Acting on a decision taken at the meeting of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council, the civic authority went ahead and demolished the compound wall of Mantri Square on Sampige Road on Wednesday morning.
Malleswaram residents, whose life has undergone a sea-change because of the footfalls and the traffic the mall attracts, saw the demolition as a farce. The BBMP action did in no way hinder access to the city's biggest mall.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Siddaiah informed the BBMP Council that the civic authority would go ahead with the widening of Sampige Road and this would entail bringing down the ramp in front of Mantri Square.
Following this, the BBMP officials, including Engineer-in-Chief B.T. Ramesh, began demolishing the compound wall of Mantri Square at around 7.30 a.m. on Wednesday, deploying eight earthmovers.
There was some drama when residents of Mantri Greens, the apartment complex abutting the mall, opposed the demolition of their compound wall. They tried to block the way and then turned their ire on those manning the earthmovers, rushing at the hapless operators with sticks and missiles.
However, residents of Malleswaram, who have seen the old-world ambience of their neighbourhood morph into an urban nightmare, rallied behind the BBMP officials.
Seeing they were outnumbered, Mantri Greens residents backed off, claiming that their security was now compromised what with the wall's demolition. The police, who were at the spot, have assured them of providing security till the wall is rebuilt.
Meanwhile, Mantri Developers Pvt. Ltd. reportedly submitted an affidavit to Commissioner seeking a months' time to shift/ relocate the infrastructural works and to redesign the ramp upon suitable approvals from the Karnataka State Fire Services and BBMP.
BBMP Engineer-in-Chief Ramesh told presspersons here the BBMP had issued conditional occupancy certificate to the developer on the condition that four metres of land both in front and behind the mall be ceded for road widening. Despite several reminders, the developer had failed to cooperate.
He also said as per an undertaking given to the High Court, the trees on Sampige Road would not be axed.
Kiran Kumar V.G., Vice President (Liaison), Mantri Developers Pvt. Ltd., claiming that BBMP had issued no prior notice, termed the demolition is “unjustified and shocking.” He said other than laying the link road, his firm had complied with all 20 preconditions.
“Though widening Sampige Road and Savitha Theatre Road has not been proposed in the Revised Master Plan 2012, we agreed to part with four metres in public interest. We sought time from the BBMP to demolish the ramp scientifically and make suitable modifications to the front elevation of the mall. We have incurred a loss of Rs. 2 crore with the demolition of the compound,” he said.
He attributed the delay in laying the link road to the ongoing pier erection by Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd.
On his part, Commissioner Siddaiah rubbished the statement that no prior notice was issued to the developer. The BBMP and the developer have been in correspondence on the issue for the past one year.
He maintained that the developer must be aware of the public outcry and realise that BBMP is under tremendous pressure. “The process has begun and we intend to see it (road widening) through.”
Later in the evening, in a press release, the BBMP said the developer would need a month to shift the utility lines and demolish the ramp.
Meanwhile, residents of Malleswaram termed the demolition an “eyewash”.
Rajashekhar from Save Bangalore Committee said BBMP was primarily to be blamed for permitting the mall to come up in the first place. “Widening the road is not enough. The ongoing construction of the 51-storey apartment complex and 37-storey commercial complex must stop. The traffic problem will only get worse,” he said.