Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Court dismisses plea against BTC land

Court dismisses plea against BTC land

Staff Reporter
Lease agreement of BTC expires on December 31, 2009

‘Government planning to construct a

massive building on the land’

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Monday refused to be drawn into the controversy surrounding the Bangalore Turf Club and dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition by Girish Karnad, Suresh Heblikar, S.G. Vasudev, U.R. Ananthamurthy and several others questioning the wisdom of the State Government in proposing to convert the lush green lawns of the club into a mammoth concrete structure.

The petitioners wanted the High Court to stay any move by the Government to permit a skyscraper from coming upon the premises once the lease agreement of the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) expires on December 31, 2009.

The petitioners alleged that the Government was making surreptitious arrangements with a builder from Singapore to construct a massive building once the BTC vacates the 70-acre premises on Race Course Road.

They said the BTC land was the last of the remaining lung spaces in Bangalore and if the Government was permitted to go ahead with the real estate project, it would lead to further pollution and loss of green cover.

The petition justified the plea for retaining the green cover, saying that Bangalore was once host to 500 species of trees. However, increased urbanisation and growing number of vehicles had led to 200 species of trees disappearing from the city landscape. Moreover, the BTC land, if retained as it is, could help regenerate the ground water level by allowing filtration of rainwater.

It said air pollution was very high in Bangalore and one of the reasons for this is the loss of green cover. Nearly 45 per cent of the population suffer from chronic asthma. More disturbingly, scores of children are suffering from obstructive pulmonary disorders. It said on an average, a person in Bangalore every day inhales up to 10,000 (EDS: repeat 10,000) crores of suspended particulate matter (SPM) mostly resulting from vehicular exhaust, industrial pollution, construction material and waste. It just takes 30 seconds for these SPM to enter the bloodstream of a human being.They said the only way to cut down on the high levels of pollution was to have more green areas or preserve the lung spaces. The BTC land, they said, could be retained as a green space.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit said no order could be passed as the petitioners could not produce any record, document or government order saying that a building is coming up on BTC land. They observed that court could not pass orders merely on apprehension and dismissed the petition after recording the statement of the Government that it would not enter into any secret agreement with anybody on the land.

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