India: No relief in sight for Bengaluru traffic snarls at Minsk Square
Karnataka chief minister Bommai adds a new twist to commuters' woes
Minsk Square, which is located at the nerve centre of the south Indian state of Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru, has been at the centre of a raging controversy — and just got a fresh twist on Monday following an announcement by new chief minister Basavaraj Bommai.
The matter has come to a head because a six-feet protrusion bang in the middle of the busy junction has been leading to massive traffic snarls during peak hours for several years.
The protrusion, which is part of a traffic island, measuring six feet, was built a few years ago above Cubbon Road Metro Station, and remains a bone of contention because the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) has refused to either shift or demolish it.
Now, plans are afoot to proceed with a new high-speed Metro connection from the Cubbon Park underground station, which is below the square, to the Kempegowda International Airport that is located at Devanahalli.
On Monday, Bommai announced plans to build a high-speed rail link to the airport from Bengaluru.
The proposed 37-kilometre-long project will cut down travel time to the airport to just 20 minutes. At present, it takes up to two hours to reach the city centre from the airport.
Rajkumar Dugar, founder and convenor, Citizens for Citizens (C4C), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), told Khaleej Times on Tuesday that though the issue over protrusion-induced traffic snarls was taken up with several authorities over the years, the efforts were in vain.
“The protrusion at the traffic island has obstructed the smooth flow of traffic. Even the traffic police have repeatedly urged the BMRCL to remove it,” he said.
He added, “The protrusion causes enormous bottlenecks adding to the woes of motorists, two-wheeler riders and those commuters availing public transport. According to the traffic police, vehicles abruptly switch over from one extreme of the four-lane road to the other end near the square, which, at times, even causes accidents.”
The plans to shift the pier were in progress due to the traffic police's initiatives.
However, Bommai's announcement of the new link to the airport will bring an end to the proposal.
A BMRCL official told media persons that the pier was incorporated to ensure development of the new route to the airport.
The square, which is located in proximity to key hubs of the metropolis including MG road, Raj Bhavan and Cubbon road, has experienced many changes over the decades.
Earlier, it displayed a model of Ajeet, a single-seater jet-powered fighter aircraft manufactured by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), whose copyright belonged to British Folland Gnat.
The aircraft was kept at the spot after it was decommissioned in 1991.
In 2015, a full-scale mock-up model of Tejas, India’s light combat aircraft (LCA), replaced the statue of an unknown soldier, which had come up after the shifting of the Gnat. But that, too, has been relocated.
The square, which has a colourful background, is named after the Belarusian capital Minsk following a “Sister-city” tie-up in 1990 — a year before the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was split into Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and it became an independent country.
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