Monday, March 26, 2007

Two townships, two sets of rules

Two townships, two sets of rules
The Times of India

Bangalore: One rule for Peter, another one for Paul. This is Karnataka for you.
Two townships, coming side by side in Bidadi, are being treated differentially. Reason: One is public sector, the other is private.
Consider this: The BMRDA is building a 9,684-acre township covering six villages and one grazing land at Bidadi. No studies including the mandatory environment impact assessment study (EIA) has been done for it. But land acquisition process has begun.
In contrast, the neighbouring township by Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC), a similar but private roadcum-townships project, has waited over 10 years. It has got all studies — EIA, technofeasibility, demand survey — done, even had a Supreme court order in its favour. But the land acquisition has not yet taken off !
“The industries department has told us that there is a demand for such townships. EIA and other studies will be done by the developer we identify for the townships,’’ metropolitan commissioner Sudhir Krishna said.
But, in the case of BMIC, all these studies were sought even before the land acquisition process began! “They threw the rule book at us and made us do everything right. We don’t regret it. But why have all the rules been bypassed for the BMRDA?’’ BMIC project company Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) managing director Ashok Kheny asked.
What makes the situation worse is: The EIA appears to have been essential for the Bidadi township. The region where it is supposed to come up is full of lush irrigated land and extensive coconut and mango groves. Given that BMRDA itself has said it will opt for least displacement of human habitations, least use of agriculture land and least disturbance of forest and water bodies, the location for the Bidadi township appears suspect. Krishna stated that the fertile valley region would be protected in the township, but locals are not convinced of this.
There is said to be an ISRO report on the region which stated that the irrigated and valley regions should be avoided for townships, based on which the BMIC shifted its location to the rocky neighbouring region. A group of farmers called the Ranganatha Raitha Hitarakshana Sangha has also appealed against the location of the BMRDA township in the Karnataka high court.


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