BENGALURU: As chief minister Siddaramaiah prepares to present Karnataka’s Budget on Wednesday, citizens, living in the other half of Bengaluru not covered by metro, would be looking for some momentum on the 42-km light rail transit (LRT) project he announced in his last year’s Budget.
The government is keen to connect Bannerghatta Road with Hebbal through an LRT system by taking it through JP Nagar, Kanakapura road, Padmanabhanagar, Nayandahalli, Magadi road, Goraguntepalya, Peenya I phase, HMT layout, BEL Circle, and Bhadrappa layout. The LRT system, officials said, almost mirrors a metro rail system, but is slightly cheaper than metro. They estimate the project to cost about Rs 11,000 crore.
The government already has a detailed project report (DPR). But nothing much has happened on ground since the CM made the announcement last year, except that the urban development department has come out with a notification laying down the modalities for raising resources to fund the project.
According to this notification, the project could be financed through a set of land-based revenue methods, and Bangalore Airport Rail Link Limited (BARL) could dip into these funds to get the project off the ground. The methods include collecting a fee for allowing premium floor space index (FSI) along and around the corridor, a fee from new buildings at the time of granting approvals and exploitation of real estate space near major infra projects.
Besides, the authorities could also return a plot of developed land to compensate for the larger plot acquired for the project. The LRT project was first suggested a decade ago as part of a multi-pronged strategy to deal with the transport needs of Bengaluru’s rising population which is estimated to have touched 12 million. While BMTC’s services were found inadequate and Namma Metro’s phase I commissioning delayed, political bosses and officials took long to take a view on LRT. This has led to a steep rise in the project cost.
“The government should build LRT system to provide connectivity in places where there is no metro,” said A Ravindra, former chairman at BDA and commissioner at BBMP. “We hope the Budget will have a mention about what extent the infra projects announced for Bengaluru in the last Budget have been implemented and the programmes for next year,” he added.
The modalities, according to officials, have been laid out. “The urban development department should not get into implementation mode,” said an official.
“The BDA and BBMP authorities have a larger role to play if the project has to get going,” he added. As a first step, experts say, the BBMP and BDA have to identify the corridor through which the LRT system could pass and notify the area in their respective zones. The urban development department will have to later direct them to begin collecting the revenue and channel those resources into an escrow account. The department too will have to work as an umbrella body, coordinating with various urban bodies including the BDA and BBMP if the government is serious to get the project off the ground, they said.