Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stop the occupation of Indira Gandhi park

Stop the occupation of Indira Gandhi park

An appeal against the war memorial cOMING UP at Indira Gandhi musical fountain

Dear citizens,
Today's news reports of defence personnel calling for going ahead with the National Military Memorial (NMM) gives an impression that the 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 opposed to a war memorial in the city. We believe that it is important that Karnataka, which has been home to thousands of military martyrs since Independence, remembers to salute and honour the immense sacrifice of the martyrs.
Like all ordinary and naive residents of this city, we were excited when the NMM proposal was announced on February 10, 2009. From 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 reported that "NMM is a landscape concept without any buildings or structure above the ground. The memorial will comprise of a Veeragallu, a monument and three display structures from the army, navy and air forceā€¦"
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 an RTI. The reply was an eye-opener: The park was to be divided into two with one 6.5-acre portion marked for the memorial. There was to be construction of over 11,000 sq ft which required the felling of 18 trees. The ownership of the 6.5-acre land was transferred from PWD to the home department. We realised that for the construction of over 11,000 sq ft it was unlikely that only 18 trees would be cut. 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 up. We understand from press reports that only four trees are to be felled for the construction of a 13,000 sq ft "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 in the vicinity of Raj Bhavan. Instead of replying to the governor, BDA served a caveat the next day on a citizen who had raised the 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 were apprehensive of the haste with which the promoters of the war memorial were moving forward. We appeal to the government to ensure that no construction takes place in any park in Karnataka. 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. We also earnestly appeal to the government to ensure that saplings are planted in various parks in the state in memory of each of the 1,347 matyrs from Karnataka.
Concerned citizens
Mohandas Pai, Capt GR Gopinath,VS Ugrappa, NA Haris, Abhay Jain,Dr Sudhir Pai and others


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