Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don’t let construction take place in any park in state: Gopinath, Pai

Don’t let construction take place in any park in state
The Neighbourhood Citizens Committee issues an appeal to the government against putting up the war memorial inside the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park

Aday after a few ex-servicemen came out in the open favouring a war memorial inside the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park, the citizens of the neighbourhood appealed to the government to spike the project and ensure that no construction activity takes place in any of the parks of the state. Here is a copy of the appeal by the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park Neighbourhood Citizens Committee:
Dear Citizens of Bengaluru,
Today’s news reports of defence personnel calling for going ahead with the National Military Memorial (NMM) gives an impression that the concerned citizens who have taken up the issue are opposing the NMM itself. We would like to assure our brothers in the Services as well as other enlightened citizens of Bangalore that we are not at all opposed to a war memorial in the city. We believe that Karnataka having been home to thousands of military martyrs since independence, it is important for us to
remember, salute and honour their
immense sacrifice to the nation.
Like all ordinary and naive residents of this city, we were excited
when the NMM proposal was first
announced on Feb 10, 2009. From
all newspaper accounts, it was clear
that a memorial was to be erected and the 16 acre Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park would be landscaped and beautified. In fact, most newspapers in the city reported that NMM is a landscape concept without any buildings or structure above the ground. The memorial will comprise Veera gallu, a monument and three display structures from the Army Navy and Air Force. The thought that it was detrimental to the flora and fauna of the park had not even crossed our minds until early February 2010 when we noticed the markings for construction that would lead to cutting of trees. This is when we decided to seek clarifications which were not forthcoming from anyone. We had no choice then but to obtain more detailed information through the RTI. The reply that we received was an eye-opener:
The 16 acre park was to be divided into two with one portion of 6.5 acres marked for the war memorial;
There was to be construction of over 11,000 sq ft on the site which required the felling of 18 trees; The ownership of the 6.5 acre land was transferred from the PWD department to the Home Department. As concerned citizens, our immediate task was to prevent the devastation of a beautiful park. We, as a group, realised that for a construction of over 11,000 sqft, it was unlikely that only 18 trees would be affected. We appealed to Hon’ble Chief Minister Yeddyurappa. Simultaneously, we sought the intervention of other concerned citizens.
Subsequent developments, though, led to the promoters making assorted claims on the number of trees that were planned to be cut to the kind of construction that was to come about.
We understand from the press reports that only four trees are to be felled for the construction of a 13,000 sq feet motivation hall along with a memorial. We decided to appeal to the Governor who after ascertaining our contention decided to write to the Chief Minister. One major objection that was raised was the implications on security if any construction came about around the Raj Bhavan vicinity. Instead of replying to the Governor, the BDA served a caveat the following day on one of the citizens who had raised objections. A few days later and just prior to the BBMP elections when the code of conduct was still in force, steps were initiated by the promoters to begin the construction. It was only then that we began to doubt the haste with which the promoters of the war memorial were moving forward. Even if genuine, we realised that such actions could only leave room for other vested interests to plan similar projects with ulterior motives. This action can only open up the possibility of similar projects in Lalbagh, Cubbon Park and now the Bangalore Turf Club area.
In this particular case of the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park, the 6.5 acre plot, although priceless, is estimated to be over Rs 500 crore and the discerning citizens should be conscious of the future implications of such action. Our sources amongst conscientious government servants clearly indicated that the promoters had plans to set up their office alongside the motivation hall. While we would not like to doubt the motive of such inferences, it is no rocket science for even naive citizens of this city to infer that there exists room for similar projects to corner some of the most prestigious and prime real estate properties in the city under various pretexts.
We as a group appeal to the government of Karnataka to ensure that no construction takes place in any park in Karnataka. Let alone trees, not even a twig or a blade of grass should be allowed to be cut from this beautiful park named after another martyr, Indira Gandhi. We appeal to all those who have been misled to prevail upon the government to give up this ominous proposal of dividing and occupying the Indira Gandhi Park.
All those interested in honouring the martyrs from this state should actively involve senior officials of the Defence Ministry, the Governor, Chief Minister and other leading citizens of this state in setting up the NMM at a location that is secure and protected from any possible desecration and disrespect and one that does not hold any temptations for individuals with vested interests.
We also earnestly appeal to the government of Karnataka to ensure that the martyrs are honoured through planting of a sapling in various parks in the state, in memory of each of the 1,347 martyrs from Karnataka.
Concerned Citizens
Mohandas Pai, Capt Gopinath V S Ugrappa, MLA N A Haris, MLA Abhay Jain Dr Sudhir Pai and others Bengaluru
April 12, 2010
The BDA will answer the High Court on Tuesday about the number of trees that will be felled at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park. The Krishna Apartment Owners’ Welfare Association had filed a public interest litigation in the HC after there were contradictions in the reports on the number of trees that would be cut, anywhere between 4 and 33.


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