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Siddaramaiah Refuses to Reconsider Steel Flyover Decision, Trashes 'Funds for Polls' Claims

D P Satish | CNN-News18 dp_satish

First published: October 14, 2016, 9:08 PM IST | Updated: October 14, 2016
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Siddaramaiah Refuses to Reconsider Steel Flyover Decision, Trashes 'Funds for Polls' Claims
File photo of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. (PTI)

New Delhi: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has said he will go ahead with plans to build an expensive 7-km-long steel flyover in Bengaluru despite objection from civil society and allegations of corruption from political opponents.

The bridge planned between the Chalukya Hotel Circle behind Vidhana Soudha and Hebbala lake on the way to Bengaluru International Airport will cost roughly `1,800 crore — `264 crore per kilometre — easily making it one of the costliest in the country.

While Opposition parties are questioning the huge cost, with former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy even alleging it is to fund the Congress poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh, activists point out that more than 1,000 trees along the Sankey Road would need to be cut down ruining the charm of old Bengaluru.

Reacting to the allegations, Siddaramaiah told News18: "We have listened to all. I am aware of the objections being raised by civil society and the opposition. The decision has been taken after following the due procedure. It is an old proposal. The Opposition can say anything. We are doing it to improve infrastructure in the city.”

Kumaraswamy's charges against the Congress had been shared by his father and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, triggering a fierce debate.

"Karnataka is the only state which can generate money for the Congress. They are milking the state dry to fight elections in other states," Kumaraswamy told News18.

Bengaluru Urban Development (BDA) Minister KJ George, who recently returned to the state Cabinet after getting a clean chit over the suicide of a police officer, said it will decongest traffic in the city.

“The proposal was first mooted by the BJP government in 2010. A year after taking charge as Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah revived that. We have thoroughly studied all aspects, pros and cons. Just because some people are making wild allegations, we can’t drop it," he said.

Former chief minister and Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar has demanded that the government must take public sentiments into consideration before going ahead with such a huge and ecologically sensitive project.

“The government’s attitude is suspicious. They are trying to hide something and is in a hurry to float a tender. The earlier plan was for `1,400 crore. At that time, cost of steel per tonne was `52,000. It has now come down to `40,000 per tonne. But the cost of the project has gone up to `1,791 crore. It clearly shows that there is something more to it,” Shettar said.

Many activists believe the steel flyover will be an ungainly sight across the cityscape and have started an online campaign against it. The Namma Bengaluru Foundation has already challenged it in the Karnataka High Court, which ordered the government to seek public views on it.

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