BENGALURU: The government’s plan to realign the Namma Metro route to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) via Hebbal was intended to provide seamless connectivity, but it now appears the new route will only inconvenience passengers travelling to the airport.
Although the route runs direct to the airport, sources say commuters will have to change trains twice, switching from either a Purple, Green or Yellow line to the Red line and then again to the Blue line to reach KIA. This also means an additional 4-5km travel in the city.
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“A person trying to reach the airport from either the railway station or Majestic bus terminus will have to switch trains at MG Road to reach Nagawara and again switch at Nagawara to reach the airport,” said a senior government official.
The problem was reportedly discussed at the cabinet meeting on Thursday and objections were raised over commuters being hassled by the two changeovers. However, Ajay Seth, managing director, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL), reportedly pushed for the change in alignment. He is said to have told those present at the meeting that there is “no alternative”.
The official reason the government has rendered for the realignment is that the line proposed earlier — which runs via Ramakrishna Hegde Nagar, Nagawara and Jakkur — was too close to Bangalore-Mangalore Oil pipeline.
“We had no option since rules mandate 18 meters of empty space on either side of a Metro line to provide stability to the pillars,” said deputy chief minister G Parameshwara, who is also in charge of Bengaluru development.
Another justification given for the new alignment is the fact that the original airport line, connecting Gottigere to Nagawara and from there to KIA, would have been further delayed as that particular line will go underground.
“With bids for the high-cost underground line being delayed and re-tendering for the line continuing, we cannot let the line to the airport to be further delayed,” said the official.
However, sources also suggest the government may have succumbed to pressure from real estate developers and IT companies to change the line, since there are a number of high-profile projects under construction near Manyata Tech Park on the Outer Ring Road, Hebbal, Kodigehalli junction and Jakkur.
State signs Rs 3,800 crore loan
The European Investment Bank (EIB) on Friday inked an agreement to loan Karnataka 500 million euros (Rs 3,800 crore). The fund — for the Metro project — will be delivered in two tranches. The EIB said it is funding the project as it wants to promote efforts to reduce carbon footprint in the world and improve air quality in Bengaluru.
Chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and deputy chief minister G Parameshwara, who were both present at the meeting, said the loan will be utilised for Phase 2 (200 million euros) and Phase 3 (300 million euros) of the Metro project. The EIB has assured further assistance of another 300 million euros to complete Reach 6 of the project.