Bangalore, like every other metropolis in the country, is bursting at the seams. The population is projected to touch 10 million by the year 2012. Roads exceeded their carrying capacity years ago and the city has been through an intensive phase of fly-over construction and road-widening. The impact of these projects is limited and has done very little to ease congestion on the roads. The need for a Mass Transit System on rails is indisputable. Construction has been on at a feverish pace for some time now. The system has been christened 'Namma Metro' (Our Metro) and has acquired the status of Bangalore's marquee infrastructure project.
'Namma Metro' was mired in controversy well before the construction began. Everything from its route to design and technology, decisions had been debated by politicians, citizens groups and the corporate sector. Cost estimate which was around 6300 crores Indian Rupee when the project first started have now touched 11,000 crores. The second phase, which is yet to begin, is being pegged at around 40,000 crores Indian Rupee.
One of the most controversial parts of the routing is between Byapanhalli and MG Road. The routing cuts through one of the city's oldest and busiest shopping districts (the stretch from CMH Road to Ulsoor Main road). The routing was changed from Old Madras Road to CMH road after the Metro Rail authorities felt CMH road would attract more passenger traffic. Shop owners and residents disagree. They believe that inadequate parking space will make transit to and from the metro difficult and will end up reducing passenger traffic on the metro. A more sensitive and prickly challenge to having the 'Namma Metro' along Old Madras Road was that land would have to be acquired from religious institutions and burial grounds.
Since construction began in July 2008, shop owners on this stretch have lost approximately 75 per cent of their business.