Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Digging before the court decides

Digging before the court decides
Work is going on apace for the proposed war memorial even as the High Court order in the matter is yet a good week away

Digging work for the proposed military memorial at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park began three days ago and, judging by the hectic pace of the work, there is every likelihood of concrete structures coming up next. All this, when the High Court has reserved its order on the project and is scheduled to take up the matter when it resumes work after the court vacation ends on May 24.
The area to be dug has already been demarcated on the project’s allotted area of 6.50 acres, though it leaves out the trees. “We have been given a deadline of six days to complete the digging work. We have marked the area to be dug. The plan is to dig from the inside first and then move to the extremities,” said Subramanya, a worker at the site.
The roots of nearby trees have been exposed, and some of them possibly damaged, due to the digging. “We cannot avoid this as the markings are close to the trees. Some roots are bound to be damaged,” Subramanya said.
The PIL against the proposed war memorial says that even trees not marked for axing will be affected by any structure. The petitioners, Krishna Apartment Owners’ Welfare Association, had filed an affidavit prepared by Basappanavar, retired chief conservator of forests. The affidavit said any underground structure would require the cutting of roots of trees in the vicinity. Hence, even trees not meant to be cut would die if any structure came up.
No official was present at the site while the work was going on. “Our supervisors come early in the morning. They give us instructions on what is to be done and come sometimes in the evening to check on the work,” Subramanya said.
Concrete structures could also come up soon. “The square pits marked at certain points are meant for the pillars. We are yet to dig up those portions. We will be digging a 15-foot-deep pit and that is the only work for the next six days,” he said.
Old-timers of the area are unhappy at the developments. Rajalakshmi, a former resident of Vasanthnagar, said, “I grew up in this area and moved to Mumbai five years ago. We come here in summer and this place used to be our hangout. After I came to Bangalore this year in April, I have been following the news and feel sad. All my memories of walking here will soon be demolished. This is war in the name of a war memorial,” she said.


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