Tuesday, June 15, 2010

‘Do we need motivation hall?’

‘Do we need motivation hall?’
Former minister says the hall being built as part of the controversial National Military Memorial at the Indira Gandhi Musical Park is a violation of the 1975 Karnataka Parks Preservation Act

It has been ten days since the High Court dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL) against the proposed construction of the National Military Memorial at the Indira Gandhi Musical Park. But the controversy refuses to die down. Many experts have raised questions about the judgment and some of its observations. Here is what B K Chandrashekar, former chairman of the Legislative Council and senior lawyer, had to say:
“I was highly amused and utterly surprised by the High Court judgment on the matter. There are a number of points that leave me unconvinced about the judgment. Let’s start with language. It waxes eloquently about the project, Rajeev Chandrashekar and especially the ‘motivation hall’. Most of the time the language is adopted from the respondent’s claims.
“The court fails to discuss the very necessity of this motivation hall. It makes no sense that the child who visits the hall now will be inspired ten years down the line and join the army. I would think that recruitment for the army should not have been a concern of the court here. I would have expected the court to speak in the language which encouraged people to join the peace corps and not an army!
“Besides, there are a number of minute practical details that need to be questioned by the court in this case. It does not even once look into the implications of having such an establishment in such a busy area. Why has the court not asked about the requirement of 6 acres to build a motivation hall (which is 1/3rd of the park area itself)? Why has the court not taken into consideration the need for infrastructure like parking lots (school children will come here in buses), amenities, and a canteen once this establishment opens and becomes a hub of activity? There is no mention of this.
“The judgment also says that the petition is of private interest because the residents live close by. This logic makes no sense. The civic responsibility of taking care of our neighbourhood cannot be construed as private interest just because we live close by. Is the High Court then suggesting that only those people who live away from the area should take the initiative to save public space?
“The judgment also says that the establishment will not be handed over to a private individual. Is Rajeev Chandrashekar, the vice-chairman of the trust, not a private individual? Though he is a Member of Parliament, there is no reference to this position. In fact, the term National Military Memorial itself is wrong when you are paying homage to martyrs of the state alone!
“I also fail to understand why the court had not focused on important documents submitted to it. There is the Governor’s letter to the Chief Minister, which cites the example of the Police Memorial in Delhi, which had to be shifted, and enumerates the National War Memorial Policy. Then there was the report submitted by the former Chief Conservator of Forests Basappanavar, who mentions the contamination of the sub soil in the park...”
“But the most important aspect of this case is the 1975 Karnataka Parks Preservation Act on which this PIL was filed. The Act very clearly limits any kind of construction in a designated park for public utilities like toilets and pump room for generators not exceeding more than 4 per cent of the area. The motivation hall, especially which the HC glosses over, is a violation of that law.”


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