Almost a year ago, Bengaluru witnessed a never-seen-before people's protest that forced the Karnataka government to pull back its dream project - steel flyover. Not just that, the 'steel flyover beda' campaign (held on October 16, 2016) reinstated the focus on citizens and their rights.
The State government was adamant on building the steel flyover bridge from Basaveshwar Circle to Hebbal to curb traffic bottlenecks on the stretch. The six-lane steel flyover was to come at the cost of Rs 1.791 crore in 24 months. The project would also see a massive felling of trees to be precise 800, that dotted the stretch.
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Concerned over this, the Namma Bengaluru Foundation led by MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar strongly opposed the project. A petition on Change.org was also launched seeking people's support to oppose the campaign. Nearly, 36,000 Bengalureans had signed up for the petition.
The online petition by MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that Bengaluru needed a comprehensive mobility plan with focus and large-scale investment in public transportation. And the proposed steel flyover was a strong signal that the state government prefers to cater to the private sector.
The protest gained momentum when residents from across the city joined the human chain organised on October 16. Noted personalities who extended their support to the protest were former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde, historian Ramachandra Guha, actors Prakash Belawadi, Arundhati Nag and several others. On October 16, over 5,000 Bengalureans came out the streets to form a human chain against the steel flyover project that forced the state government to rereconsider it.
The protest received a major push when the National Green Tribunal and the Karnataka High Court too took note of the magnanimity of the destruction that would possibly be rendered with 800 trees cut and restrained the Bangalore Development Authority from going ahead with the project.
The relentless efforts by the Namma Bengaluru Foundation, the Citizen Action Forum and others, finally paid off when the State government bowed to the people's pressure and decided to scrap the project on March 2, 2017. This was a victory for Bengalurean who protested against the steel flyover. Welcoming the government’s decision, MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar had said that “This is a big victory for citizen power – the core essence of our democracy and Urban Governance. When citizens unite themselves and fight for the city, political corruption and apathy can be conquered, and the city can win.”
Sharing his thoughts on the people's movement, former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde told Newsable that to quote Peterson "The constitution is not a tool for the government to control the people but a tool for the people to control the government. All these years people were being controlled by the government on a pretext that they were helping people through controlling them. This the basis for the state government to decide to have a steel bridge from Raj Bhavan to Hebbal flyover."
"At a cost unrelated to actuals, contrary, environmental laws and common sense but they underestimated the strength of the masses. Fight against that proved there is a strength in numbers and unity can bring even government to its knees. Bangaloreans have proved it. Hope government learns a lesson," Hegde said.
Emphasising on citizen's participation in democracy, Hegde said people in a democracy couldn't be complacent. The end has not come; there are indications that an adamant government will try to salvage their decision by some other means.
"Be vigilant Bangaloreans. The country did not get freedom by one Eternal fight vigilance is the foundation of democracy," Hegde said.
To commemorate the anniversary of the victory of every Bengalurean, the Namma Bengaluru Foundation is celebrating with #IDaredToSayBeda. If you too have made a difference, let the world know. Share your story with #IDaredToSayBeda on http://bit.ly/2yfUDpK.