Friday, July 02, 2010

Suddenly, govt drops memorial project for war heroes

Suddenly, govt drops memorial project for war heroes
TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Bangalore: In a sudden U-turn, the Karnataka government has decided not to build a memorial to the 1971 Bangladesh war heroes at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park.
“We will look for new space far better than the present one,’’ declared chief minister B S Yeddyurappa in the legislative council on Thursday to a query by R K Siddarama (BJP). However, the CM did not elaborate on the reason.
The announcement comes as a complete surprise, considering a battle of sorts was on when work on the memorial started. The CM’s indecisiveness at this juncture — when much digging and building is complete — also raises questions about the cost, the futility of the exercise and disfigurement of a pristine park.
Residents of the Krishna Apartment Owners’ Association (KAOA) and walkers had taken the issue to the Karnataka High Court. Unhappy with the HC ruling allowing work to proceed, they had approached the Supreme Court.
The petitioners had pleaded that construction would directly harm public interest, the residents in particular, as the park is a lung space for Bangalore.
Though the apex court had declined to stay the government’s initiative to build a memorial, it asked for a reply and posted the next hearing to July 26.
Residents of colonies around the park are elated. “It’s a good decision. I hope action will follow the statement,’’ said KAOA secretary Sudhir Pai. The government had earmarked nearly 6 acres in the 17-acre park for the underground war memorial. The idea of the memorial dates back to 2008 when a committee was formed to find space in the city.
The memorial was to be maintained by a trust chaired by the CM, with highranking Army officers as its members.
AMENDMENT TO TREE ACT
The government is considering the proposal to amend the Karnataka Tree Preservation Act, 1976, to provide for felling of certain varieties of trees without permission from forest department. To a question from a BJP member, Yeddyurappa said he will soon take a decision after consulting environment experts.
Opposition leader C Motamma said forest officials are harassing farmers and planters as it is mandatory to take permission from the forest department to fell trees even on their own land. Memorial abandoned, work stops
What About Incomplete Job Done? Who Will Bear The Cost?
Bangalore: Minutes after CM B S Yeddyurappa announced on the floor of the House that the National Military Memorial would be shifted, work on the ground stopped at Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park on Raj Bhavan Road.
BDA engineer-member R Srinivasa said: “I was in the council when the CM made the announcement. We followed it up immediately. The next step will follow only after an alternate location for the site is finalized.’’
Asked about work already completed on the site, he replied that all civil works are almost done. “We will have to pay as per the tenders finalized for the earth work completed till date.’’
Meanwhile, governor Hansraj Bhardwaj on Thursday refused to comment on the decision taken by CM Yeddyurappa on the memorial. “The case is in court and I do not wish to comment on this incorrigible government.”
CITIZENS THRILLED
Meanwhile, residents of Krishna Apartment Owners’ Association and regular walkers are elated at the CM’s announcement. The association had even filed a petition before the Supreme Court and the next hearing was scheduled for July 26.
“It’s a good decision. I hope action will follow the statement. We are still for the National Military memorial. But the committee that’s trying to build this memorial should identify a bigger, better, non-controversial site in a place that’s accessible to all, taking the local residents along for their valuable suggestions and support. Most importantly, it should be transparent,’’ association secretary Dr Sudhir Pai told
The Times of India.
THE OTHER SIDE
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, ABIDe convener, MP and chairman of the National Military Memorial Committee, however, maintained: “The decision could have been taken much earlier by the CM. This would have spared tremendous cost, money and time spent by many people of our city, and most importantly, spared the many families of martyrs and veterans the humiliation and trauma of this unseemly controversy.”
In a press statement, he said: “I want to offer my deepest and most heartfelt apologies to all the families of martyrs and veterans for this unseemly and unfortunate controversy at the behest of some people in our city. I have, unfortunately, been subjected to many personal attacks during this whole episode by some socalled elite citizens of our city and have chosen thus far to accept this as a cost and consequence of doing the right thing by these brave sons of Karnataka and India. I want to reassure families of these martyrs that a large majority of citizens have the greatest regard and respect for them and their loved ones...”
A FIT OF PIQUE?
Did Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s recent outbursts against the Yeddyurappa government on the Lokayukta and tardy flood relief works annoy the CM? According to sources, the Rajya Sabha MP was rather vocal about his stand on several issues, the latest being the government’s stance towards Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde, as also the slow progress of Aasare — construction of houses for flood relief victims in North Karnataka.
“What else could have happened in 48 hours for the project which the CM himself endorsed all these days? As chairman of the National Military Memorial, Rajeev should have been told at least about the shifting of venue,’’ sources said, hoping the fallout wouldn’t impact the Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure Development for better Bangalore of which Rajeev is the convener.
THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME
This is not the first fight for this park. It was originally an LRDE area that was taken over by PWD during M Veerappa Moily’s tenure as CM. Subsequently, there was also a plan to build an international convention centre here by a Singapore consortium. But it was thwarted and in 1998, opened as a park when J H Patel was CM. Interestingly, even then it was M C Nanaiah who had raised objections against the proposed project.
COST FACTOR OVERALL PROJECT COST: Rs 15 cr
Work order for Rs 12.62 crore already entrusted to contractors
80% earth work is complete as per the work order issued

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