Ridiculing the State government for classifying the stud farm at Kunigal, run by industrialist Vijay Mallya, as “a site of heritage value”, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Railways and the State to conduct a survey to explore the possibility of constructing a tunnel under the stud farm for the Bangalore-Hassan broad-gauge railway line.
Justice Ram Mohan Reddy passed the interim order on petitions filed by farmers questioning the decision of the authorities to change the original plan of laying the railway line through the stud farm only to “favour” Mr. Mallya while classifying the farm as “a heritage site of 400 years.” The stud farm is being operated on government land leased out to Mr. Mallya.
“It appears that the State government has evolved a fantastic adjective of heritage site in respect of a stud farm. Stud farms can never become site of heritage value. They are meant only for breeding horses, which can be done anywhere in the world. Therefore, breeding in captivity need not necessarily be in the present stud farm. It is ridiculous to say that a railway line should not pass through the stud farm,” the court observed.
Pointing out the possibility of laying a railway line through a tunnel under the stud farm, the court said the cost to build the tunnel should not be a factor to be worried about when the State government thinks that the “stud farm has heritage value.” The court directed the State government and the Ministry of Railways to submit a report within three weeks on providing an underground passage for train while making it clear that the Railways should bear the cost of the survey.
The High Court on Wednesday directed the State government to stop execution of work related to the Upper Bhadra Lift Irrigation Project in forest areas till the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests grants clearance.
A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice K. Sreedhar Rao and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer passed the interim order while hearing public interest litigation (PIL) petitions filed by H.S. Neelakantappa and others challenging the project.
The petitioners, in their petitions filed in 2011, claimed that the project was not viable technically, economically, scientifically and socially apart from causing serious adverse impact on the environment. They also complained that the Rs. 6,000-crore project benefits only Chitradurga, Tumkur and Kolar and deprives water to Kadur and Tarikere. As it was pointed out to the court that no clearance from the MoEF was obtained for carrying out the project in about 230 hectares of forest area, the Bench ordered for stopping the work only in forest area.