Written by Leo Saldanha 2 November 1998 Bangalore
Note on the ongoing Cubbon Park denotification and construction of LH Annexe controversy
Leo F. Saldanha
02 November 1998
The Karnataka Government Parks (Preservation) Act of 1975 clearly states that:
Sec 3 (1): This act shall apply to all lands and buildings within the limits of such parks belonging to the State Government as the State Government may from time to time, by notification in the official Gazette, specify
Sec 4 further amplifies this provision as follows:
Sec 4 (1) It shall be the duty of the State Government to preserve and maintain as Horticultural garden the parks to which this Act is applicable and take such action as may be necessary to improve the utility of such parks and such gardens
Sec 4 (2) No land or building within the parks to which this is applicable shall be alienated by way of sale, lease, gift, exchange, mortgage or otherwise or no license for the use of the such or building shall be granted and any alienation or license granted in contravention of this section shall be null and void.
Considering the above and the fact that despite all the strength of these provisions there were repeated attempts to seek land within the Cubbon Park, the Government of Karnataka issued an order No. AAH 264 AHM (..??..) Bangalore dated 14th November 1979. This order states:
“Frequent requests are being received from various organisations and Associations for allocation of space in the Cubbon Park and Lalbagh areas for purposes of construction of buildings. The Bal Bhavan authorities have also been requesting for allocation of additional space for putting up temporary structure etc. According to the provision of Karnataka Government Park (Preservation) Act, 1975, no additional land can be granted for construction purposes, in these parks. The entire question is, however examined with regard to the preservation of unique atmosphere in these areas and the Government have decided not to allow any more construction by any of the organisation or individuals in both Cubbon Park and Lalbagh.
Accordingly, it is directed that neither any land should be granted to nor any further constructions be permitted whether temporary or permanent by any organisation or individuals in the Cubbon Park and Lalbagh areas except the constructions taken up by the Horticulture Department in furtherance of the objectives of the department.
It is clear from the above that the Government anticipated all future pressures, and in protecting the lung space for all times decided to issue the above order.
Given the fact that by that time already several buildings had already come up along the margins of the Cubbon park, and some within the Park, the Government of the time was constrained to put at rest all doubts with regard to the future of this Park, and decided to issue a notification clearly delineating all the limits of the Park.
The same was achieved by Notification No. AAH 381 AHM 83 dated 27th September 1983 which renamed Cubbon Park as Sri Chamarajendra Park, and added an approximate area of 80 acres to the then existing area of Cubbon Park. The added area included the presently disputed LH area, Raj Bhavan area, Rock Garden, etc.
It is clear from the above that emerging with the 1975 Parks Act, Government after Government have only strengthened the legal protection accorded to Cubbon Park. The same was re-confirmed in the 1984 Comprehensive Development Plan prepared by the Bangalore Development Authority as per the BDA Act 1976, and the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961.
The Notification No.AHD 138 HGM 97 (1) issued on 30th July 1998 by the present Government specifying new boundaries for Cubbon Park, in supersession of the 1983 notification, comes as a jarring contradiction to all that has been achieved over 23 years in protecting Cubbon Park and its surrounding landscapes.
The 1998 notification attempts to achieve two sets of objectives:
- The “legalisation” of the Annexe construction that has been coming up since 1996.
- The freeing of space within the 45.94 acres removed from the Cubbon Park area for any sort of development. This regardless of the breaking down of pockets of land for Park purposes, as has been done for the LRDE area (retained as Park), the Raj Bhavan Complex (brought under the care of the Governor), etc
It may be worth reminding ourselves at this point that the 1995 CDP of the BDA shows the entire LH complex as being reserved for “Public and Semi-public use” in contradiction to the “Park” classification accorded to the area by the 1983 notification. Thereby, the BDA seems to have violated the Parks Act in effecting such a change
In addition, BDA may have probably violated Sec 14A of the Town and Country Planning Act, which mandates a process of public review by issuing advertisements in newspapers, and clearly demands that all such conversions shall only be for the larger public use.
Yet the most damning evidence of law breaking against the Government has emerged from the fact that the Annexe construction may have begun without a building licence, and may be in blatant violation of the following sections of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act 1976:
Section 299: Application to construct or reconstruct building:
- If any person (or the Government in this case) intends to construct or reconstruct a building, he shall send to the Commissioner an application in writing for permission to execute the work together with a site plan of the land, ground plan, elevations and sections of the building, a specification of the work and such other documents as may be prescribed.
- Every document furnished under sub-section (10 shall contain such particulars and be prepared in such manner as may be required under rules or bye-laws.
Section 300: Prohibition against commencement of work without permission-
The Construction or reconstruction of a building shall not be begun unless and until the Commissioner has granted permission for the execution of the work.
By all evidence available, there is no building license for the construction of the Annexe, nor has the Commissioner of Bangalore Mahanagara Palike issued orders to demolish the structure.
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