The ongoing metro project means a lot of dust, traffic disruptions and noise. For the past two years, Bangaloreans have been ‘adjusting’ to the inconvenience and anticipating the day they can take a ride on the metro.
I’m not sure if the work is on schedule but it does seem to be progressing very quickly. First I watched the trees being chopped down on CMH and MG Roads and whole blocks of buildings being razed to the ground. Then came the iron rods poking out of the ground. These then became concrete pillars. Then huge pieces of concrete were stuck together to become a viaduct, which each day would slowly make progress, metre-by-metre, across the cityscape. The skeletons of the metro stations are already there.
Work goes on around the clock, day and night, with workers putting in 12-hour shifts. There are over 3000 workers working on the metro project. They have come from all over India but most are from the states of Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. I see them carrying iron rods, operating equipment and tottering on shaky scaffolding wearing yellow hard hats. Some look very young. They are here far away from their families and stay in the temporary accommodation provided for them. They earn 12,000 rupees (200 EUR / 163 GBP / 266 CAD / 257 USD) a month and probably send most of their money home to their families. They work on day shift for 15 days followed by night shift for the next 15 days, with a holiday after 30 days of work.
There’s a metro carriage on display on MG Road. People can go inside, sit on the seats and imagine what it will be like to travel on the metro.
Since Chief Minister Yeddyrappa announced that the first stretch of the new metro line will be operational by the end of the year (I’m not sure how optimistic this is), I no longer see the traffic snarls and construction sites as a nuisance. Instead, I see a bridge in the sky and I see myself flying above the treetops from Indiranagar to MG Road in air-conditioned comfort, with no traffic jams to slow me down. I’m far away from the choking exhaust and sound of car horns and sputtering auto-rickshaws. Down below I see a long line of auto-rickshaws, and their drivers standing on the road in their beige uniforms begging people not to take the metro but to use their services instead. They’re even offering a 10 rupee discount with a smile and a promise to go wherever the passenger desires to go... But people are walking past them, without giving them even the slightest sign of acknowledgment... because now they have Namma Metro.
Photo by Birashis.