BENGALURU: A dispute broke out on Thursday between the Railways and residents of Kondappa Layout in Kaggadasapura.
Railway staff barricaded a portion of a newly tarred road near the level crossing there, blocking the way to a school.
They had installed a signboard late on Wednesday to indicate their ownership.
Apartments, houses and two schools line the 2.4 km Kondappa Layout Road, with a width of just 20 feet. In an ambush operation, the BBMP tarred a portion of the road on Wednesday.
Railway staff and citizens suspect it was a ploy to woo voters before the BBMP elections, slated for August 22. Many citizens took to the streets on Thursday to protest the Railways action, and a platoon of the Railway Protection Force soon reached the spot.
Aditya Sagar, director, Gitanjali Vidyalaya, said residents had given small portions of their property to facilitate laying of the road. The BBMP had tarred half the road, running to 1.2 km, some years ago. “Three months ago, they completed 60 per cent of the stretch that was untarred,” he said. “They completed the work on Wednesday.”
Homemaker D N Hemalatha said, “None of us had approached the BBMP of late. They did it on their own yesterday.”
Meanwhile, Ranganath, BBMP executive engineer of Kondappa Layout (Ward 81), said no tarring had been done on the road on Wednesday, despite contrary testimonies by residents.
“We tried three months ago, but the Railways objected to it. We tried again on Wednesday and again they stopped us,” he claimed.
Shashi Kumar, who drops his children to school regularly, is incredulous. “I saw the jelly stones being laid on Tuesday and the tarring being done on Wednesday,” he told Express. His family saw the tarring, too.
A group of residents claiming to represent the layout approached the Divisional Railway Manager’s office on Thursday and requested him to permit them to use the road on humanitarian grounds.
The railway authorities are not willing to budge. “We will not part with even an inch. Providing access roads to schools and houses is the duty of the government,” Divisional Railway Manager (Works) Lakshman Singh told Express.
He said the BBMP had not taken consent from the Railways before repairing and tarring the road. “If someone takes your private property, will you let them?” he said, threatening legal action if the BBMP persisted.
“The BBMP must first provide an alternative piece of land if they want to keep this, but that is a long process,” Singh said.
The Railways must get a site equivalent in value to what is taken away, and the Railway Board in Delhi must approve the swap, he explained.