An ambitious vision

Published : Jan 30, 2004 00:00 IST

THE genesis of the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project (BMICP) goes back to the late 1980s when the State government sought private initiative to build an expressway to ease traffic between Bangalore and Mysore. In October 1998, the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises Limited (NICEL) was awarded the project under the build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) scheme. To speed up the process of land acquisition and to permit a later change in land-use pattern, the acquisition was done not under the Karnataka Land Acquisition Act but under the Karnataka Industries Area Development Board (KIADB) Act. The government even amended the KIADB Act so as to allow a private company to acquire land. As per the agreement, the project was to be completed in 10 years. Thereafter NICEL could operate the expressway for 30 years with the right to collect toll.

The expressway will cut down driving time between Bangalore and Mysore from the present four hours to 90 minutes. At the Bangalore end, the peripheral road will connect the expressway to NH 4 (Bangalore-Pune) and NH 7 (Bangalore-Hosur), while the link road will connect Bangalore city centre to the expressway.

The BMICP will also have five modern, self-sustaining townships, each accommodating a population of 1,00,000 people and with one of the following themes - corporate, commercial, heritage, industrial and eco-tourism. The project will have a dedicated 400-MW power-generating station and its own telecommunications and tertiary sewage treatment facilities and will be provided with 2 tmc ft of water from the Cauvery. The expressway component of the project requires around 7,000 acres (2,800 ha) of land and the townships another 13,000 acres (5,200 ha).

Opponents of the project say it involves the acquisition of 7,112 acres (2,844.8 ha) of fertile agricultural land in Karnataka's `rice bowl' - Maddur, Mandya, Srirangapatna and Mysore taluks) - and the displacement of around 2,00,000 people and is unnecessary and unviable.

According to an independent study carried out by the National Institute of Advanced Studies at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the time taken to complete the expressway would be eight to 10 years, while doubling and electrifying the existing railway line would take only four or five years. The rail project would cost Rs.500 crores (the expressway costs Rs.2,000 crores), acquisition of land is negligible and the rail project would also not displace anyone. According to railway officials, electrification of the double track and upgrading of signalling and traffic control could cut down the travel time between Bangalore and Mysore to less than 90 minutes.

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