Saturday, May 08, 2010

BDA hid facts on war memorial

BDA hid facts on war memorial

An RTI activist finds that the authority in-charge of executing the controversial project is still not clear on how to go about it


The controversial National Military Memorial proposed at Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park may push the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) into deep legal knots. In its reply to an RTI petition filed by T Ashok, a resident of the city, the BDA has contradicted earlier proposals and has kept mum on a few factors that might embarrass the government.


For example, to Ashok's question whether necessary permission has been taken to create a subway from the Nehru Planetarium to the proposed memorial, the BDA replies: “There is no provision of (a) subway from Nehru planetarium to Musical Fountain in this project.”
This contradicts the State Government's claim in the High Court of Karnataka that the proposed plan included a sub way. In fact, contradictory statements by the government as well as the BDA regarding the subway had also become a major point during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) in the HC. The original plan was to facilitate easy access of the students and youth visiting the planetarium to the war memorial.


According to the Karnataka Government Parks (Preservation) Act, 1975, no construction can be allowed in a park. So any construction — overground or underground — can happen only if the State Government issues a notification which will override the Act.
However, the BDA has replied in the negative to Ashok's query whether permission for the change of land use has been obtained or not. “No change of land use has been taken,” it says bluntly. According to set norms, the government has to pass an ordinance or the Assembly has to pass a resolution to this effect and then this has to be notified in the Gazette for change of land use to take place legally.


Another contentious issue about the project is the presence of serving military personnel. The National Military Memorial maintenance committee, according to the BDA's reply to Ashok and a Government notification, will include the AOC-in-C training command (IAF), GOC-in-C
Southern Command (Army) and two Navy representatives. The BDA has left the question whether they have been approached to be part of the committee unanswered. It is a possibility that these authorities may later refuse to join the panel. The fact is that the three wings of the armed forces have not been consulted.
The BDA provided these replies in a letter dated May 4.
Meanwhile, the High Court of Karnataka has reserved its orders on a PIL filed by the Krishna Apartments Owners' Welfare Association (KAOWA) against the project. The final orders are expected after the HC returns from the Summer vacation later this month.


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