White Paper silent on violation of heritage norms

Special Correspondent

MYSORE: The debate over the Makkaji Chowk Commercial Complex is focused only on the financial dealings and alleged irregularities, while larger issues of the need to decongest the city or the violation of heritage norms have been ignored.

Though the Mysore City Corporation tried to come out clean on the issue by releasing a White Paper, it has failed to touch upon the above issues and the long-term ramifications of sanctioning the project.

The complex project is envisaged to come up on 4.2 acres of land adjoining a slew of heritage structures, including K.R. Circle, Town Hall, palace, Chamaraja Circle and Clock Tower. It will be leased to a private builder and developer for 40 years and the corporation will accrue a cumulative income of over Rs. 240 crores over the next four decades following which the property will be handed over to it.

The corporation has tried to address the financial aspect of the project, but there are other questions that need to be addressed. For, the grid around K.R. Circle comprising D. Devaraj Urs Road, Sayyaji Rao Road, JLB Road, Irwin Road and Ashoka Road that form the major commercial zone is choked and the traffic density is very high.

A new commercial complex with 155 shops, a multiplex, an entertainment zone and a food court, among others, with a parking facility at the basement for 650 vehicles will add to the problem around K.R. Circle.

Urban planners and non-governmental organisations involved in the preparation of a Master Plan for Mysore have stressed the need for decongesting the city. This view has been conceded by the Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA). But the new project approved by the corporation goes against the principle of decongesting the city centre and will only add to the woes of the people. It is significant to note that the traffic density in Mysore has increased over the years and the Regional Transport Authority here has pointed out that the proliferation of private vehicles is responsible for this. The area around Mysore Palace, K.R. Circle and Chamaraja Circle is chaotic as it is also patronised by tourists. The increasing number of vehicles and the rise in the pollution level should have strengthened the case to leave the acquired land as an open space for the much-needed lung space in the city. According to officials, the number of vehicles in the city has crossed the three-lakh mark.

The area in the vicinity of the palace, which is in the heart of the city, is suffering from high levels of pollution. "The City of Palaces will soon degenerate into a City of Pollution", say officials. Non-governmental organisations such as the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) in the past have pointed out that decongestion can be achieved by locating markets and commercial hubs in different localities. This will obviate the need for people from various residential areas to converge at K.R. Circle as is the case now. The Association of Concerned and Informed Citizens of Mysore (ACICM) has threatened to go to court on this issue.