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Nervous BBMP keeps Indira Canteen sites secret

Madhuri Rao, Bengaluru, DH News Service, Aug 3 2017, 3:12 IST
Work is under way for opening an Indira Canteen at a playground in Jayanagar 2nd Block. DH photo

Work is under way for opening an Indira Canteen at a playground in Jayanagar 2nd Block. DH photo

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has blocked information about where Indira canteens are coming up.

However, DH has found at least 20 locations — 14 for canteens and six for kitchens — likely to enrage citizens.

The BBMP is now building 59 canteens and kitchens across the city.

“We have decided to complete 125 canteens by August 15 and the rest by October 2,” said BBMP special commissioner Manoj Rajan.

The BBMP has not released a list of sites. They have only provided a list of wards where canteens are planned.

“We have not compiled the 125 locations yet. Once that is done, we will share it,” said a Palike engineer associated with the project.

Earlier this week, when a controversy erupted over the demolition of the compound wall of the 300-year-old Rameshwara temple in Chamarajpet, Bengaluru Development Minister K J George said no parks, playgrounds and religious places would be disturbed for the canteens.
Other places

However, open public spaces are being sacrificed for the State government’s flagship project.

A list provided by a source reveals that the playground behind Udupi Upahar in BTM Layout, the BBMP park at Bhuvaneshwari Nagar, the Mini Bal Bhavan premises in Jeevan Bima Nagar, the BBMP Shishu Vihara in Halasuru, Bannappa Park in Sampangiramanagar, the playground at Kanakanapalya in Jayanagar, and the Rameshwara temple premises are among the more contentious sites the BBMP has identified for the project.

The selection of sites has irked residents’ welfare associations fighting to protect disappearing lung spaces in the city.

They said they might approach the courts if the government refused to pay heed to their concerns.

D S Rajshekar, president of Citizens’ Action Forum, slammed the BBMP for using the city's lung spaces for Indira canteens.

“We are not against the project. Our objection is against the manner in which it is being executed. There is a lack of transparency," he said.

The group says the government did not consult citizens to decide on the sites.

“Power-drunk people in the government are violating every rule. Even the BJP is not playing the role of a proactive opposition,” Rajshekar said.

He said his group had already apprised BBMP commissioner Manjunath Prasad about its objections.

“If the government does not stop, we will have no other option but to knock on the doors of the courts,” said Rajshekar.

N S Mukunda of Citizens’ Action Forum flayed the BBMP for building canteens inside parks and playgrounds even after minister George said no construction would be permitted on lung spaces.

Opposition take

BJP leader Padmanabha Reddy, leader of the Opposition in the BBMP Council, said the canteens violate the Karnataka Parks, Playground and Open Spaces (Protection) Act.

“I was the first to write to the commissioner against the construction of canteens in parks, playgrounds, and on lake buffer zones and stormwater drains. The irony is that George and mayor G Padmavathi have not yet consulted corporators to identify sites,” Reddy said.
BJP leader N R Ramesh wondered why the government was out to destroy lung spaces when enough space was available.

“There is no dearth of land in the city. Many BBMP properties have been grabbed by powerful people. This project could have been an opportunity to get them back," he said.

In newly added BBMP areas, the district authorities have recovered 4,410 acres, and this land could have been used for the canteens, he said.

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