Thursday, July 30, 2009

Greens give new hue to Race Course row

Greens give new hue to Race Course row

Here is some ''green noise'' for a cause which, if taken cognizance by the Karnataka High Court, may give some breathing space to Bangaloreans.

A coalition of City environmentalists of all hues—academics, cine artists, dramatists and writers—have joined hands in an effort to apply pressure on the State Government to retain the Race Course’s greenery once its lease period ends.

Dramatist Girish Karnad, actor-environmentalist Suresh Heblikar and writers like U R Ananthamurthy, Maralu Sidappa, G K Govinda Rao and others like S G Vasudeva and Ammu Joseph have moved the High Court seeking directions to convert the 70-acre place into the City’s lung. In their petition, filed on Wednesday, the activists have apprehensions stating that the State Government was planning constructing the City’s tallest highrise on the Race Course’s current location. The petitioners have prayed for directions to the government that no new contract is entered into with builders or developers without the Court’s consent. The rationale for this stand is that the City needed more green cover.

Speaking on the public interest litigation that he and some of his co-activists filed, Heblikar said it was an attempt to protect the race course as lung space. “We are not fighting on behalf of horse-owners or employees. We are concerned that the Race Course needs to be a lung space considering the general pollution that Bangalore suffers from,” Heblikar said.

Heblikar reasoned that there were 34 lakh vehicles that ply the City’s roads and, therefore, the Race Course needed to be a carbon sync where thousands of trees will be planted to absorb the daily emissions. He said the Race Course, spread over and area of 70 acres, can recharge underground water “so vital” for a city whose water was going down steadily.

Pointing out that thousands of trees have been felled for road-widening, Heblikar said retaining the Race Course as a green patch will compensate for the loss to a certain extent.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Yeddyurappa told the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday that the existing Race Course premises would be developed into a beautiful park.

In a written reply to the discussion on demands for grants for various departments, he said Bangalore Development Authority will consult experts to prepare a plan for developing the proposed park. His government is firm about shifting the Race Course to reduce congestion on the road. The government has decided to sanction land in Chikkajala for opening a new race course on a contract basis.


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