The ping-pong saga of PRR project, continues…

The Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) project, which has been in and out of cold storage for over a decade, is once again under negotiation. The state government wants the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to implement the project, but the NHAI (which is under the Union government) estimates that it would cost about Rs.41,000 crore to do so. This estimate includes compensation for land acquisition as well as the construction cost to build the 65-km stretch from Tumkur Road to Hosur Road, diametrically opposite to NICE Road.

Mooted during SM Krishna’s tenure, the project made little progress in the past years. The Bangalore development Authority (BDA) is now looking for Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, to come to its rescue.

The NHAI, however, had already termed the project “not viable” because of how expensive it was. “The project is a waste because land acquisition and compensation would cost more than the cost of the project itself. But it has to be executed because of politics,” said an NHAI engineer, on condition of anonymity.

THE COSTS

Today, NHAI would require around Rs 41,000 crore for the project. Of this, Rs 25,000 crore would be for land acquisition and compensation (according to the new Act), while the construction will cost Rs 16,000 crore, an NHAI engineer explained.

The eight-lane road is to extend over a stretch of 65 km, from Tumkur Road to Hosur Road. This would ease the traffic congestion on Outer Ring Road (ORR).

During the coordination meeting chaired by chief secretary Subhash Chandra Khuntia recently, BDA commissioner Rajkumar Khatri briefed the chair that NHAI had agreed to take over the PRR project.

KJ George, Bangalore Development Minister confirmed this development to media and said that shortly a delegation would meet Gadkari to finalise things. “The project is already being discussed with Gadkari, and our PWD minister is constantly following it up. Shortly, a delegation led by chief minister Siddaramaiah will meet him in Delhi,” he added.

The NHAI officials, however, denied receiving any such requisition from the state government. In fact, they even called the project unfeasible. But an engineer said if there was political will that Bengaluru traffic needed decongestion, then somebody had to take the bold decision.

“Several officials from the state government and NHAI would have held discussion unofficially, but officially, there is no such communication. NHAI is ready to take up the project only if the state government agrees to share the project cost,” said an engineer who has closely seen PRR project for the last 10 years.

The project was last discussed with NHAI officials during Gadkari’s visit to Bengaluru. It is said that the Karnataka’s PWD minister had requested Gadkari to take up the project, but the NHAI had asked the state to take up the land acquisition and compensation.

READY FOR BOTH

Meanwhile, Bengaluru development minister George said they had “orally asked” the NHAI to take up the project. “During our meeting with Gadkari in Delhi, we will submit a detailed project report prepared by BDA. As we [BDA] do not have the money to pay compensation and acquire the required land for the project, we will ask them to take care of the entire thing,” he said. The BDA, however, is also preparing a special purpose vehicle to raise funds for the project.

George said that if the NHAI does not take up the project, the BDA will take it up after preparing the special purpose vehicle. “We have kept the option open. If NHAI does not take it up, the BDA will,” he added.

WHY A PERIPHERAL RING ROAD?

The idea behind building the PRR is to decongest the Outer Ring Road, which currently acts as a bypass to the city with more than 10,000 trucks using it every day. According to BDA’s project report, with the immense growth in intra-city traffic, the ORR is under tremendous pressure already. The city has extended beyond the ORR, which is a key factor in the increasing pressure on this road. To relieve the traffic pressure on the ORR, and the major road networks of the city, a Peripheral Ring Road of 116 km (initially) was planned outside of the ORR.

This route would not only improve connectivity to areas beyond the ORR, but would also ease congestion. The PRR will start from Hosur Road and extend till Tumkur Road, passing via KR Puram, Bellary Road, Old Madras Road and Sarjarpur Road. The project is to take off from near Makali on Benglauru-Pune road and connect with Hosur Road.

THE BACK AND FORTH

The PRR project has been a ping-pong ball between BDA and the NHAI. The then CM, SM Krishna, had announced that the project would be taken up by the BDA, which had by then successfully executed the Outer Ring Road. A preliminary survey was also conducted by the BDA in 2004.

However, in January 2008, the then state executive committee under Governor Rameshwar Thakur announced the transfer of the PRR project to the NHAI. Later, the state government announced the withdrawal of the project from NHAI and handed it over to the BDA, to be executed under a public-private partnership. Now, with the NHAI proposing again, it needs to be seen as to who will execute this much-delayed project.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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