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3,000 Bengalureans form 4-km-long Human Chain to protest against Steel Flyover to International Airport at Devanahalli

Hundreds of youth, including boys and girls also ran a marathon on the thoroughfare where the flyover has been planned without consulting citizens and urban experts

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Bengaluru. Source: wikimedia
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October 16, 2016: About 3,000 Bengalureans on Sunday formed a 4-km-long human chain to protest against the proposed 6.7-km steel flyover for a signal-free ride to the international airport at Devanahalli on the city’s northern outskirts.

Holding placards, banners and billboards against the flyover, members of residential welfare associations, social activists and NGO representatives stood along the footpath from Chalukya hotel in the city centre to Mekhri circle in the north side and urged the Karnataka government to scrap the Rs 1,750-crore project.

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“We are all for better connectivity to the airport but not at the cost of about 800 trees as hundreds of trees have already been lost for various infrastructure projects, including the metro rail service and other roads,” said urban conservationist Vijay Nishanth on the occasion.

Unfazed by the protests and ignoring urban experts, the state government has recently awarded the project to L&T Ltd to build the steel flyover from Chalukya circle to Hebbal circle, which connects the airport road and the busy National Highway number 7 towards Hyderabad.

[bctt tweet=”‘Citizens Against Steel Flyover’ campaign has been launched to prevent steel flyover construction in Bengaluru.” username=””]

Though the country’s third busiest airport is located about 40 km from the city, the stretch of the main road where the flyover has been planned is bedevilled with heavy vehicular traffic as it connects the city’s south, east and west suburbs.

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“The government should explore alternate routes to divert and regulate the traffic to the airport and the highway than allowing a monstrous steel structure that will not only rob the greenery, but also does not ease the gridlock, which will only shift to both sides of the flyover, as vehicles pile up in the absence of service roads,” noted urban expert and architect N. Narasimhan.

The denizens of this 10-million tech hub are so agitated over the steel project that a ‘Citizens Against Steel Flyover’ campaign has been launched to prevent the state-run Bangalore Development Authority from constructing the steely structure.

“The failure of the authorities in ensuring basic infrastructure in line with the city’s explosive growth due to influx of people from across the state and country have turned the garden city into an urban chaos, with half the green cover vanishing, lake beds encroached and air quality spoilt,” lamented Sujathia Kulkarni, a homemaker.

A British national (T. Allen) who works with an NGO in the city, said the government should learn from London where vehicular traffic movement does not rely on only flyovers and one-ways and no-ways as in Bengaluru.

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“The government has to decongest the city, build alternative roads, encourage public transport and provide a metro rail link to the airport than build a steel flyover,” reiterated Siddharth Nayak, a bank manager.

Social media has been abuzz against the project through hashtag #steelfyoverbeda.

Wearing T-shirts and donning caps with “beda” (no in Kannada) hundreds of youth, including boys and girls also ran a marathon on the thoroughfare where the flyover has been planned without consulting citizens and urban experts. (IANS)

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Bengaluru kids more exposed to toxic air: Report

Observed air quality levels exceeded safety limits by more than five times, the particulate matter count was above 400 micrograms (IG) per cubic metre, says the report

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Observed air quality levels exceeded safety limits by more than five times, the particulate matter count was above 400 micrograms (IG) per cubic metre, says the report.
Observed air quality levels exceeded safety limits by more than five times, the particulate matter count was above 400 micrograms (IG) per cubic metre, says the report. Wikimedia Commons
  • The school-goers are among the worst affected by the toxic air
  • With an existing fleet of seven million vehicles, nearly 900 new vehicles are added to the Bengaluru’s roads every day
  • Observed air quality levels exceeded safety limits by more than five times

If you are travelling in an open vehicle during peak traffic hours daily in Bengaluru, you are likely to be exposed to severe toxic air. And school-goers are among the worst affected, a report warned on Wednesday.

Between 8.30am and 10.30am, the particulate pollution levels between Banashankari to Marathahalli varied from 70-800 micrograms per cubic meter, an alarming high, says the report, “Bengaluru’s Rising Air Quality Crisis: The Need for Sustained Reportage and Action”, by independent environmental researcher Aishwarya Sudhir.

But why is Bengaluru gridlocked?

With an existing fleet of seven million vehicles, nearly 900 new vehicles are added to the Bengaluru’s roads every day.

Worsening the problem, says the report, is illegal dumping of waste mixed with mass untreated sewage.

Also Read: Neurologists say rising air pollution can cause stroke among adults

The city generates around 4,500 to 5,000 tonnes of waste per day, by conservative estimates. The state capital often referred as India’s Silicon Valley because of its information technology hub, has had its challenges with outdated waste collection, segregation and transportation system, which often results in toxic emissions.

Climate Trends works on solutions to air pollution, while Co Media Lab is a community media lab.
Climate Trends works on solutions to air pollution, while Co Media Lab is a community media lab. Wikimedia Commons

The city has 10 online monitoring stations, of which five were introduced in January with an additional feature to generate Air Quality Index.

The five new stations are in Hebbal, Jayanagar, Kavika, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences and Silk Board.

Taking up the cudgels to check the alarming pollution levels, the report says residents of Whitefield Rising in Mahadevapura in November last year tested the air quality in the morning in their locality.

Observed air quality levels exceeded safety limits by more than five times, the particulate matter count was above 400 micrograms (IG) per cubic metre, says the report.

Also Read: How exposure to air pollution in womb may shorten lifespan

Clean up

Sudhir, who is based in Bengaluru, told IANS that the residents initiated a daily activity to clean up roads by hiring a vacuum cleaner and demonstrated that this is indeed possible.

They have been spending money on and off to get the roads cleaned. They have approached the local municipality and the pollution control board to regularise it. So far that hasn’t happened.

Likewise, residents of Malleshwaram have started taking the initiative to tackle the problem of burning leaves, another major cause of air pollution, in their locality by composting in their gardens or empty plots.

The city generates around 4,500 to 5,000 tonnes of waste per day, by conservative estimates.
The city generates around 4,500 to 5,000 tonnes of waste per day, by conservative estimates. Wikimedia Commons

Quoting Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research cardiologist Rahul Patil, the report says: “After eliminating stress and dietary habits, we found cab and auto drivers were the worst hit as they remain stranded for long hours in bad traffic and are exposed to high levels of pollution.”

Co Media Lab Director Pinky Chandran told IANS that unlike New Delhi and other cities, Bengaluru, fortunately, has many citizen-action groups that are championing the cause of clean air.

Also Read: Air Pollution And Its Effects On Our Heath

“The state needs to take its citizens into confidence and formulate an implementable action plan which is based on air quality data so that it can bring about change,” she said.

A seven-day air quality monitoring exercise took up by Co Media Lab and Climate Trends this month found that the particulate matter averages observed over four hours during peak time in the morning and evening were consistently above 200 micrograms per cubic metre, indicating very poor air quality levels.

Climate Trends works on solutions to air pollution, while Co Media Lab is a community media lab. Both are based in Bengaluru. (IANS)