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Hasire Usiru

Campaign to Reclaim Bangalore's Commons

Articles - Deccan Herald, May 4 2009

We must decide their future

(original article)

By Lakshmi Nilakantan

Noted environmentalist and former IFS officer A N Yellappa Reddy has said that it is 'unwise' to protest against the wanton felling of trees on Nanda Road (Lakshman Rao boulevard) and in Lalbagh for the Bangalore Metro project. "Project reduces pollution," says Reddy.

How in heaven's name can it be unwise to protest against what is not only illegal, but also catastrophic to the environment of Bangalore?

According the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, the government is legally bound to consult the public through a well laid out procedure on the issue of alignment of the Metro. Parks and public spaces are not the private property of the government. Public hearings are not private meetings of a select few influential people.

They are meant to be open consultations with the entire public. Till date, not a single public hearing on the Metro alignment has been held.

So much construction work has already been done on the Metro in flagrant violation of the provisions of the Act. Is it wise then to rethink of alignment now? Aren't we presented with a fait accompli situation that we must accept our collective loss of heritage parks and move on?


It is shocking that Reddy, who should inspire people to fight against injustice, has instead joined ranks with those who abuse power and violate law, and has given vent to his cynicism thus: "When half of Bangalore has been destroyed, why raise a hue and cry now? The city once had 300 lakes and how many of them exist today." The question should be: where were people like him, who had the power to do something.

There are many alternative alignments to the Metro that have never been publicly debated � alternative alignments that do not cut into public parks, that do not have the technically unsound right angle bends, etc. It is the officials' job to put their technical skills to good purpose and design a Metro system. But it is our civic duty to ensure that the government works for the public and its welfare, in conformance with the law.

Trees and open green spaces are physical, emotional, psychological and aesthetic requirements for a healthy public. A tree is indeed a living embodiment of 'Shanti,' asking for so little, yet providing all of us with life-energy. To chop down those trees in Lalbagh and along Nanda Road would undoubtedly be desecration.

With the grisly spectre of global warming leering at us from all sides, it would indeed be an incomparably tragic footnote in Bangalore's history if we were to abdicate our very humanity to a bureaucracy.

(The writer is a consultant statistician and game theorist)

ESG is an independent not-for-profit organisation that promotes the cause of environmental and social justice through research, documentation, advocacy, training and campaign support. We aim to support the rights of local communities and voiceless ecosystems in a responsible, progressive manner that keeps contextual complexities in mind.

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