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Deve Gowda wants metro project re-evaluated

Special Correspondent

JD(S) President writes to Manmohan, Dharam Singh



COMFORTING WORDS: The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh (right), speaking to the Janata Dal (S) President and former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, in a private hospital where the latter underwent a minor surgery on his right knee on Saturday. Mr. De ve Gowda is likely to be discharged on Monday — Photo: K. Murali Kumar

BANGALORE: The Janata Dal (S) President and former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, has called upon the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, to constitute a high-level expert committee to go into the Bangalore Metro project. He has urged Mr. Singh not to allow implementation of the project till it is evaluated again.

In letters to Mr. Dharam Singh and the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, he compared the project with the Delhi Metro. He said he is not against the metro but wanted it to be cheaper and "less destructive." The example of the Delhi Metro, whose project cost was revised from the initial estimate of Rs. 4,800 crores to over Rs. 12,000 crores, the lower number of users compared with the figure projected, and the consequent lower revenue should caution the Karnataka Government against accepting the claims of the Delhi Metro, he said.

Appreciating the Urban Renewal Programme launched by the Prime Minister, he said there are strong reasons to doubt the wisdom of replicating, as part of the programme, the Delhi Metro for cities such as Bangalore. The metro is a ruinously expensive project that takes a long time to complete and plays havoc with normal life during its implementation.

Mr. Deve Gowda said the people of Bangalore have not been made aware of the implications of the metro.

Those who are aware of all aspects of the project will prefer suitable alternatives and demand that the metro be scrapped, he added.

`A burden'

The former Prime Minister said he is strongly opposed to the State Government continuing with the metro proposal since it is extremely expensive and will burden the State's power supply system. In his view, there are cheaper ways of building a mass rapid transit system for Bangalore, he said.

He said the choice of the system should be governed by four major considerations — lowest possible cost with least dependence on budgetary support from the Union and State governments, lowest possible utilisation of grid power, lowest possible construction time and demolition of minimum number of houses, shops, places of worship, and public institutions such as schools, colleges and hospitals.

Mr. Deve Gowda suggested that the expert committee to go into the metro project should have the Chief Secretary as Chairman and the principal secretaries of the Urban Development, Finance and Law departments as members. Besides, two experts of national repute in the field of mass transportation should be included.

In comparison to the Metro system, which was a luxury the State can ill-afford, there are options such as the light rail system and monorail system, which can be built at much lower prices, he said.

Mr. Deve Gowda said that given the large area of private and public lands proposed to be acquired for the metro, law and order problems are likely. The underground sections of the metro are to pass under congested and old parts of Bangalore. "No proper estimate seems to have been made on property acquisition and demolition of structures, and the extent of social upheaval that this will certainly give rise to. Public anger is already building up in some parts of Bangalore, especially in Indiranagar and Ulsoor, where much of the private proposed to be acquired is located. We can ignore it only at our peril."

He said a section of the metro is proposed to be built in the Cubbon Park area in violation of the Parks Act.

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