Bengaluru Traffic: With Zero Progress Made On Metro Project, No Relief In Sight For Commuters Using Outer Ring Road Traffic in Bengaluru (@AshramBlr/Twitter)

There is no relief in sight for commuters navigating the nightmarish traffic in busiest stretch of Bengaluru‘s outer ring road (ORR) connecting Silk Board Junction with KR Puram. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has so far made zero progress in the construction of the 19.45-km fully elevated line that was proposed almost three years ago.

The much-delayed project, already hit by the tardy tendering approach by BMRCL, has suffered yet another setback with the near collapse of debt-laden Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), which was tipped to win the contract for one or more of packages slated to be awarded as part of this project.

BMRCL had recently indicated that KR Puram-Silk Board line of Metro (called the Phase-2A) would be operational by 2022 which itself was a back down from it’s earlier claims that operations would start from 2021.

Governor Vajubhai Valu had informed a joint sitting of the Karnataka assembly that the entire Phase-II would be in place by March 2021.

Tenders were invited in February 2018 for this stretch of Outer Ring Road (ORR) line but are yet to be awarded. They were originally supposed to be finalised by 7 May.

To expedite the construction of this crucial line, BMRCL had split the civil work into three packages as follows:

  1. Package I - 7.086 km line from Silk Board to Bellandur station for Rs 427 crore
  2. Package II - 6.451 km line from Bellandur station to Doddanekundi station for Rs 416.66 crore
  3. Package III - 5.9-km from Doddanekundi station to KR Puram Interchange station for Rs 386 crore

Thirteen stations are planned on this line including KR Puram, Mahadevapura, DRDO Sports  Complex, Doddanekundi, ISRO, Marathahalli, Kodibisanahalli, Kadubeesanahalli, Bellandur, Iblur, Agara Lake, HSR Layout and Silk Board with Interchange junctions at KR Puram and Silk Board.

BMRCL also went in for what it termed as “innovative funding” model by asking private information technology (IT) firms along the road to foot the cost of the construction.

Of the total projected cost of Rs 4,202 crore, the BMRCL will have to raise at least Rs 1,000 crore to start construction, a condition put forth by the Government of Karnataka. For instance, Intel will develop the Bellandur Metro station while Embassy Group will take up Kadubeesanahalli Metro station.

When the BMRCL opened financial bids for one of the three packages (for the stretch between Silk Board and Bellandur) in July, IL&FS Engineering and Construction Company emerged as the lowest bidder.

For the first package, IL&FS had quoted Rs 433.26 crore to build the 7 km stretch, which translated to 1.39 per cent higher than the BMRCL estimates. IL&FS was also tipped to get all the other 2 packages as it has quoted less than the four other companies for them as well.

With the near collapse of debt-laden IL&FS (which will mean that BMRCL cannot issue work order on Package 1) and delayed opening of financial bids of Package 2 (Bellandur-Doddanekundi) and Package 3 (Doddanekundi-KR Puram), it is likely that the bids would be cancelled causing further delay in ORR metro project.

ORR is among the densest corridors in the IT capital of India . It is dotted with major IT Parks that houses major companies such as Intel, AOL, Cisco and more present. According to a report by international property consultants Cushman & Wakefield, the ORR submarket alone accounted for a whopping 54 per cent of the 12.7 million square feet net absorption of office space during the year 2017, distantly followed by the peripheral east submarket comprising of Whitefield.

In addition to the preponderance of tech giants, major residential complexes and apartments have also sprung up. This consequently makes it the city’s most congested road. ORR also acts as a link road connecting traffic between the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) and the major IT hubs at Electronics City and Whitefield.

Back in 2015, due to major traffic snarls, IT major Capgemini was considering relocating its campuses either in North Bengaluru or even moving out to Hyderabad, Pune or Chennai. It was reported that traffic snarls along the ORR and in Whitefield cost the industry a whopping Rs 22,000 crore in productivity losses per annum.

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