Bengaluru

Road widening will yield windfall for erstwhile royal family

The proposal to widen Ballari Road and Jayamahal Road was made in 2008, but land acquisition was stuck in courts.

The proposal to widen Ballari Road and Jayamahal Road was made in 2008, but land acquisition was stuck in courts.   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

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Expected to get over ₹2,442 crore in TDR certificates for handing over part of Palace Grounds to widen Ballari Road and Jayamahal Road

The erstwhile royal family may become the first beneficiaries of the new Transfer Development Rights (TDR) rules as the civic body seeks to revive long-pending, and contentious, projects to widen Jayamahal Road and Ballari Road. The development comes in the backdrop of the government dropping the steel flyover project that was to run along Ballari Road.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) issued notifications for acquisition of 64,656 sq.m. (nearly 16 acres) of Palace Grounds for widening a 2.5-km stretch of Jayamahal Road and a nearly-2-km stretch of Ballari Road.

C.K. Venkatesh, advocate for the Wadiyar family, said the offer of TDR is in tune with the Supreme Court verdict that reaffirmed ownership of the land. “I do not think the family will object to acquisition, as it is for road widening,” he said.

Nearly 10 acres is in the name of the former King Srikantadatta N. Wadiyar and his wife Pramoda Devi. The rest is in the names of his sisters Meenakshi Devi (who died in 2015), Kamakshi Devi, Indrakshi Devi, Vishalakshi Devi and Gayathri Devi (transferred to her husband when she died in 1974), and Chamundi hotels (2.72 acres).

The proposal to widen Ballari Road and Jayamahal Road was made in 2008. But land acquisition was stuck in the High Court and Supreme Court as the Wadiyars and the State government fought over the ownership of the sprawling Palace Grounds. In 2016, the verdict went in favour of the royal family and the government was directed to compensate the land-owners with TDR.

“This is the first acquisition after the new TDR rules were issued in March. We are acting on the directions of the court and are widening the roads to reduce traffic snarls in the area,” said Manjunath Prasad, Commissioner, BBMP.

Unlike the old TDR rules that offered 1.5 times the guidance value of the land to be acquired, the new rules will see the erstwhile royal family get twice the value. While the civic body is yet to calculate the amount of TDR to be given, the guidance value near Ballari Road is ₹2.4 lakh per sq.m. and ₹1.54 lakh near Jayamahal Road. This translates to over ₹2,442 crore in TDR certificates, which can be sold to builders or used to increase floor-area ratio of the land in the family’s possession.

“It may take up to four months to process this transaction... Once we get the land, we can start work. The government had allotted ₹12 crore in 2016 for the initial works,” said an official in the Road Widening Division of the BBMP.

Concern for trees on Jayamahal Road

The BBMP has requested the Institute of Wood Science and Technology (IWST) to review the trees to be cut for widening of Jayamahal Road following objections by Bengalureans. Numerous citizen groups protested the proposed cutting of 112 trees on the 2.5-km stretch.

BBMP officials said IWST has been asked to study which trees can be transplanted, and the cost for the same. While the report is awaited, officials said over 40 trees can be saved.

The environmental cost of road widening between Mehkri Circle and Palace Guttahalli is yet to be calculated.

A study by researchers from Azim Premji University and Project Vruksha had counted 2,244 trees of 71 species on both stretches.

Ballari Road widening

Length: 2 km

From Mehkri Circle to BDA junction

Land to be acquired: 6.5 acres

Estimated worth of TDR: ₹1,260 crore

Jayamahal Road widening

Length: 2.5 km

From Mehkri Circle to Cantonment Bridge

Land to be acquired: 9.48 acres

Estimated worth of TDR: ₹1,182 crore

Timeline

1996: Government stakes claim to 485-acre Palace Grounds

2009: BBMP attempts to acquire 15 acres for road widening

2010: Compound walls moved back

2014: SC orders government to hand over TDR to Wadiyars

2016: HC directs government to grant necessary clearance to the BBMP to widen road

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 2:32:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/road-widening-will-yield-windfall-for-erstwhile-royal-family/article17853765.ece

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