Return land, residents tell MEG

Staff Reporter
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They stage protest seeking entry to Muneshwara Swamy temple

Residents of Ulsoor and surrounding areas taking part in a protest in Bangalore on Sunday.— Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy
Residents of Ulsoor and surrounding areas taking part in a protest in Bangalore on Sunday.— Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

For nearly 15 years now, residents of Ulsoor and surrounding areas have been denied entry to the Sri Guddada Muneshwara Swamy Temple, next to the MEG Centre here. The Madras Engineering Group (MEG) and Centre has fenced the temple property, the watch tower constructed by Kempe Gowda II and even the 15-ft public road adjoining the temple.

On Sunday, several devotees staged a protest in front of the temple demanding that MEG return the land, besides removing the fence on the public road that belongs to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

The temple has also been locked and the devotees have now established a temporary temple opposite the original one. The temple priest used to live in a small shed next to the temple, which has also been fenced. Susheelamma, the septuagenarian priest, now lives in a tent opposite the temple. “We (devotees) are prevented from offering prayers. Usually, on Sundays, families come here to sacrifice goat and chicken to the god. We are not allowed to put up pandals on such occasions even though the land is public property,” she said.

K.V. Girish, an advocate, said that the watch tower was built in the 16{+t}{+h}century and was a protected monument as per Section 4 of the Karnataka Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1961. MEG had violated the Act by preventing access to the protected monument as allowed under Section 18 of the Act.

He also said that the BBMP wrote to MEG on March 25, 2011, directing it to remove the fence and clear the road within three days of receipt of the letter. “However, no action has been taken so far. Ironically, the BBMP has to seek MEG's permission to pay tribute to Kempe Gowda at the watch tower,” he said.

Akshay Shanmugam, a devotee, said that in 1989, the then Commissioner of the Bangalore City Corporation S.M. Acharya wrote to MEG asking the authorities to remove the boards installed on the civic body's property. In the letter, he stated that the corporation has fixed the chain link fence, gates, maintained the pavement and laid the steps to the monument (watch tower).

He also said that he had sought information under Right to Information on the property and whether it had been taken on lease from the BBMP.

“I had sent the RTI application to the Defence Estates Office (DEO), Karnataka and Goa Circle, and MEG. While MEG forwarded the application to the Defence Estates Office stating that the information was available there, the DEO claims that the lease copy was not available with it,” he said. Both Mr. Girish and Mr. Shanmugam alleged that the BBMP had failed to protect its property.

MEG officials refused to comment and claimed that they were not authorised to respond. A Defence Ministry spokesperson said an official response can be given only on Monday.

  • ‘MEG has violated ancient monuments Act'

  • Defence Ministry to respond today




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