Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Former BBMP head cut his road through university

Former BBMP head cut his road through university


Imran KhanFirst Published : 14 Sep 2009 03:34:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 14 Sep 2009 07:28:28 AM IST
BANGALORE: It is a road that should never have been laid. And it is being done by chopping trees that are legally protected, inside the campus of the Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra (GKVK), University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), which was set up for ‘bringing the greatest possible co-ordination of basic activities in the service of agriculture.’ A number of resolutions and government orders, copies of which are with the Express, have shown that the construction of the 9-km long Yesvantpur- Yelahanka Main Road link expressway connecting to Bellary Road, is being done by running roughshod over regulations and in face of a stringent opposition from the UAS.
The former Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner S Subramanya who is now principal secretary, agriculture department, appears to be the driving force behind the project, making full use of both his roles.
The proposal for the link road through GKVK campus was not part of the draft Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) of 2015, issued by the Bangalore Development Authority in 2005. However, it mysteriously makes its way in the finalised plan of June 25, 2007.
This is a violation of the Karnataka Town and Country planning Act of 1961, as the proposal was not notified in the draft CDP.
Ignoring this, Subramanaya, in February this year invited short-term tender for the road.
After becoming aware of this notice, the Registrar, UAS immediately brought the matter to the Principal Secretary to the Governor by way of a letter on February 24, requesting him to “to intervene in this matter and suggest (to) the Commissioner of BBMP to defer the work.”This intervention is significant because this was done following the government order granting land to GKVK. The July 15, 1968 order number AFD249FGL66 by the under-secretary, Agriculture and Forest department, had transferred 667 acres of forest land, which included sandalwood trees to UAS for setting up the GKVK campus at Jakkur. A mandatory requirement under the order was: “The university will preserve the forest and plant more trees with their program.’’ On March 4, the Karnataka Governor’s Secretariat wrote to the secretary to Agricultural Department drawing attention to the university’s letter with the request to “...take up the matter with the urban development department in the government and cause to resolve the issues.’’ On March 21, Subramanya, the then BBMP Commissioner, wrote to the Vice Chancellor, UAS, stating: “I would like to submit that, in fact, no permission of any authority is needed as BBMP is contemplating development of a pre-existing road.” This was followed by bulldozers running down the wall of the varsity and the felling of over 30 trees from March 23.
The University’s opposition continued and on May 29, in the 333rd meeting of the Board of Regents, it strongly objected to BBMP’s decision of bulldozing its way into campus. UAS put up boards indicating that “trespassers will be prosecuted’’ at the GKVK campus and did not agree to spare any land for the road.
Seven VCs of UAS resolved on June 21: “The land is sacred in the name of the farmers of Karnataka from whom it was taken away with a pledge that it would be devoted in the service of farmers. As such, no bit of land could be used for any purpose other than the service of the farmers.” Meanwhile, on April 29, UAS also approached NBA [National Biodiversity Authority] with the proposal to declare the GKVK campus as a biodiversity heritage site. This was accepted by MH Swaminathan, secretary to Union Government [Forest] who in a file to secretary [Ecology and Forest] says, “You may please examine this proposal and get it declared a Heritage Site.’’ The member- secretary, Karnataka Biodiversity Board, was also sent the proposal.
The UAS alumni association also jumped into GKVK’s rescue and submitted a petition to the governor, which was forwarded to the principal secretary, Karnataka Agricultural Department on August 13 with a call for ‘appropriate action.’ Two weeks later, the principal secretary received another petition from the governor’s office, on behalf of residents of Vidyaranyapura, who were against the construction of the road.
This is where Subramnaya again steps in, this time as the principal secretary, agriculture department.
On August 18, in the 336th meeting of the Board of Regents, UAS, of which the principal secretary is also a part, Subramanya asked for a review of the 333rd board meeting’s decision to oppose the Yesvantpur- Yelhanka link road.
The principal secretary reportedly prevailed over the Board, which reversed its earlier decision, which had sparked off a movement of sorts to save GKVK.
With this new resolution, BBMP has again started building the road, felling over 100 fully grown trees.
It is in violation of the SC verdict in the Godavaram case, where no prior permission was taken to convert forest land for nonforest use, under the Forest Conservation Act.

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