalli Division (BBMP), said they had got the funds sanctioned by the project committee, but missed the March 31st 2017 deadline to withdraw the money. He added that Rs. 5 crores will be distributed in the next few days. However, for the rest, they will have to make a fresh application.

The Kodigehalli Underpass project was jointly announced by the South-Western Railways and the BBMP in 2013. However, Mr. Gandhi, site Engineer of the project contractor GPNR Constructions said the project faced multiple delays due to land acquisition problems. In April 2016, BBMP assured the Karnataka High Court that work would be completed within four months -and again failed to meet its deadline.

“BBMP is only the land acquisition agency in this joint venture and will play no role in implementing the construction phase of the project”, said Mr. Mukunda of the BBMP.

He explained that a total of 5224 sq. m of land was identified on both sides of the railway track. Initially, the BBMP had offered land for land compensation in accordance with Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) rules. However, the BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad said the land owners were then offered cash compensation of around Rs. 8362/ft. in accordance with the amended 2013 TDR rules.

Venkatesh, a local shop owner and property dealer, said that he has lost over Rs.1 crore in the past three years ever since construction work began because rents have gone down in the area. He added that the construction has progressed at a slow pace over the last few months.

Gopal Jayaram, a local construction material dealer, said that he, along with the other land owners is involved in a court case against the BBMP for the past three years. He added that his revenue dropped over Rs. 30 lakhs in the last two years and the business has become unsustainable due to lack of customers, who need to travel an extra four kilometres to reach his shop.

Jayaram also said that he, along with a group of 73 land owners want around Rs.11,000 for a square foot  instead of the offered price. Harish, a shop owner who has accepted BBMP’s compensation package said that he had no other option but to accept the package as he was not making any substantial profits.

However, he said the BBMP has not transferred the money till now and only a partial payment has been promised in the next few weeks. Mr. Mukunda confirmed that around 50 per cent of the land owners had willingly accepted the compensation package. Dushyant K N, a lawyer and local activist, said that a number of land owners had accepted the compensation package but have received no money till now.

Urban Planner Pankaj Yadav said underpasses can be beneficial, especially in a city like Bangalore, as they can really solve major traffic issues. However, the government agencies like BBMP need to take into account the cost-benefit ratio and not just implement projects for the sake of “development”.

Manoj Kumar Shah, Engineer(Construction), South Western Railways, said that it is due to BBMP’s faulty land acquisition process the project has been delayed. He acknowledged the fact that BBMP in fact had managed to get the Rs. 60 crores allocated, but were unable to utilise the money to acquire any land.He added the Railways regularly review such projects and cancels the project tenders if they find them to be irresolvable. In such a case, new tenders are floated again once the existing problems get resolved.

 

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