A road project which has been in the eye of the storm over the past five years is back in discussion after Mahadevapura MLA Aravind Limbavali backed the project which falls in the buffer zone of Pattandur Agrahara Lake in Bengaluru.
A group of people, irked by the stand taken by the MLA, shot an open letter to him airing their strong resentment.
“We, the citizens, have been opposing the illegal road proposal over the Pattandur Agrahara Lake-54 and its buffer zone, since 2017, and you are well aware of it. Last Sunday (June 5), a third mass demonstration was staged seeking cancellation of the road project. The previous protests were held in 2017 and 2018. We have filed several petitions signed by thousands of people seeking the cancellation of the project which is non-statutory and a result of errors made by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA),” wrote Sandeep Anirudhan, convener of ‘Namma Whitefield’, a citizen’s collective.
The Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA) which was also against the project served a cease work notice on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) last month. However, the road infrastructure division of civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) claims that the Revised Master Plan (RMP) of 2015 does not indicate any existence of the lake. However, C Mruthunjayaswamy, CEO of KTCDA, clarified that the RMP is only an indicative land use document, and it is not an authority to determine the nature of the water body. He said a water body would remain as it is even if it was omitted in the RMP.
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In his letter, Sandeep alleged that not only has Limbavali been supporting the ‘illegal project’ but also asked the citizens to not oppose the project.
“We raised the issue once again at a meeting you convened with lake activists and you had taken a public stand for setting up the illegal road. It is a fact that the KTCDA has issued a stop memo to the BBMP, categorically stating that it is in violation of law,” said the letter, that also underscored that the Lake Buffer Zone is an integral part of the lake, and a road inside the zone will pollute the water body and destroy its integrity.
“The buffer zone is integral to the lake, which is why there are 10-15 laws for its protection. The buffer zone is a ‘No Development Zone’. If you really care about the lake, you need to protect the buffer zone,” the letter said.
The residents have openly opposed the road since it was announced.
Hitting out at the MLA’s claim that he did a good thing by getting the road alignment changed from the lake to the buffer zone, Sandeep said it only helped to convert one violation into another violation. “Instead you should have got the road project cancelled. How is converting one violation into another violation an improvement? How can one wrong replace another? It is a project that is already cancelled in the Draft RMP 2031, so it is not an essential road. You wrongly claim that the road will solve traffic congestion. The analysis by urban planners proves that this road has no utility and will actually lead to congestion of inner roads. What pushes you to be anti-people?” Sandeep mentioned in the letter.
He also alleged that public and civic authorities were alarmed by the interference from Limbavali’s office.
The BBMP’s road infrastructure division filed a police complaint against Sandeep at Whitefield police station on May 5.
“While there is a clear marking of the road alignment in the Revised Master Plan (RMP) 2015, Sandeep Anirudhan is obstructing the government’s work through false propaganda stating that the road is being formed in the lake buffer area. The RMP-2015 does not indicate any existence of the lake. He is instigating the public to oppose the government work, by pointing fingers at the BBMP, especially the road infrastructure division. The road infrastructure wing has not been involved in any corrupt practices and it has always adhered to the Directives of the Comprehensive Development plan (RMP-2015),” the complaint reads.
Sandeep alleged that the BBMP officials have confided to him that they filed the false police complaint under heavy pressure from an elected representative. “It shows the collusion between the builder mafia and politicians to carry out an illegal project that benefits them. This entire false police case episode to harass citizens needs a judicial inquiry, and the offenders need to be punished,” he said.