The Karnataka government on Thursday dropped the controversial steel flyover project in Bengaluru.

The decision to abandon the ₹1,800-crore, 6.9-km, six-lane steel bridge between Chalukya Circle in the heart of the city and Hebbal was announced by Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town Planning KJ George.

Public opposition

The proposal drew widespread criticism as the project would have resulted in axing about 800 trees. The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) had not consulted the public before pushing the project. People took to the streets shouting ‘steel flyover beeda’ (No to steel flyover).

The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had stayed the project.

George told reporters that the decision to scrap the plan was taken after consultation with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah following city Congress MLAs’ advice to the government to drop the project as the BJP was trying to cash in on allegations that the project involved a kickback of ₹65 crore.

Following the disclosure of what is claimed to be a diary seized by the Income Tax Department from the house of MLC Govindaraju that had several entries, including one which said ‘Steel bridge 65 cr’ in the received column, the project became a political hot potato, said a senior Congressman.

Party sources said, Karnataka State Congress in-charge Digvijay Singh advised the party coordination committee to drop the project. Sources said though the veracity of the diary was being contested, the purported entry was the only pointer to corruption in the project. The Congress did not want to give any credence to the bribery charge.

Opposition onslaught

Ever since the project was announced, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been opposing the project and in the last couple of weeks, BJP State president BS Yeddyurappa had accused Chief Minister of receiving a kickback of ₹65 crore from the promoters of the project.