Yediyurappa proposes film city at Roerich estate; greens oppose move

The lake at Roerich and Devika Rani Roerich Estate at Tataguni on Kanakapura Road in Bengaluru.

The lake at Roerich and Devika Rani Roerich Estate at Tataguni on Kanakapura Road in Bengaluru.  

100 acres of the 460-acre estate is maintained by Forest Department

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Sunday proposed that a film city be built at the Roerich and Devika Rani Roerich Estate at Tataguni, a lung space spread over hundreds of acres off Kanakapura Road. He described it as an “innovative idea” in his speech during the Founder’s Day celebration organised by the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI).

The Chief Minister’s plan, however, is still in its early state of inception, with senior Forest Department officials saying that they have no knowledge of it. “We are unaware of the film city proposal.

The Roerich estate is spread over 460 acres of land, of which, a hundred acres is maintained by the Forest Department,” said an official.

The proposal to build a film city in the estate, which is part of elephant corridor between Bannerghatta and Savandurga, has not gone down well with environmentalists as it will disturb its thriving biodiversity.

Elephants, moving from Bannerghatta to Savandurga, have been spotted on the estate land as they camp there for one or two days lured by the vegetation and water sources. Is believed to be home to numerous leopards, peacocks, barking deer, and even an otter, which was spotted two years ago.

“People have also sighted wild animals in the area. Any intrusion will harm them. The estate is one of the rich natural habitats left on the outskirts of the city,” said the Forest official, and added that without the approval of the Supreme Court the land cannot be used for any other purpose. The apex court has laid out strict instructions on the usage of land.

Environmentalist have already expressed concern over increasing urban pressure, with the NICE Road flanking one end of the estate, and its proximity to the upcoming metro line. Environmentalist A.N. Yellappa Reddy said the State government should drop the proposal in the interest of environment protection.

“The development happening off Kanankapura Road over the years is very alarming. There is a serious threat to the green spaces like the Roerich estate. If the State governments wants to build a film city, let them consider some other other place. Building a film city city in the estate will cause great harm to the biodiversity. There is a beautiful lake and it has survived because of the green cover,” said Mr. Reddy.

Earlier proposals

In May 2017, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) had planned to build a depot for the extension of the Green Line by partly acquiring the forest land of Uttarahalli Manavanthe Kaval reserved forest located next to the Roerich and Devika Rani Roerich Estate. The Department of Forests vehemently opposed the proposal stating that building a depot and constructing a metro viaduct would block the elephant corridor. The opposition from the department and other factors forced the BMRCL to alter the plan and shift the depot location near NICE Road.

The Department of Forests had also persuaded the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to build an overpass for elephant movement while widening National Highway 209, of which Kanakapura Road is a part of. It maintained that building an overpass with ‘natural habitat’ features will help the elephants to move without getting disturbed.

In his speech at the FKCCI programme, the Chief Minister also listed some of the more important transport and infrastructure projects, including the extension of Namma Metro to KIA, building a subrban railway network, and 12 signal-free corridors.

Film city plan in Mysuru to be dropped?

The previous governments had proposed to build a film city in Mysuru and establish a film university in Ramanagaram. It appears that the BJP government may be altering the plans. When contacted, a source in the government said the Roerich and Devika Rani Roerich Estate is an “ideal” location for the film city owing to its location, and that it would benefit from the advantage of the extension of the metro link. This development suggests that the State government may drop the film city project in Mysuru.

In 2015, the State government had sanctioned ₹25 crore for a an art museum in memory of Russian artist Svetoslav Roerich and his actor-wife Devika Rani. There was a proposal to build an art museum, exhibition halls, an auditorium, and a mini-theatre to screen documentaries.

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Printable version | Mar 25, 2020 5:30:14 PM |

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