BENGALURU: With open, green spaces shrinking in the city, Bengalureans are fighting for every inch of it. A few, like the residents of Sahakara Nagar, are even refusing plush stadiums in place of their playground. Residents of Sahakara Nagar are resisting its construction, saying that the playground is the only pocket of lung space that is left in the area.
In a letter addressed to the BBMP commissioner, a petition has been filed and signed by 150 residents to oppose the construction work in Sahakara Nagar. This letter has also been sent to Lokayukta and MLA Krishna Byregowda.
Despite their vocal opposition, the construction work started last week and residents followed this up with a series of protests. The work has been halted since this Sunday and the commissioner has scheduled a meeting with the residents, which is yet to take place.
Whose land is this?
The land in question is under dispute. A bypass national highway road, as NH7 link road, was to be constructed in the area way back in 80’s. Once the construction of the NH7 road was put on hold, the other residents except for those in the CQAL Layout and the Defense Layout sold their land under the bypass notified land.
A resident of Sahakara Nagar who chooses to remain anonymous said, “From a legal point of view, that land now belongs to CQAL layout. However, it continues to be shown as the national highway bypass road.”But BBMP Chief Engineer of Yelahanka, Parameshwaraiah says that this belongs to the city corporation. “This was given by BDA, it’s BDA layout and it has been approved by the BDA and our local engineers are supporting it,” he says. Citizens allege that the decision to construct the stadium was arrived at without consulting or taking into account the opinion of all the residents of the area. A second resident who chooses to remain anonymous said, “There is no transparency in the implementation of this project. There is no clarity on how the indoor stadium will be operated once it is built and how much the residents will be charged. Also, we do not know the source of the crores of rupees allocated to build the club.”
Fight for green space
The residents allege that the children’s playground is the only safe and green space available in the entire neighbourhood for the children. The construction of an indoor stadium would provide limited options for the children, they say. Moreover, they say, it will only be made available to the residents who will be able to afford those amenities.
The residents have urged the BBMP to stop the work and keep the area open and free of any construction. A third resident who chooses to remain anonymous says, “There are already multiple clubs that can be used by the affluent people, the indoor stadium or club should not be built at the cost of depriving children and people of their basic rights to use public areas free of cost.“
However, the BBMP Chief Engineer of Yelahanka, Parameshwaraiah says that the indoor stadium is meant for the children, he says, “It is for public facility, we are doing this with great difficulty with the general interest of the people. It is for public usage, it is in the public interest. There should not be any other way of thinking when such civic infrastructures are being provided. People should be happy.”