Campaign to Reclaim Bangalore's Commons
Press Release: 19 May 2009
An Update on the PIL against the alignment of Bangalore Metro through Lalbagh and Lakshman Rao boulevard
Mr. Justice N. K. Patil and Mr. Justice V. Jagannathan constituting a Division Bench (on vacation) of the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka heard a PIL filed by Environment Support Group, Leo F. Saldanha and Hasiru Usiru, and ordered notices on the Respondents to appear in the matter during its next hearing on 21 May 2009.
The case presents the facts that:
- The Ordinance issued by His Excellency the Governor of Karnataka on 22 November 2008 alienating a portion of Lalbagh (for Metro) and Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park in Cubbon Park limits (for road widening) has lapsed as the Government of Karnataka failed to get an assent to a Bill to replace the Ordinance when the Legislature met subsequently.
- Prior to the issuance of the Ordinance, i.e. on 20 November 2008, the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board issued a Sec 28 (1) Notification for acquisition of a portion of Lalbagh for the Metro.
- That even when the Ordinance has lapsed, the Government proceeded to issue an Order to Horticulture Dept to alienate 1135 sq metres of Lalbagh for Metro. This portion was to be sold by Horticulture Department to BMRCL, which in turn can put it to any use that it deems fit in future.
Presenting the case, Counsel Sunil Dutt Yadav argued that the entire alignment through R. V Road is in blatant violation of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, which the Hon'ble High Court in PIL WP 7107/2008 (Environment Support Group and ors, vs. State of Karnataka and ors.) has held must be strictly complied with along with the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act. In the instant case, trees have been felled inside Lalbagh in blatant violation of these laws. A document of the Horticulture Department was produced to reveal that no permission has been taken prior to felling trees inside Lalbagh. And similarly no notification has at all been issued in conformance with the KTCP Act or Government Parks Act to set aside portions of Lalbagh, Lakshman Rao Park and K. R. Road for the Metro and its stations, and similarly from the Fountain Park for BBMP. If such is the case inside some of the most protected parks in the State, the fate of other such spaces in other parts of the State can only be imagined.
When the Court queried the Respondents for compliance, BMRCL was not able to demonstrate such. Taking note of the earlier stay order against felling of trees directed by the Court in PIL No 12954-12957/2009, the Court ordered the case to be listed for hearing again on 21 May. To the prayer for extension of the stay against tree felling, the Division Bench explicitly stated that tree felling could not be undertaken as there was an undertaking to that effect from the Respondents, and they would not violate such an undertaking to the Court.
Leo F. Saldanha (Party in person)
on behalf of
Environment Support Group and Hasiru Usiru
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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.