As the deadline set by them to the government and the police to implement the order of a high-level committee to restore the land of the University of Agricultural Sciences-Bangalore that had been taken away for a road project by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike ended on Monday, angry farmers have now decided to take up the matter directly with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
“A delegation will meet Mr. Siddaramaiah and Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda on May 25 and seek their intervention in restoring the land to the university,” Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association president and Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader Kurubur Shanthkumar told The Hindu.
He pointed out that the BBMP’s link road project cutting through UAS-B’s land was ordered by the high-level committee constituted as per the High Court’s direction.
“We will apprise the new leaders about officials’ lack of seriousness in implementing the High Court’s directions and the [role] of vested interests, including the real estate lobby. We will demand a commitment from these two leaders that they will abide by the court instructions and restore the university land in the interest of farmers as well as farm research,” he said.
Expressing confidence that Mr. Siddaramaiah would stand by the farmers, he said the latter would brief him on their plan to restore the land themselves if the government continues to dither.
The BBMP had taken 24 acres of the university land in September 2009 a link road to connect Yelahanka with Bellary Road and a 3.9 km road was already built at a cost of Rs. 15.19 crore.
Seven former vice-chancellors, the university alumni association and some environmentalists filed a public interest litigation in the High Court challenging the construction of this road through land declared as a heritage site under the Biological Diversity Act. They contended that a public road slicing through the campus would affect not only its biodiversity but also sensitive experimental projects.
The High Court directed the government to constitute a high-level committee to resolve the issue. The committee, headed by Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath, asked the authorities concerned on March 30, 2013 to shelve the project and restore the land to the university.
But local politicians and realtors had twice resisted the moves by the university to close the road and take back the land. Irritated by this, the farmers had entered the scene on May 7 and warned that they would come in thousands from across the State to the UAS-B campus to restore the land if the government fails to do so by May 20.
Mr. Krishna Byre Gowda’s role with respect to the issue will be crucial as incidentally he is also the local MLA.