Crusader for open spaces

Neighbourhood protector: Laila Ollapally, a loyal Koramangala resident. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Neighbourhood protector: Laila Ollapally, a loyal Koramangala resident. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy  

Saving lung space in Koramangala was paramount for advocate Laila Ollapally, a resident of the area. After a prolonged 20-year legal battle in the High Court and Supreme Court, she and other residents managed to finally protect their locality.

Ms. Ollapally says that it all began in 1997 when the Bangalore Development Authority allotted civic amenity sites in Koramangala.

A park that children from the neighbourhood used was allotted to private parties.

“I, as a practising advocate, could not just sit and let that happen. Also, I was at a point in life when I wanted to take up issue-based litigation. I took up this issue and started working around what I could do to save the lung space,” she says.

According to the city's Comprehensive Development Plan, 10 per cent of every locality has to be set aside for parks and playgrounds, while as per the BDA Act, it is 15 per cent.

“I filed a petition citing these grounds. The court, after hearing the BDA's submissions, ordered that the area should be set aside for a park and playground. It also said that if any civic amenity site becomes available in Koramangala later, it should be set aside as an open space!”

Ms. Ollapally says she found later that more land, including a tank, around the same area was under litigation.

“By unearthing documents, we found out that there was an order saying that this land was a private tank. But my research clearly showed that it was a public tank. The case went up to the High Court and Supreme Court. The apex court remanded it back to High Court for reconsideration,” she says.

Finally, all that hard work paid off when she succeeded in getting a favourable order from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the tank belonged to the State Government and directed that it be protected as an open space. “Both places are close to where I live. I felt compelled to protect the open spaces,” she adds.

Chitra V. Ramani

Advocate Laila Ollapally fought fiercely to retain Koramangala's parks and playgrounds

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