CSI against BMRCL acquiring All Saints Church property

CSI against BMRCL acquiring All Saints Church property

The BMRCL wants to temporarily acquire 3,797.271 square metres of the All Saints Church land on Hosur Road. DH PHOTO

The row over the acquisition of land next to the All Saints Church for metro work has intensified with the Church of South India (CSI) accusing the BMRCL of arm-twisting.

BMRCL officials complained of non-cooperation from the CSI.

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) had proposed to temporarily acquire 3,797.271 sq m land on the All Saints Church premises. The land is required for the construction of an underground station on Namma Metro’s Phase 2 line between Gottigere and Nagavara. 

However, the CSI Karnataka Central Diocese, which owns the property, refused to part with the land citing the proposed work involves felling trees, some of which are older than a 100 years, and the demolition of a school for children with special needs.

BMRCL’s chief public relations officer B L Yashvanth Chavan, meanwhile, refuted the allegations of forced aquisition.

He said the church members should cooperate to assess how many of the trees can be transplanted.

“Instead, they have been blocking entry of officials, which has delayed the project. Despite making several changes to minimise inconvenience, we are not getting a positive response. Each day’s delay is costly and unaffordable as it leads to escalation of cost,” he said.

“The temporary acquisition of land is for four to six years during which the main gate to the church from Hosur Road will be closed. We have offered several suggestions to the BMRCL, including acquiring 106 sq m of defence land. At MG Road, they are building a station in an area of 192 sq m. Why can’t they do the same at Vellara,” asked Ebenezer Premkumar, a member of the church.

BMRCL maintains that the ‘stubborn and non-cooperative approach’ of the church members has affected the project.

Managing Director Ajay Seth noted in a letter to the CSI that the land requirement has been reduced from 4,480.573 sq m to 3,397.271 sq m as per the request of the church members.

The letter states that despite agreeing for a joint inspection, the CSI failed to nominate its members for the same after reminders from the BMRCL, resulting in ‘inordinate delay in commencing the metro works’.

“The BMRCL is constrained to initiate the process to acquire 3,797.271 sq m of land in All Saint’s Church premises on a permanent basis that facilitate construction of the metro station,” the letter warned.

Deeply distressing

Taking objection to the BMRCL’s attitude, the All Saints Church Congregation Welfare Association said ‘it was deeply distressing that BMRCL is adamant about destroying our church’.

“Some members have succumbed to pressure, not knowing that all this constitutes to a serious violation of law. The BMRCL should comply with the directions of the High Court of Karnataka (in cases related to change of land use and tree cutting),” the association said.