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FAQ information document for the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure corridor problem
Aug 2000: This document attempts to addresss frequently asked questions on the BMIC project and was compiled with information from the Environment Support Group, Bangalore, India and articles in the Indian Press .
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1.Who are the sponsors of this project?

2.What is the project plan as stated by the sponsors?

3.What is the cost of the project?

4.When was this project originally thought of?

5.How do the project promoters justify the project?

6.What are the social and geographical features of the project sites?

7.How much land in involved and how many people will be affected by this project?

8.What is the land acquisition plan?

9.What are the expected environmental impacts?

10.What is the resettlement and rehabilitation plan for affected families?

11.What are past experiences of projects in the area?

12.How will water be supplied to the seven proposed townships?

13.What has been the basis of clearance of the project by the Government of Karnataka (GOK)? What the concerned reader can do ?

14. At what stage is the project evaluation process?

15. What are the specific demands (as of July 8, 2000) of the project affected people and environmentalists?

16. What about alternatives?

17. What can you do?


1. Who are the sponsors of this project?

The Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) was proposed by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises Ltd (NICE). NICE is a consortium created for the purpose of executing this project and consists of :

  • Kalyani group of Pune, India
  • Vanasse Hangen Brustlin(VHB) Inc of the USA, and
  • SAB international Ltd. of the USA.
[NOTE:As of April 2001, VHB has denied ever being part of this consortium, and to know more, click here.]

2. What is the project plan as stated by the promoters?

The primary goal of the project is to build a 6 lane expressway between Bangalore and Mysore. The expressway is planned to be 111.0 km long with a 9.1km link road into downtown Bangalore. NICE will collect toll and maintain the expressway for 30-40 years after its completion.

In addition to this expressway, the project includes a massive real estate development plan. Seven townships were initially proposed south of the present Mysore Road (SH17) which are to subsidise the expressway costs. The nature of the townships proposed include a Corporate Centre, Commercial Centre, Industrial Centre, Farming and Marketing Centre, Heritage Centre, Agricultural Centre and Eco-Tourism Centre (including a professional standard 18 hole golf course). The number of townships proposed has now been reduced to five, to ensure economic viability of the project.

Another stated purpose of the townships is to act as magnets to attract people away from Bangalore (population 6 million) due to the extent to which it has burgeoned in recent years. The claim is that the townships will accommodate 500,000 people.

However, no concrete evidence has been offered by the project proponents as to whether the Bangalore population wish to move away from Bangalore or whether potential residents of Bangalore would prefer one of the townships. Thus there is no indication whatsoever of the demand that these townships will generate.

There is also no evidence to prove that those who move away from Bangalore will not be replaced by others. It may be fair to say for example that those who are displaced by this project may be forced to 8 acres is under the Government, consisting of 4460 acres of "waste land" and 168 acres of "forest land". The private lands constitute "wasteland" (290 ac), "rain fed agricultural land" (13,092 ac), "irrigated agricultural land" (1946 ac), and "garden land" (237 ac) amounting to a total of 15,565 acres.

However, the exact survey nos. of the areas to be acquired has not been provided. Over 1500 farming families are likely to be dislocated by the project due to direct displacement and there is no assessment of those that are likely to be affected indirectly.

3. What is the cost of the project?

The anticipated cost is Rs. 2,000 crores (US $ 500 million). As stated above, NICE will collect toll and maintain the expressway for 30-40 years after its completion. The project has been allowed a 10 year tax holiday.

4. When was this project originally thought of?

The idea of a BMIC took birth when the Government of Karnataka (GOK) expressed interest during the late 1980's of constructing an expressway connecting Bangalore and Mysore. However, it did not materialise then due to lack of financial resources.

5. How do the project promoters justify the project?

The primary justification for the project presently is that the existing state highways, SH17 (Bangalore-Mysore Road) and SH86 (Kanakapura Road), both averaging 140 kms length (approx.), cannot be expanded to accommodate the projected increase in traffic. While statements to this effect have been made in the Executive Summary of the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment Report), a factual qualification of this conclusion however, has not been provided. NICE insists that its toll based 6 lane expressway guaranteeing travel speeds of 120 kmph is essential. As for the proposed corridor townships, it provides no justification whatsoever, to prove its claim that there is a willingness to move amongst the residents of Bangalore who can afford to live in the corridor towns.

In Annexure 2 of Form XIII of the Executive Summary, the proposal of development of Bangalore City as a Mega City involves the "improvement of some of the towns around Bangalore as a counter magnet to Bangalore City". No where does it mention the formation of "new" townships, as has been construed by the proponents, to act as counter magnets to Bangalore City.

6. What are the social and geographical features of the project sites?

The road from Bangalore to Mysore is surrounded by prime agricultural and forest land. Villages dot the area and farms extend to the edges of the present roads.

7. How much land and how many people will be affected by this project?

The project requires 20,193 acres of land and the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) has already initiated the acquisition process on behalf of the consortium at "fair market value". Of this land, 4628 acres is under the Government, consisting of 4460 acres of "waste land" and 168 acres of "forest land". The private lands constitute "wasteland" (290 ac), "rain fed agricultural land" (13,092 ac), "irrigated agricultural land" (1946 ac), and "garden land" (237 ac) amounting to a total of 15,565 acres.

However, the exact survey nos. of the areas to be acquired has not been provided. Over 1500 farming families are likely to be dislocated by the project due to direct displacement and up to 200,000 persons are likely to be affected indirectly by the project.

8. What is the land acquisition plan?

According to recent Government policy, part of the project costs is to be subsidised by providing Government lands at Rs. 10/acre for a period of 40 years to NICE, and is admittedly a contribution to the scheme by the State.

The total cost of "Land Acquisition" is proposed to be at Rs. 4,500 million (Rs.450 crores). Considering only Rs. 18 lakhs (Rs 1.8 million) would be the gain for the Government in exchange for over 4600 acres of land, this is a highly questionable trade-off given the irreversible nature of this acquisition. Also, given the fact that farmers are not being compensated at "fair market" value, it appears that the entire project is being subsidised by a land for infrastructure scheme.

As the actual value at which the developed land may be sold is not being revealed, it may thus be surmised that the project developers benefit from the largesse of the State at one level, whilst completely exploiting farmers of grossly undervaluing their loss.

Land acquisition and compensation is a major concern for affected farmers. As one farmer from Alavadi in Mandya district said, ``Ours is a highly irrigated area. You want this for the townships. Does it make any sense to destroy fertile land? Can't you divert just this segment to go around our land to the dry lands beyond?'' Read more at http://www.timesofindia.com/060700/06mban16.htm

9. What are the environmental impacts that need consideration?

Forests

Environmentalists claim that the project will pass through 2,968 acres of the Badamanavarthi Kaval forest in Bangalore Urban District, and 4,075 acres of the Handigundi and Chikkamanagude forests in Bangalore Rural District.

K.V. Narendra, Director of the Centre for Science and Technology points out that ``It is an irony that after the forest department has spent about Rs 9.57 (Rs. 95 million) crore as part of the OECF loan during 1998-99 by the forest department for regeneration and reforestation in Bangalore urban and rural divisions, both are being used up in the corridor project,'' Read more.

On the same subject, Sudarsanam Sridhar of Wetlands International said promoters plan to mow down these trees and have mislead people by filing a writ petition stating no forest land will be used. He told The Hindu that the Forest Department has given the go-ahead for the project despite knowing that large tracts of forests would be destroyed.

Several species of flora and fauna, some rare will be adversely affected. Mr. Narendra claims that the executive summary report on the project does not mention the details of [flora or fauna] survey numbers. Citing violations of provisions of Section 2 (1) and (2) of the Forest Conservation Act, the centre has written to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) for suitable action as per the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Read more.

Lakes and Tanks

Apart from destroying prime agricultural and forest land, Mr. Sridhar warns that 8 lakes in the vicinity of the corridor will be destroyed due to the development. He said that Mr. Kheny, Managing Director of NICE had released statements saying that 251 lakes would be desilted in place of the lakes that would be destroyed. ``NICE will need to move nearly two crore lorry loads and spend Rs. 1,255 crores to desilt that many lakes. But they have only budgeted Rs. 2,000 crores for the entire project. Where will they find money for desilting?'' he asks.

Furthermore, lake expert Dr S. T. Somashekhar Reddy of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) warns that Bangalore`s entire lake eco-system will be severely disturbed if the State Government builds the proposed peripheral road which will bisect Gottigere lake, a 500-year-old live tank on the City's outskirts. The peripheral road is proposed in the Revised Comprehensive Development Plan, 2011 under planning district No.13A-1 of Bangalore. 'Gottigere is an ecologically important live tank which feeds the Hulimaavu, Madivala and the Bellandur tanks. If this lake is killed, Madivala will lose an important feeder source of water and the Rs two crore already spent on restoring Madivala will be wasted," he said. Read more.

Water

Mr. Sridhar pointed out that Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise Limited has also entered into an agreement with the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board for use of 156 mld of water and this will affect the supply of Cauvery water to Bangalore. "While most townships are proposed to be set up on the banks of the river Cauvery and Kanva, how can the company claim that it will occupy dry land?" he asks.

10. What is the resettlement and rehabilitation plan for affected families?

Nowhere in the five expenditure heads that are presented in the "Executive Summary" of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) does the "Resettlement and Rehabilitation" (R&R) component appear.

The section on R&R in the EIA provides no details of compensation for socio-economic losses to be incurred by the affected communities. Instead in a little over a page, the EIA informs that the "Project is designed to serve as a catalyst for community development, growth of jobs and services and improved housing opportunities. The project is likely to open enormous opportunities for skilled and unskilled manpower and the local population is more likely to gain out of this. The project has a large potential for economic and social growth of the affected area and PAP/PAF (Project Affected People/Project Affected Families). The project philosophy has been towards reaching the development benefits to as many people as possible and for creating conditions for sustained growth of local people and their integration with the all round modernisation process. The project is aimed at helping the people of the region with basic infrastructure facilities and modern amenities - planned or incidental, as a result of the project implementation."

However, no credible evidence is extended to justify how such social development will be ensured.

In a very roundabout way the project tries to justify that the corridor will generate jobs for the displaced. The EIA explicitly mentions that only 700 jobs will be created for a period of 10 years which the project developers claim will be extended to the affected population firstly. The fate of those affected families who remain unemployed is not addressed, nor is the issue of the future of those involved in the construction phase after the 10 year construction period.

In view of this, the veracity of various claims that the project will benefit the local population of the "study area", consisting of approximately 500,000 people in a 10 km radius of the corridor, can only be guessed.

Furthermore, the "philosophy and principles" section of the R&R package asserts that as "a result (of the project) there will be an increase in average consumption which is a most important indicator of socio-economic development". No indication is given of how this will support the displaced communities.

11. What are past experiences of projects in this area?

A citizen of Bangalore, Mr. P.V. Krishnaswamy, has pointed out that the villagers in the proposed BMIC project area had been displaced when the Kanva river work was taken up and they would be again shuttled elsewhere because of this project.

Farmers who had given up lands for the Devanahalli Airport are languishing now thus there is a fear that those that make way for the BMIC will meet a similar fate. Read more.

12. How will water be supplied to the seven proposed townships?

There are some concerns regarding the quantity of water that will be consumed during the construction phase and post establishment. (The Government of Karnataka has endorsed an agreement between NICE and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board towards providing potable water supply for the five townships to be provided by drawal of 2 TMC water from Cauvery River.)

Bangalore is already facing a serious water crisis, and is not able to provide even half the recommended water consumption of 200 liters per capita per day. Given this, it is not clear how Cauvery water will sustain another 5 townships.

13. What has been the basis of clearance of the project by the Government of Karnataka (GOK)?

According to the Government Order No.PWD 32 CSR 95, Bangalore dated 28th November 1995 the various Ministries of the Karnataka Government including Finance, Revenue, Home, Public Works, Major and Medium Industries, Major Irrigation and the High Level Committee all examined the proposal and found it suitable as a "foreign capital investment case".

The same order also admits that "taking advantage of the liberalisation policy in India, many of the private companies and consortia took interest and were collecting data and also enquiring with the Government. When His Excellency, the Governor of Massachusetts State, USA, during his visit to India, had discussion with Hon'ble Chief Minister of Karnataka on 20th February 1995, the Government of Karnataka entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the consortium of M/s Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. and S.A.B. Engineering and Construction Inc., USA and M/s Kalyani Group Ltd. Under this MOU, the consortium has to conduct preliminary investigations, economic surveys, etc. for the expressway between Bangalore-Mysore and submit a preliminary project report to the Government and if this project is economically feasible, the Government could take further action."

The order proposes a scheme for making this massive project viable. It is described that "the project work will be constructed completely by private entrepreneurs with their own resources and keeping with them for thirty years to get their return of the expenditure, profit, etc. through collection of tolls. The land acquisition expenditure will also be borne by them. To make this project viable they had proposed seven townships", described earlier in this note, and the presumption is that by the townships will "disperse the density of the population in Bangalore" and thus "it is given to understand that there will be not much problem for providing drinking water".

The order also states that such a proposal "has been examined in detail" and that for the implementation of the above project, there is no expenditure from the Government side. To facilitate land acquisition and also to fix up fair-market rate with the benefit to provide one job per family who are disturbed due to land acquisition or to provide separately land and give reasonable expenditure or to give on house at subsidised rate, it would be necessary to have one of two Land Acquisition officers." The order then suggests that "considering five townships instead of seven townships would be economically viable." Despite the claims that examination of the project has been done in "detail", a careful reading of the available documents suggest that guesstimates have been the basis of the decision to clear this project.

14. At what stage is the project evaluation process?

At a Public Hearing on March 09, 2000 Mr. Sanaulla, District Commissioner (Bangalore Urban) directed Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to comply with the peaceful request of the public gathered to provide more detailed (public domain) documentation on the project.

In particular, the translated versions in Kannada were requested, as the flimsy Executive Summary provided by the project proponent did not provide any information of substance. This decision was taken after due consultation with the Panel, members of the Public and the Project Proponents, and witnessed and reported by the Press. A video taping of the same reveals this aspect clearly.

Despite the promises of the District Commissioner, not one of these non-confidential requested documents has been made public, let alone in the local language. Public hearings planned for June 30, July 3 and July 5, 2000 in Mysore, Mandya and Bangalore respectively to receive various viewpoints on the project were held despite this lack of this basic information about the project.

These hearings were anything but "public".

Farmers, environmentalists and other affected groups attended all hearings but were NOT given a reasonable opportunity to express their views. Their follow-up requests for the promised documents went unheeded. In a most egregious act during the July 5 hearings, police brutalised, assaulted and arrested more than 30 peaceful representatives of the farming and environmental community, including women and elderly activists. Orders for the arrests were given by he District Commissioner. Their only crime was to have again requested the public domain documents in a civilised manner.

Well known environmentalist, Mr. Leo Saldanha was kicked and then dragged down a staircase before being thrown outside. He was not told that he was under arrest and given a chance to walk out peacefully as is required under law. All those arrested were held until 5.30 pm thus effectively preventing them from attending the hearing to air their views. During the arrests not one panel member raised an objection to the violent treatment of the peaceful demonstrators.

Following the forceful eviction of these peaceful participants the hearing continued with primarily pro-project groups present. Ironically police did not expel a drunken, vociferous group who were apparently hired by the project proponents to shout slogans in favor of the project.

15. What are the specific demands (as of July 8, 2000) of the project affected people and environmentalists?

For sometime now they have been requesting the following public domain documents in the local language, Kannada:

1. Environment Impact Assessment with Socio-economic components
2. Rehabilitation and Resettlement Report
3. Environmental Risk Assessment Report
4. Techno-economic Feasibility Report
5. Memorandum of Understanding
6. Project Report
7. Frame Work Agreement - 1997
8. NICE (Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise) -KIADB (Karnataka Industrial Area development board) Agreement
9. NICE-BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board) Agreement
10. NICE-KEB (Karnataka Electricity Board) Agreement
11. 1999 October Supplementary Agreement

  • It would be in the interests of the Government of Karnataka and the proponents to demonstrate the transparency of this project and thus increase public confidence by issuing these public, non-confidential documents. In addition, sufficient time should be provided for the public to review these documents and then further fair, just and peaceful public hearings MUST be held.
  • Given the conduct of these latest "public hearings" (June 30, July 3, and July 5), they demand that these hearings be declared null and void.
  • Mr. Sanaulla, District Commissioner (Bangalore Urban) must be suspended and a comprehensive and transparent enquiry into the assaults on non-violent activists must be ordered.
  • Based on the (limited and conflicting) information that the project proponents have provided thus far, the project affected peoples and environmentalists are against the building of the proposed townships. According to a Deccan Herald article dated July 6, 2000, farmers demanded a fair and definite amount of compensation for their lands and trees and scrapping the proposal for satellite towns, industrial centre and eco-tourism centres in the Kanva Reservoir and forest lands along the corridor.
  • Once the public have access to the public domain documents, are given time to review them, and fair hearings are conducted, there may be further concerns and demands based on new information gathered through these documents.

16. What about alternatives?

The Government of Karnataka is seriously considering doubling the railway line however NICE has argued that this would reduce the commercial viability of the BMIC project.

Similarly, NICE feels upgrading existing highways would also reduce the commercial viability of their project.

In the project Environmental Appraisal Statement, NICE makes the following statements with regard to "Altenative Alignments/Sites Examined":

1. "Possibility of up-gradation of SH-86 to Expressway standards was studied and found to be unsuitable both from environmental and economic angles". (Facts to verify this claim are NOT provided)

2. "Possibility of up-gradation of SH-17 to the Expressway standards was studied and found to be unsuitable as widening of this road is constrained by the Railway line running along side". (Facts to verify this claim are NOT provided)

3. "Ribbon developments and religious structure interfere with the improvement of Road geometrics and the state highway required strengthening of base and sub-base at various stretches." (Facts to verify this claim are NOT provided)

4. "Non-instrumented surveys conducted to establish a new alignment both towards the south and north of present State Highway No. 17 revealed that the north alignment is encountered with steep hillocks and valleys near Ramangaram. The Expressway could not meet the IRC (Indian Road Congress) standards in negotiating these regions."

5. Finally, the alignment running along south of SH-17 was only found to be most suitable. This aspect was further confirmed by Regional Remote Sensing Service Centre of M/s ISRO. The Regional Remote Sensing Service Centre were also involved in identifying the location for Townships." (Facts to verify this claim are NOT provided)

17. What can you do?
To act on the latest situation, readers are referred to the BMIC main page.

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