BMRCL urged to drop plan to acquire church land

Environmentalist Leo F. Saldanha addressing presspersons in Bengaluru on Thursday.

Environmentalist Leo F. Saldanha addressing presspersons in Bengaluru on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

The All Saints Church Welfare Association on Thursday reiterated its demand that Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) drop its recent notification to acquire church land. It urged the corporation to explore alternatives to build a station box and carry out construction work for the Vellara Junction underground station on the Red Line from Dairy Circle to Nagawara.

At a press meet, the association accused the BMRCL of infringing on the fundamental right of people to congregate at the church, on the grounds that acquiring more land would obstruct peaceful assembly for prayer.

The BMRCL had earlier acquired 3,618 sq.m of church land occupied by tenants such as Tom’s Hotel and Fatima Bakery. At the time, it paid ₹60 crore as compensation to the Church of South India. However, the BMRCL needed another patch of land on a temporary basis — around 3,797 sq.m — to carry out construction work. It later decided to go for the permanent acquisition of an identified plot of church land. The Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) has already issued a notification and the process of acquisition is on.

Leo F. Saldanha, coordinator, Environment Support Group, said, “We had approached H.D. Kumaraswamy when he was Chief Minister. He had instructed the Urban Development Department to look into the issues raised by us and submit a report, but that never happened.”

Mr. Saldanha also said the defence authority has now claimed ownership of the land and that it was given for the purpose of building a church in 1867. Acquisition of this property by the BMRCL or the KIADB is against the land use plan, he said.

The ASC Welfare Association, along with other activist groups such as Heritage Beku, have also lent their support to the protest in order to retain the church’s heritage.

They claim that about 100 trees are at stake. These trees are home to rare birds, which result in rich flora and fauna. “The protesters entered the 75th day of their protest this week,” Mr. Saldanha said.

Priya Chetti Rajagopal, convener of Heritage Beku, said, “Today we all are facing a big issue — the erosion of the city we know. We have no idea of what Bengaluru is going to be in the next 10 years, considering the way they are eating up the city one by one...”

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 9:04:20 PM |

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