Cubbon Park: Registrar order came before HC verdict

Much before the High Court of Karnataka pronounced the ruling, its internal committee had accorded permission to demolish the office of the chief electoral officer to facilitate the construction of a seven-storey building in the Cubbon Park premises. 

However, the registrar of the high court, while communicating this to the government, pointed out that the decision needed to be carried out “only after obtaining” all necessary approvals and permissions from the competent authorities and the judicial side.



   High Court Registrar (Infrastructure and maintenance) M Chandrashekar Reddy had written to the Public Works Department on October 1 to convey that the HC Buildings Committee has approved the construction of the high court annexe building at Cubbon Park.

On October 17, a single bench of the high court delivered the judgement favouring the seven-storey structure in Cubbon Park, triggering controversy.

In his letter to the PWD executive engineer, Reddy said: “You are directed to demolish the old building of the office of the electoral officer situated in Cubbon Park, Bengaluru, as per the government order under reference for the construction of the high court annexe building after obtaining all necessary approvals/permission/licence/order from the competent authority and also from the judicial side.” 

 

 

An official, who spoke to DH on conditions of anonymity, described the decision as an administrative matter.



 “The registrar has followed the procedure after a decision was taken by the cabinet,” the official said. "The letter is also clear that this is subject to permissions from the competent authorities, besides the judiciary." However, proceedings at the meeting of a horticulture department committee headed by the additional chief secretary, set up to review proposals to renovate buildings inside Cubbon Park, revealed that department officials are unhappy over the clearance for the seven-storey building.

 The proceedings reveal that the officials, while reviewing a proposal to utilise additional space of 40.90 metres (north to south) and 26 m (east to west), other than the existing building, warned of serious environmental impact and also a security threat to the Vidhana Soudha.

The horticulture department also insisted that the building’s height should not exceed the second floor of the Vidhana Soudha.

Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar, whom DH spoke to on the issue, said the government approved the decision to construct the new building at a cabinet meeting on September 23.

Regarding the building’s height, he said: “We concluded this to be seven-storey building after considering the height of General Post Office and BSNL buildings that are situated in the Cubbon Park vicinity.”

When pointed out that the GPO and the BSNL buildings did not have thick vegetation around them as is the case with the building marked for demolition, Bhaskar said both those buildings were once part of the Cubbon Park area and had densely grown trees. “The buildings came up later,” he added.

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