Environment Support Group and ors. had challenged the construction of the southern reach of Bangalore Metro as being in gross violation of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act and other statutes in a Public Interest Litigation (WP 13241/2009, accessible online at: /campaigns/metro/legal.html). This followed widespread protests against the illegal development of the Southern Reach of the Namma Metro. The protests that ran for weeks highlighted the callous disregard for public opinion by Metro authorities who were destroying the sanctity of public commons – especially portions of Lalbagh and the boulevards along K. R. Road and Nanda Road. Communities also joined hands to peacefully raise their concerns against the ruthless manner in which the Metro destructively tore through the city’s fabric with an ill-thought Metro line.
Another major issue in focus was that in a highly questionable decision, the Government of Karnataka had authorised the sale of a portion of Lalbagh as an industrial site to the Metro from the State Horticulture Dept. Thus setting a shocking precedent in making this world famous and historical living heritage of the city a tradable commodity. If Lalbagh could be sold, then no public space and commons were safe!
ESG filed a PIL to stop this unnecessary ruination of an old city, and promoted a variety of viable alternative proposals, which unfortunately the authorities doggedly refused to acknowledge. Without any other option a Public Interest Litigation was filed challenging violation of various planning laws and norms, and also against the traditing of Lalbagh – a public commons. As no stay was granted, Bangalore Metro destroyed a substantial portion of the parks and boulevards. Yet ESG pursued its efforts in the Court.
Disposing the Petition finally on 16th November 2010, a Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court constituted by Chief Justice Mr. J. S. Khehar and Justice Mr. A. S. Bopanna observed that the “factual controvery brought out through the … writ petitions” have been “rendered infructuous”, given the substantial development of the Phase I of the Southern Reach of the Metro. However, the Court took full cognisance of the submission made by the Petitioners that “if a direction is issued to the State Government, as also, the Bangalore Development Authority to ensure that in future, in case they desire to change the land use, as has been depicted in the master plan, the competent authority shall follow the procedural mandate depicted in Section 14-A of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961 And likewise in case of making a town planning scheme, the State Government, as also the Bangalore Development Authority shall comply with the procedure contained in Sections 29, 30, 31, 32 and 34 of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961”.
The Court also observed that “……the provisions referred to hereinabove, shall be complied with, without any deviation whatsoever”. Reiterating its intent to punish violations, the Court in a clear message to all urban planning and infrastructure development authorities warned that “….in case of violation of direction issued by this Court, based on statement made to this Court, the concerned officer/official shall be held responsible, for his having disobeyed the order passed by this Court, as also, the prescribed mandate of law”.
No more can any planning authority or implementing agency claim that it is exempt from the provisions of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act. This progressive law mandating public participation in decision making was enacted in 1961, but has remained largely unimplemented. People now can take control of their cities as a matter of their Fundamental Right.
- Bangalore Metro
- Padayatra by Citizens in Protest of Metro Rail Construction Plans in South Bangalore – Sunday April 26, 10:30 am Lalbagh West Gate (download PDF of poster: English & Kannada)
- Support an Appeal to Stop, Consult and Redesign Bangalore Metro – 23 April 2009
- W.P. No. 13241/2009 – PIL submitted by ESG and others regarding the construction of the metro through Lalbagh – 19 May 2009
- PIL filed by Mr. Mahavir Ranka and others, challenging the ordinance issued by the Govt. of Karnataka allocating 1135 m2 of land in Lalbagh for a Metro station – May 2009
- Detailed Project Report for the Bangalore Metro (Phase I) – Client: Govt of Karnataka, prepared by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, assisted by RITES Ltd., published May 2003.
- Alternate alignment for the Bangalore metro proposed in May 2009 by members of ESG and Hasiru Usiru. (PDF – 1 MB) This alignment was represented to the BMRCL.
- Hyderabad Metro
- Online Petition: Bring Metro Rail Projects under EIA Notification – Appeal to Shri Jairam Ramesh, Hon’ble Minister of State for Environment and Forests Government of India. 22 October 2009.
- Writ Petition No. 18483 of 2008 – PIL on Hyderabad Metro Rail
- Maytas, Hyderabad Metro and the Politics of Real Estate – C Ramachandraiah, Economic & Political Weekly, 17 Jan 2009
- December, 2010: Note Metro Case ESG PIL
- ESG PIL Metro Judgement
- December 17, 2010: Public Consultation Must In Planning And Building Metro Or Any Infrastructure Project, ESG Press Release
- August 5, 2009: Stop Work and Review Bangalore Metro Design and Safety Aspects – 5 August 2009.
- May 21, 2009: Constitutional Anarchy supports Metro Implementation
- May 19, 2009: An Update on the PIL against the alignment of Bangalore Metro through Lalbagh and Lakshman Rao boulevard
- May 9, 2009: Hundreds gather to protest Metro through Lakshman Rao boulevard and Lalbagh
- May 7, 2009: Karnataka High Court stays tree felling in Lalbagh and Lakshman Rao boulevard for Bangalore Metro
- May 6, 2009: Police Offer Protection to Bangalore Metro’s encroachment of Lalbagh
- May 5, 2009: No tree felling in Lalbagh till Metro proves its activities are legal
- April 28, 2009: Bangalore Metro being built by Bonded Children
- April 24, 2009: Stop, Consult, Redesign “Nimma Metro”
- April 19, 2009: If Metro Cannot go Zig-Zag, then stop implementing the Zig-Zag alignment through Lalbagh and Lakshman Rao Parks
Pictures of the protests (April 17-26, 2009) against the construction of the metro through Lalbagh. More pictures of the protests can be found on flickr.