Citizens apprise green panel of steel flyover situation

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Steel flyover column erected in Shivananda Circle. Bellary Road will see similar columns when steel flyover comes up. Pic: Shree D N

A delegation of representatives from various civic and environmental groups in the city met the Member Secretary of State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) at the MS Building earlier today and cautioned the SEIAA that the elevated corridor project violates several provisions of the law and reposed trust that the state environmental agency will act in public and environmental interest and stand up to political pressure.

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The letter submitted by the collective brings the following to the notice of SEIAA

  1. The elevated corridor project violates the KTCP (Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act) and hence cannot be reviewed by SEIAA currently
  2. The elevated corridor project is in violation of orders given by the Honourble High Court of Karnataka
  3. The fact that if the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act was followed, then the situation as in now, where several piecemeal projects are all being done at the same time, would not have arisen and we perhaps would have a comprehensive mobility plan for Bangalore
  4. That when projects are sent for clearance without following the planning laws, and are sent piecemeal for approval, how does the SEIAA look at the overall impact on the environment of the city?

The letter is presented below. It is also being sent to KRDCL

Post card campaign launched:

The group announced the launch of a massive city wide post card campaign by citizens seeking public consultation. The CM and DCM have been repeatedly quoted in media  “doors are open” “we will seek public opinion before making decisions” but yet haven’t organized even a single public consultation so far. We demand statutory, open and inclusive public forums across the city before critical decisions are made.

We call upon concerned citizens of Bengaluru to join this post card campaign writing to the CM and the DCM #PublicConsultationsBeku

A citizen consortium meeting the SEIAA officials to submit the letter. Pic: CfB

The letter submitted to SEIAA

Date : 05th January 2019

To,

(1) The Member-Secretary,
State-Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority – Karnataka,
Room No. 706, 7th Floor,
4th Gate, M.S. Building,
Bangalore – 560001,
Represented by its Member Secretary.

(2) Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited
“Samparka Soudha” , Survey No.8
B.E.P Premises (Opp. Orion Mall) Dr. Rajkumar Road
Rajajinagar 1st Block, Bangalore– 560 010

Sub.: Terms Of Reference granted by the State-Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority – Karnataka, for the proposed construction of elevated corridor in Bengaluru Metropolitan Region by Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited bearing No. SEIAA 135 CON 2018 dated 23.10.2018

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

Subject : Serious public concerns around the proposed Elevated Corridor Project

We, the undersigned are all concerned citizens of Bangalore, who wish to share with you our concerns regarding the elevated corridor project , for which the ToR for an EIA has been issued by SEIAA Karnataka.

There are legal lacunae in the way the ToR has been issued, there does not seem to be any application of mind in the way this process has been undertaken and there does not seem to be any concern about the impact this will have on the city and people of Bangalore.

We firstly wish to bring to your attention the fact that it is an Invalid TOR since the process of EIA etc has been started without even the proposed project being in the Master plan, violating the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act and the orders of the Karnataka HC in Environment Support Group and ors. vs. Bangalore Metro and ors. WP 13241/2009.

The question of complying with the Environment Protection Act, obtaining an Environmental Clearance arises only after there is demonstrated, transparent, accountable and comprehensive compliance with the provisions of the KTCPA, 1961 in regard to such proposals as road widening by the project implementing agencies. This requirement has also been categorically affirmed by the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in W.P. No. 13241/2009 (Environment Support Group and ors v. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. and ors) in the following manner:

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 jcase 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″.

“Mr. Basavaraj Kareddy, learned Prl. Government Advocate, who represented the State and Mr. K. Krishna, learned counsel, who on our asking accepts notice on behalf of the Bangalore Development Authority, agree, that the provisions referred to hereinabove, shall be complied with, without any deviation whatsoever”.

“(n)eedless to mention, 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”.

In the instance case of the elevated corridors, there is absolutely no compliance with the provisions of KTCPA, 1961 and thus no action can be initiated under the EIA notification till such time there is comprehensive compliance by project implementing agencies with all the provisions of the KTCPA.

The absolute necessity of complying with the provisions of KTCPA, 1961 in regard to road development or widening, has also been reaffirmed in the Additional Affidavit filed by Additional Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary, Public Works Department, Government of Karnataka before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Contempt Petition (Civil) No. 96/2007 (Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises Ltd. v. P.B. Mahishi & ors.). In this Affidavit, dated 12th April, 2016, one of the most senior officers of the Government of Karnataka has submitted as follows to the Supreme Court:

“Without prejudice to anything averred herein, the Respondent states that, Section 26 of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961 in particular, and Chapter V of the said Act in general, contemplates a scheme made by the Planning Authority for the purpose of implementing the proposals in the Master Plan published by the State Government.The ODP becomes an implementable Master Plan only in the wake of such a scheme made by the State Government, and in the process of implementation of this scheme, the Master Plan may be subjected to change in accordance with ground-level requirements. In the instant case, such a scheme has not come into existence yet.” (para. 34, emphasis supplied)

In the instant case of the elevated corridors, there is no Scheme yet formulated to implement the said proposal of elevated corridors  as anticipated in the Revised Master Plan – 2015.

Today the Karnataka government is planning to spend more than a lakh crores on the following projects – Elevated corridors, Steel Flyover, Satellite Town Ring Road, Peripheral Ring Road, Signal free corridors and road-widening. If only the government followed the provisions of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act before embarking on the projects, we would have a holistic mobility plan for the city and not such piecemeal projects, the construction of which will cause environmental, health and congestions issues in several hundred roads at the same time. In fact when the projects are sent to your agency for approval piecemeal, without following the provisions of the KTCP act,  as with the case of the elevated corridors , how does your agency even assess the actual, cumulative impact on the city due to the various projects being put in at the same time? This is all the more reason that the EIA process should be stopped till the project complies with the orders of the Hon’ble Karnataka High court as referenced above and follows the procedure stated in the KTCP act.

We therefore call on the SEIAA from going ahead with the EIA and EC process and write back to the government asking them to comply with the orders of the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in  Environment Support Group and ors. vs. Bangalore Metro and ors. WP 13241/2009 before submitting any projects for clearence.

Please also do call for a meeting with the undersigned to discuss our concerns

Sincerely,

Thanking You,
Citizens for Bengaluru
Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike
CIVIC
Environment Support Group
Bangalore Environment Trust


About Srinivas Alavilli 21 Articles
Srinivas Alavilli is a citizen activist based in Bengaluru, working on a variety of issues. He is the co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru.

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