Big Efforts for City Decongestion: Bangalore Peripheral Ring Road

The proposed alignment of PRR will be located at an approximate radial distance of 17 km - 25 km from the city center and is envisaged to be a bypass to the city for the long-distance personalized vehicles (cars and cabs) and commercial vehicles (trucks and LCVs).

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Bangalore Peripheral Ring Road
Bangalore Peripheral Ring Road
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Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) 

The PRR is planned as a 74 km stretch with a 100-meter-wide road. On completion, it will connect Tumakuru Road and Hosur Road via Hessaraghatta Road, Doddaballapur Road, Ballari Road, Hennur-Bagalur Road, Old Madras Road, Hoskote-Anekal Road, and Sarjapur Road. Along with NICE Road, which links Tumakuru Road and Hosur Road via the city’s northwestern, western and southwestern areas, Bengaluru will have a 116-km-long bypass on its periphery.

The proposed alignment of PRR will be located at an approximate radial distance of 17 km – 25 km from the city center and is envisaged to be a bypass to the city for the long-distance personalized vehicles (cars and cabs) and commercial vehicles (trucks and LCVs). The total land requirement for the project, which was initially estimated to be 733 hectares (1811.28 acres), was later revised to 1036.51 hectares (2561.27 acres) due to the change in length of PRR from 65.5 km to 74 km. The increase in length was due to realignment and inclusion of cloverleaf structures to integrate at Tumkur Road and Hosur Road with NICE road.

The project’s total cost is Rs 14,934 crores, out of which Rs 9,318 crore is required for land acquisition and rehabilitation purposes, while the construction cost is estimated to be around Rs 5,600 crores. The state government has already provided administrative approval for the project. When originally conceptualized 15 years ago with the aim of decongesting Bengaluru and easing traffic, the project was estimated to be Rs 3,000 crore. But due to design, rapid urbanization, and land acquisition challenges, the project could never take off despite repeated attempts.

The project is very significant to Bangalore city because it is expected to address serious traffic challenges. According to local authorities and the state government, Bengaluru needs PRR given the massive geographical expansion of the city to the current spread of 2196 sq km and explosive growth of vehicular ownership (2019 estimate – over 80 lakhs). The ring road is also expected to provide massive economic benefits. Bengaluru has been attempting to complete several large ring road projects to improve its city-region connectivity and alleviate traffic congestion. A Satellite Town Ring Road (STRR) is currently under construction.

Environmental Issues

The project has received initial environmental clearance, which was required as it involves the diversion of 7.91 hectares (19.54 acres) of forest land in the Jarakabandekaval reserve forest. Since the boundary of Bannerghatta National Park and Puttenahalli bird conservation reserve is located at a distance of 7.21 Km and 1.49 Km, respectively, additional approvals were required. The proposed PRR alignment is close to Peenya Industrial Area and Jigani-Bommasandra Industrial Area, which are notified as severely polluted and critically polluted areas by CPCB.

As per the environmental impact assessment (EIA) done for the project, 36,824 trees will have to be uprooted for the project. At Thippagondanahalli reservoir, 20 km of the proposed road will be built and 13,355 trees will come in the way of the project. More than 630 trees have been identified in the Jarakabande Kaval reserve forest area.

Environmental groups also say that there are six lakes along the proposed road alignment, and construction will result in a significant loss of habitat for small mammals like squirrels and bats and birds like the Black kite, Brahminy kite, Common buzzard, and the Indian peafowl. They argue that about 555 hectares (1,371 acres) of farmland will also be lost to the PRR.

BDA has proposed to mitigate the impact of the PRR on the environment by planting ten trees for every tree removed (a total of 3,38,380 trees to be plated). BDA has also undertaken to erect barriers on both sides of the road construction site to mitigate dust and air pollution. It has promised that no materials will be dropped from a height greater than 3 feet to minimize dust and that water will be sprinkled on the construction site at least three times a day.

It is also to note that, approximately 33,000 trees will be felled for PRR development, which has sparked concerns from environmentalists. This project will also affect forest land in Jarakabandekaval and six water bodies. The authorities have laid out a plan for planting trees in lieu of those that would be axed. However, the final Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report is still awaited as some details of the project have now been revised. To construct the PRR in Bangalore, land in around 67 villages will have to be acquired, spread across 8 districts. These are:

  • Yeshwanthpur
  • Hesaraghatta
  • Yelahanka
  • KR Puram
  • Bidhrahalli
  • Varthur
  • Sarjapur
  • Attibele

Land Acquisition Challenges

A major legal hurdle for the project was cleared in Nov 2021 after the Supreme Court directed the Karnataka government and the Bangalore Development Authority to acquire the land for the formation of PRR and proceed to implement the project. The SC permitted the project to go ahead in response to an affidavit filed by the Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, Urban Development Department, Bengaluru.

Of the total land notified, government land consists of about 114.20 hectares, Kharab land consists of 43.43 hectares, and the remaining private land is 555.57 hectares. A section of land owners oppose BDA’s proposal to compensate them under the BDA Act and have demanded compensation under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Act 2013. According to an estimate by BDA that was done in 2021, the land acquisition cost would shoot up by more than Rs 14,000 crores if the compensation package is fixed as per the 2013 Act. Even when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government passed the bill in 2013, the critics pointed out that it would increase the cost of infrastructure dramatically. While the National Democratic Alliance government attempted to dilute the law by ordinances etc, it abandoned the idea after opposition from allies and a lack of majority in the Rajya Sabha. BDA and the state government may need to come up with some innovative funding ideas to resolve the problem.

Timeline & Major Phases

  • The project was mooted in 2005-06 by the then government.
  • Between 2006 and 2010, the land acquisition process hit a roadblock with a number of landowners approaching Courts.
  • In 2011, the High Court canceled the project due to delays. The government then revised the length of the road to 65 km and sought the Court’s permit for land acquisition.
  • The project got environmental clearance in 2014, and by 2015, the Urban Development Department gave its assent to the project.

Now, with the Supreme Court giving its nod for land acquisition, the project has been brought back to life. Also, the original length of the road has been revised from 65 km to 73.5 km to enable the linking of the road with the BMICP Expressway, or the NICE Road as it is locally called. Japanese agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), was roped in to finance this project. Initially, the project’s cost was pegged at Rs 3,000 crore, which has jumped to Rs 21,000 crore now, with land acquisition forming the bulk of this amount.

Summary

The Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) is the third Ring Road of Bangalore developed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). The 73 km circular road will lead from Hosur Road and connect to Tumakaru Road and NICE Road to form a complete circle around the boundaries of Bangalore.

After being on the drawing board for several years, the Peripheral Ring Road Project (PRR) has finally received a nod from the Karnataka government. The mega project would encircle the peripheral areas of Bangalore, the city best known for its IT/ITeS hubs and new-age businesses. Once through, the development will create new connectivity points and fillip the realty landscape in Bangalore by and large.

Special Features

As per the plans, the Peripheral Ring Road will be a 73 km circular road, with eight lanes (100 meters wide) and four service lanes. It will cover areas of  North and East Bangalore and Anekal. The stretch will start from NICE Road Junction at Tumkur Road, pass through Bellary Road, Old Madras Road and end at National Highway- 44 on Hosur Road. Further, it will also be integrated with the semi-circular NICE Road near BIEC and near Konappana Agrahara.

About 2,400 acres of land are expected to be acquired for the road. The project will be executed via a public-private partnership on the Design-Build Finance Operate and Transfer model. The road developer will get a concession to collect tolls for 50 years to meet the funding targets of the project and recover its costs and profits. Once completed, the road will have 17 toll plazas and two clover field junctions at Old Madras Road and Airport Road. A total of nine entry and exit points have been identified with five flyovers, four underpasses, and five Railway Overbridges (ROB).

As per the project plan, someplace in the median will be left vacant for metro projects in the future. It will also have provisions for a helipad and electronic charging stations for EVs.

The Need for the Third Ring Road

At present, Bangalore has two Ring Roads. The Inner Ring Road links Indiranagar to Koramangala, while the Outer Ring Road (ORR), which is 60 km long, links all the highways that converge into Bangalore, including five National and five State Highways. These include Mysore Road, Bannerghatta Road, Tumkur Road, Magadi Road, and Kanakpura Road, among others.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 heavy vehicles use the Outer Ring Road, which is also facing pressure from the growing real estate around it. The new Kempegowda International Airport also pushes the vehicular traffic here. Keeping in mind the traffic burden on existing roads and the increasing number of new vehicles in Bangalore (the district is witnessing a 10 percent annual vehicle growth), the Peripheral Ring Road received renewed interest from policymakers.

Latest Update

In April this year, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), the nodal authority tasked with the responsibility for providing civil amenities for the metropolis, floated a global tender inviting construction infrastructure firms to submit bids to develop a greenfield 8-lane, 74 km PRR through a public-private partnership (PPP) on design, build, finance, operate and transfer model (PPP-DBFOT).

It may be noted that the tenders were previously invited in March but have to be scrapped at the last moment due to technical glitches. This is the second time the tenders have been floated without any changes in the terms and conditions. Earlier, the farmer’s agitation delayed the construction as disputes relating to land acquisition reached the Courts. However, the authorities have now received a go-ahead from the Supreme Court. Global tenders were invited by BDA last year. An Israeli firm, Symba Maz, has expressed interest to invest in this project, the cost for which has now escalated to Rs 21,250 crore.

As per the tender terms, the winning concessionaire will get a 50-year lease period for collection of the toll to recover the cost and then hand over the project to the State Government. The winning concessionaire would also be required to pay upfront part of the land-acquisition cost. The BDA also notified the last date for submission of the bids as May 18 and the bid opening date was May 20. However, as per few reports in June again, BDA decided to scrap the tender process and announced that it would issue a fresh one. The decision to scrap the tender was attributed to queries from potential investors who participated in the tender process, seeking clarification on the land acquisition cost.

The government has created a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called the Bengaluru PRR Development Corporation Ltd for implementing this project. Formal tenders are expected to be invited soon to finalise a developer for this road. With the Cabinet approval in place, the project seems to be moving up from the drawing board to the implementation stage. Once constructed, this road project would significantly ease the high-traffic areas and have a strong effect on the real estate market in Bangalore.

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