Subject: Our objections to the redevelopment plan of the BDA Complex, Indiranagar, Bengaluru
It has come to our notice through media reports that the BDA Complex in Indiranagar will soon undergo demolition and redevelopment. Tenders to this effect have been floated by BDA and that Maverick Holdings & Embassy Group have been identified as the private partners at a cost of Rs. 657crores. The redeveloped structure would apparently have two huge blocks, housing over 1000 car parks, 6,50,000 sqft. of retail and mall space and 3,50,000 sqft. of commercial office space with a total built up area of 14.95 lakh sq. feet versus the current 1.34 lakh sq. feet. This will be over 11 times the size of the current structure!
We would like to place on record our strongest objection against this plan of redevelopment of the BDA Complex. Our reasons for the same are given below:
- The very idea of this concrete monstrosity coming up is a myopic view of the planning process. BDA seems to be looking at a seemingly short-term benefit of revenue making, instead of the real long-term needs of the residents and public.
- The area where this proposed structure is to come up is Public land, belonging to the public. BDA has not had any public consultation whatsoever on this project, given that it would be of a massive scale and which would have far-reaching effects on the entire Indiranagar area.
- The proposed structure will see manifold increase in vehicular pollution, sound pollution, traffic chaos & congestion. The roads around the Complex are narrow, residential in nature and are already packed with traffic, with very little pedestrian infrastructure. This proposed redevelopment will only ensure that there is a huge overload on public infrastructure and a complete breakdown of traffic control. The residential nature of the area around the Complex will completely be lost if this redevelopment plan is executed. Residents who are already reeling under the stress and inconvenience of illegal commercialization of their residential bye-lanes, will undergo huge torture if this structure comes up.
- There is no dearth of malls or commercial spaces in and around Indiranagar. There is a private mall coming up hardly 800 metres from the location of the Complex on 80ft Road. Not very far away are the – RMZ and Gopalan on Old Madras Road. Indiranagar itself has become one big mall with rampant commercialization of the area. Not to mention the rampant mushrooming of illegal commercial establishments in our residential bye-lanes, violating zoning regulations & court orders. The civic authorities have all along turned a blind eye to these irregularities and illegal establishments instead of ensuring their closure. In such a situation, we do not see the need or logic for yet another commercial complex and mall of this size in our midst.
- The Complex is hardly 35 years old, needing some renovation and not demolition. The sheer lack of maintenance by the BDA has brought about the current condition of the building. With a spend of less than 1/100th of the cost allocated for this project, BDA can ensure that the current Complex is made good and maintained well. The Complex was housing several public services, which was convenient for the public. However, all of them have been vacated to make way for this unnecessary demolition. The inactivity and lack of human presence inside the building is ensuring that it dilapidates faster. This, we see as a very cunning and scheming ploy to ensure that public opinion is swayed towards the demolition of the current building.
- The raising of such a huge structure will completely skew the water, electricity and other physical and/or natural resources sharing among the residents and the users of the building. There is lack of looking at the big picture of planning and development by the BDA.
- The key reason for the redevelopment, we are informed, is to bring in revenue to the BDA. However, as a precedent, the Jayanagar BDA Complex redevelopment by BDA has not seen any revenue yet and the public are the ones at loss as their tax money (over 56 Crores) has gone down the drain.
- On the revenue front, we fail to see the financial sensibility of giving up prime real estate to private players, even if they bring in all the investment of the redevelopment project. Private players will not invest without vested interest and we see this redevelopment project as a land grabbing exercise, not definitely for public good. Even if the land would be with the BDA, this project will not allow all public to use the land equitably.
- The Binnamangala lake is a stone’s throw away from the proposed redevelopment site. There are two Rajakaluves literally abutting the Complex. The Hon’ble National Green Tribunal has directed that no construction should be undertaken in the limits of the buffer zone as specified:
- 75 meters from the periphery of lakes;
- 50 meters from the edge of the Primary Rajakaluve;
- 35 meters from the edge of the Secondary Rajakaluve; and
- 25 meters from the edge of the Tertiary Rajakaluve.
It has been mandated that these buffer zones be maintained as green belt. However, in this case we have already lost a lot of the buffer zone to roads and the current Complex. However, we believe that any new construction in the current Complex area would cause a huge environmental impact and could tantamount to contempt of the NGT orders.
- It also came to our notice that the trees in and around the current Complex, about 171 of them, are going to face the axe for this redevelopment. In today’s day and age with so much of awareness on Climate Change, Pollution, Environmental degradation, it is shocking to hear that trees are going to be cut down for developmental projects. This project will rob the public of precious oxygen and clean air to breathe, which no concrete structure will be able to give back.
- The area around the current Complex is in dire need for improvement. The roads are in pathetic state, there are no pavements, the sewerage overflows, garbage black spots are several in number and electricity is unreliable. We residents also want better public transport and cycling infrastructure. With so many matters crying for attention and improvement, we fail to see why there is thrust on a project which is unwanted, unnecessary and unwarranted.
BDA had committed to 10% open spaces in all its layouts. However, as per Existing Land Use maps, only 2.62% of area is allotted for Parks & Green spaces in Indiranagar and its surrounding areas.
In case, BDA is indeed going ahead with the demolition of the current BDA Complex in Indiranagar, we demand a tree park/ urban jungle in its place, like the Cariappa Memorial Park on MGRoad. We would like this space to be a lung space, a carbon sink and an oxygen producing area for the public and the future generations.
We are completely against any structures coming up in the current BDA Complex area.