Muzrai Department plans road in place of kalyani in Vasanthapura

The decision of the Muzrai Department to hand over land belonging to the 1,000-year-old Vasantha Vallabaraya temple for the construction of a road in Vasanthpura near Konanakunte has triggered a controversy with locals accusing the department of favouring a real estate developer.

The department has decided to hand over 8,000 sq.ft. land on which the temple’s kalyani (sacred pond) is located for the construction of a 40-feet wide road. The road will provide a 15-acre landlocked private property access to the Vasanthpura Main Road.

According to documents provided by N. Nagaraj, the former member of the temple’s administrative committee, the land is being diverted for the road at the behest of N. Balakrishna Naidu, the proprietor of Naidu Projects Land Developers.

Mr. Naidu wrote a letter on May 17 requesting the Muzrai Department to set aside land for a 40-feet road “in public interest”.

Alleging that the department is favouring the builder as part of a quid-pro-quo arrangement, C. Srinivas says: “People of these parts have a deep emotional connect with the temple and the kalyani.”

However, Mr. Naidu dismisses the allegations and says that he has offered to surrender 9,000 sq. ft. of land for the construction of the road. “The land I have surrendered is adjoining the kalyani. The land I have given can be used to extend the water body in another direction,” he avers.

Those opposed to the arrangement say that the land that Mr. Naidu has offered to surrender will cause him negligible loss compared with the huge profits he stands to make once his land has a proper access road. “The road is not only for me. Others in the vicinity too will benefit from it,” Mr. Naidu counters, adding, “The local people want this project to go through. It is only a few blackmailers who are harassing me for money by raking up this issue.”

Although the Muzrai Department’s executive officer in charge of the temple refused to comment on the issue, his colleagues who spoke to The Hindu said that the temple’s kalyani has become a sewer and nobody has been using it for several years. Some people in the locality also concurred with this version.

However, Mr. Nagaraj says that the Muzrai Department deliberately turned the kalyani into a sewer by colluding with the builder and releasing effluents into it. “Kalyani has been polluted for the past five years. Now that people have stopped using it, the authorities concerned are all set to build a road in its place,” he says.

Sources in the local police say that there are vested interests at both ends. “Now, some underworld elements as well as some pro-Hindu organisations have got involved in the issue. We are keeping a close watch to prevent anything untoward from happening,” says one senior police officer.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nagaraj and his supporters say that they will soon launch an agitation against the diversion of the temple land.

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