A stormy public meeting on master plan

A section of the participatants at the BDA’s public meeting on the Revised Master Plan 2031, in Bengaluru on Wednesday.— Photo: Sudhakara Jain  

The public meeting on the Revised Master Plan 2031 on Wednesday turned chaotic after police intervened to stop citizens, who are against Bangalore Development Authority conducting the exercise, from speaking.

Immediately after the police belonging to the vigilance wing of the BDA allegedly snatched the mike from Sridhar Pabbisetty, CEO of Namma Bengaluru Foundation, who was speaking amid cacophony, members of leading citizens groups walked out of the session, terming it ‘Goondaism by BDA’.

Later, N.S. Mukunda of Citizen Action Forum told The Hindu that the entire public meeting was a sham because the BDA should not conduct such an exercise after the formation of Bangalore Metropolitan Planning Committee (BMPC).

Earlier, the nearly three-hour-long meeting began on a stormy note with citizens’ groups accusing the BDA of usurping the functions mandated to the BMPC. They pointed out that planning for Bengaluru was mandate of the BMPC under Article 243ZE of the Nagarpalika Act, 1992.

Mr. Mukunda urged the BDA Commissioner to produce minutes of the meeting or an order from the BMPC to the effect of mandate to the BDA to carry out the exercise. He argued that in the situation where the BMPC has not even met once since its formation, the BDA having a mandate from the BMPC was not possible. Leo Saldanha of Environment Support Group, in a letter to BDA Commissioner T. Sham Bhatt, alleged that the authority appears to have arrogated to itself powers that were unconstitutional.

However, Mr. Bhatt defended the BDA carrying out the exercise by saying that the government had issued a notification naming the BDA as the secretariat for the BMPC and hence it was legally mandated to carry out the exercise. He said the BDA would only provide data and inputs for the BMPC which would be doing the draft of the plan.

At one point, a visibly upset Mr. Bhatt asked those questioning the BDA’s authority to approach the court and seek legal remedy. This again led to civic activists protesting against the BDA.

In fact, officials could not present the work done so far during the three-hour session due to intermittent protests. The ground work for master plan, completed jointly by Royal Haskoning DV and the BDA, was expected to form the basis of the public consultation. However, the BDA dropped the presentation due to protests.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 9:09:36 PM |

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