No one wants to build BBMP skywalks

No response to at least two calls for expression of interest in the past four months.

Written by Harsha Raj Gatty | Bangalore | Published: October 18, 2013 5:50 am

A Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) proposal for 150 skywalks has hit a roadblock,with two calls for expression of interest going unanswered.

The BBMP,with a Rs 50-crore state support component,has identified Mekhri Circle,Minerva,corporation office,Mysore Road and other junctions to build the skywalks for pedestrian convenience.

However,despite floating multiple tenders in the past four months,no private builder had expressed interest to execute the project using the design-build-own-operate-transfer model,sources said,adding that the BBMP was now considering change of plans.

Pedestrian skywalks have been a controversial issue in Bangalore,with the utility of several existing ones in question. Not many people use the facility that is largely inaccessible to the elderly,children and the disabled.

Critics have been saying skywalks,which allow the setting up of hoardings,are nothing but a vehicle for the BBMP to earn additional revenue.

The BBMP responded with a proposal to automate all new skywalks by including elevators and promised lower heights. However,the lack of response from builders despite offers such as a 30-year contract to recover investment through advertisements,appears to have put paid to the corporation plan.

Private investors blamed the demands placed by local authorities. “While every unit may cost around Rs 1 crore,local administrators,unaware of business dynamics,are demanding kickbacks that are not feasible,’’ sources said.

Among the eight existing skywalks,only the ones at Kempe Gowda Road and Basaveshwara Circle get reasonable pedestrian traffic. Hardly anyone uses the ones at Residency,Seshadri,Palace,Bellary,Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Hosur roads,KR Puram and Ambedkar Veedhi.

Commuters are unwilling to climb 14 to 18 metres to cross a road.

“Skywalks do not correspond with pedestrian movement,they act as diversions commuters find unnecessary,” Ashwin Mahesh,a social technologist,said.

Sources said if the deadlock on tenders continued,the BBMP may be forced build the skywalks on its own.

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