BMRCL fears protracted legal battle over property acquisition, additional bill of Rs. 145 crore

Even before Namma Metro Phase II is to get formal approval from the Union government, the city’s most ambitious project, already well behind schedule, appears to have run into rough weather.

The project, expected to get the final approval by the Public Investment Board on June 25, is threatened by protracted legal battle over a change in alignment.

The change in alignment of the Jayadeva Station — at the intersection of the R.V. Road Terminal-Bommasandra line and Gottigere-Nagavara line — from within the premises of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardio Vascular Sciences and Research, has residents and property owners up in arms.

Protracted litigation

By his own admission, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) Managing Director N. Sivasailam told the high power committee (HPC) meeting on March 7, 2013: “There is strong likelihood of protracted litigation, which may stall or delay the project besides escalating the cost.”

Not only that, to avoid massive negative fallout, he said: “The best option could be to skip the station as the entire line may be stalled due to litigation.” His argument against the change in alignment near the Bannerghatta Road and inner ring road junction at the HPC meeting, a document copy which is with The Hindu, came following the fears expressed by Jayadeva director C.N. Manjunath. In a letter, Dr. Manjunath had said a metro station on the hospital premises would paralyse its functioning besides discomfiting patients. “The sound vibrations will be fatal to patients with pacemakers. Micro infections due to micro dust arising on account of the metro will be fatal to them.”

However, BMCRL’s director (Rolling Stocks and Electrical) rubbished the fears saying the metro was far less polluting than road traffic.

Mr. Sivasailam had also said: “Even if it is assumed that the minimum sound and the vibrations affect operations of the hospital, just [moving] them away by 20 metres cannot have much effect on these two parameters.”

Conspiracy seen

Meanwhile, seeing a conspiracy in the hurried change in alignment, K. Ramesh, who is set to lose his property in the new scheme of things, said: “The hospital director wrote to BMRCL on December 31, 2012, and the alignment change was decided by the HPC on March 7, 2013. This shows the government moved swiftly and without even considering the plight of the property owners who were not even informed about the changed alignment. Only after, we knocked on the doors of BMRCL, did the officials acknowledge [the turn of events].” Further, the original alignment would have cost the hospital just parking lot and a small portion of the building’s portico and not the entire hospital as is made out to be, he added.

In fact, the State government had approved the original alignment in 2012.

High acquisition cost

Mr. Sivasailam, at the meeting, estimated that the additional cost of acquiring land and demolition could exceed Rs. 145 crore but the residents’ claim that it is much more than that.

“The guidance value of properties is Rs. 8,500 per square foot, and the market value is much more. The 98 buildings now earmarked for demolition in the new alignment have 1.65 lakh square feet of land and 2.15 lakh square feet of building and the compensation value will be much more,” said K. Santhosh Kumar, property owner. Besides, the BMRCL also pays 30 per cent solatium on the property value, he pointed out.

Asked to comment, Mr. Sivasailam told The Hindu the decision to change the alignment was taken at the 30-member HPC meeting. “Public interest is more than the private properties.”

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