Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SC okays the military memorial

SC okays the military memorial

Many of those who earlier vehemently opposed the project have since resigned to the construction activity within the park

Bosky Khanna



The legal battle to protect an important and centrally-located park in the city from 'development' came to an end on Monday, as the Supreme Court dismissed the plea against the memorial filed by petitioner Dr Sudhir Pai, secretary of Krishna Apartments Association.
The apex court upheld the decision of the Karnataka high court, which on June 4, had said that the construction of the National Military Memorial within the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park would be in the interest of the general public, and a matter of pride for the city. The high court had also observed that the park would only lose about four eucalyptus trees.
The petitioner had sought the intervention of the apex court against the June 4 ruling of the high court. The Supreme Court bench, comprising justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly dismissed the case on Monday. On July 26, the two judges had adjourned hearing of the case by four weeks as the respondents had said that they did not receive the court notice that sought details of the site map.
Responding to the ruling of the Supreme Court, Dr Pai said, "If the court thinks that this is not a violation of the law, then what more can we do? We can do nothing but look on as the construction continues. We hope this won't set a precedent. After this, many other parks in the city could have construction approved for various issues, including emotional ones."
Representing just the opposite viewpoint while reacting to the hearing, Major General MC Nanjappa, sub-committee member for the Rashtriya Sainik Smaraka, said that the ruling brought much joy. This is a national project, and this is one expression of gratitude to the martyrs, he said. "The cause of the construction of the Smaraka was not just an ex-servicemen's battle. It is also a victory for the state government. As ex-servicemen, we have a sentimental attachment to the project. We now hope that all, including the ones who went to court against the project, will now join hands in offering suggestions and seeing to the completion of the project," Major General Nanjappa said.
With regard to the deadline set earlier for the completion of the project, Major General Nanjappa said, "We hope that the major symbolic portion of the proposed project would be completed by Vijay Diwas, December 16. We hope that the Veeragalu and flag post will be ready by then. Minor works like the motivation hall and landscaping could take more time."
Subhashini Vasanth, founder-trustee of Vasantharatna Foundation for Art, also the wife of deceased Col Vasanth Venugopal, who died in 2007 fighting terrorists in Kashmir, said, "I am very happy for this judgment. It was beyond the power of any one person to do this, and there were certain delays, but I am hopeful that the construction of at least the basic structure would be done by Vijay Diwas. Else, it is likely that the project would be completed by Republic Day."
Environmentalists, however, who had earlier opposed construction activity within the park, are now looking forward to the greening of the entire area. Dr AN Yellappa Reddy, a noted environmentalist, said, "Though in principle I was opposed to the construction, now I am resigned to it. I hope the whole area will be made a green space."
What is heartening is that even those who earlier opposed the idea are now pitching in with suggestions. Yellappa said, "I was invited to visit the place a fortnight ago to offer suggestions on greening the area. I suggested that the six acres earmarked for the construction should be developed into a patriotic, spiritual garden."
Chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, on July 1, faced with opposition to the project, had declared that construction of the memorial would be dropped; a fortnight later, in a volte-face, he had announced that construction would go ahead. The total cost of the project is estimated at Rs15 crore.

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