Environment Support Group

Hasiru Usiru: Campaign To Reclaim Bangalore’s Commons


Tree felling by the golf course

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has proposed to widen 91 prime roads in Bangalore, supposedly to reduce traffic congestion in the city. At a whopping cost of Rs.8-10 crores per kilometer this project is likely to affect over 400 kilometers of prime roads in the city.

The road-widening project will irrevocably alter Bangalore’s landscape, destroying lakhs of homes and livelihoods, heritage structures, and thousands of avenue trees. Likewise, it will compromise the safety of pedestrians, the differently abled, hawkers, children, senior citizens, cyclists and other road users. Apart from that, the road-widening designs promoted by the BBMP clearly defy all basic principles of urban planning and design, the National Urban Transport Policy, the National Urban Street Vendors Policy, the National Building Code as well as progressive circulars issued by the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India. The designs are also in violation of laws such as the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act and the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act.

Realizing that the road widening programme is an irrational and illegal exercise and is only oriented towards advancing private modes of travel, Hasiru Usiru — a network of concerned citizens, community organizations and NGOs — has over the past few years systematically critiqued the project. Through representations, public consultations and meetings with the officials, Hasiru Usiru has also tried to engage progressively with the government and its agencies in order to develop more intelligent designs that enable better travel and transport modes for Bangalore’s population while also protecting its greenery, which is an integral part of the city’s heritage and landscape.

However, constrained by the lackadaisical approach of the various authorities who have ignored public enthusiasm and involvement, and have also prompted continuation of rampant tree-felling and road-widening works, Environment Support Group and others filed a Public Interest Litigation in the High Court of Karnataka in May 2008.

See all events.

About Hasiru Usiru

Hasiru Usiru is a network of organisations and individuals concerned about conservation of public commons, open spaces and greenery in Bengaluru. Over the past several years, Hasiru Usiru has served as a platform to explore various approaches to resolve urban challenges through a series of efforts including meetings, workshops, campaigns and public interest litigations. A key concern has been to develop sensitivity of implementing agencies involved in urban infrastructural development to involve public in decision making and ensure that projects developed are in conformance with law and equitable benefit all sections of society.

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Empowered Committee


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May 2010: Successful Protest Opposing Tree Act Amendment

On the eve of World Biodiversity Day, over a hundred people came together in front of the Karnataka State Forest Department headquarters to protest a proposed regressive amendment to the Karnataka Tree Preservation Act. Read more.

Sep 2009: View the Road Widening FAQ.

Jul 2009: Download the 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.

Workshop on July 4th, 2009: “What’s Happening in Bangalore? Meeting the challenge of Protecting Lives, Livelihoods, Public spaces and Our Commons!” Read report (PDF). Download invitation.

May 2009: On May 19th, ESG and Hasiru Usiru filed a PIL opposing the current plan for constructing the metro through Lalbagh Gardens and Lakshman Rao Boulevard. (press release) Despite this, the Karnataka High Court granted permission for the above construction on May 21.

On May 7th, the Karnataka High Court directed the BMRCL to stop tree felling in Lalbagh and on R. V. Road until further orders, in response to a PIL filed by Mr. Mahavir Ranka and others. Read about the protest on May 9, and alternative metro alignments that were proposed to the BMRCL by members of ESG and Hasiru Usiru.

Apr 2009: Metro work and tree felling in Lalbagh and Lakshman Rao Parks: view press releaseappeal, and photos of protests. Read the report and view the poster (English & Kannada) for the protest on April 26th at Lalbagh, and a Hasiru Usiru press release on April 22nd rebutting claims about the metro.

Mar 2009: On 16 March 2009, the High Court of Karnataka passed an order saying that road widening should proceed according to the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act and the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act. Read ESG’s press release on the same.

Feb 2009: Read the report on the Heritage Walk organised on 08 February 2009 by INTACH, in collaboration with ESG and The Avenue Road Commercial Association.

Jan 2009: Read the report of the “Cycling Inclusive Planning Workshop” held on 31st January 2009, organized by the BMLTA, EMBARQ, Interface for Cycling Expertise, City Connect and RideACycle Foundation.

On January 6th, 2009 the Lok Adalat passed an order (zip file – 464 KB) taking away the Tree Officer’s power to grant permission for felling trees, ruling that tree felling in Bangalore could henceforth only occur with the Adalat’s permission. It also referred ESG’s PIL back to the High Court.

Nov 2008: View the minutes of the Empowered Committee from July through September, 2008. Also see a collection of the correspondence between ESG and the Empowered Committee appointed by the High Court to review the BBMP’s road widening schemes.

As a follow up to the Namma Raste walk on November 9th, 2008, a rally was held on November 29th 2008. (See pictures) Download the flyer for Saturday. Download a related powerpoint presentation for more information, entitled “Bangalore’s traffic mess solutions.” (warning: 5 MB file)

The Committee appointed by the High Court of Karnataka to review the BBMP’s road widening schemes was issued an order by the Lok Adalat on November 19th to hear all pending applications of petitioners. In accordance with this, the Committee held a hearing on November 24th 2008.

A walk was held on 9th November, 2008 from Lal Bagh to Town Hall to protest unnecessary road widening. Read the newsletter on the success of November 9th’s Walk to Reclaim Bengaluru, and view related press releases and articles. (See pictures) Download flyer: EnglishKannada. Poster 12 and 3.

Oct 2008: Sign the petition to the High Court appointed Committee.

Sep 2008: Hopes Dashed as High Court Appointed Committee to review Road Widening turns people-unfriendly. Read Press Release & View High Court Order.

July 2008: A workshop was held on July 19th, 2008 entitled “Namma Raste: Reclaiming Bangalore’s roads,” jointly organized by ESG, CIVIC Bangalore and the Alternative Law Forum. Read the report of the workshop, and download an open letter to take the intiative forward. (PDF file)

June 2008: The High Court of Karnataka has constituted a committee to review the road widening Schemes of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike. Read Press Release & View Order.

May 2008: Karnataka High Court admits PIL against Road Widening Projects in Bangalore – The PIL challenges BBMP’s ongoing project of widening 91 roads (a number likely to increase) in Bangalore, running into a length of about 400 kms across the length and breadth of the old city areas. Read the PIL

Dec 2007: A public consultation on “Road widening schemes of Bengaluru: Impacts and Alternatives” was jointly organised by Environment Support Group (ESG), Civic and Alternative Law Forum (ALF) under the banner of Hasire Usiru. Read the report.


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In the Media




Bamboo weavers on K.R. Road affected by the Metro

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Images of street vendors and street life

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Public Consultation on Road Widening, Dec 20th 07

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Tree felling done in the name of road widening

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Tree Felling Protests

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