Cubbon Park turns 150 in 2020, but has nothing to cheer

Cubbon Park turns 150 in 2020, but has nothing to cheer

An aerial view of Cubbon Park in Bengaluru. DH Photo/Dinesh SK

Turning 150 should call for a big celebration. But come 2020, there is little to cheer for Cubbon Park, which was created back in 1870.

Yes, the historical park in gradually losing its greenery, with new structures coming up within its once pristine precincts over the years.

The plight of heritage buildings, which are part of this unique, world-famous park, is no better.

It is unfortunate that one the oldest parks in the country is seeing authorities themselves, including the judiciary, encroaching on greenery by constructing newer and bigger structures within the park area.

According to senior counsel N P Amrutesh who has been practising at the Karnataka High Court since 1987, it is necessary to carry out a comprehensive re-survey of the entire Cubbon Park based on the original map of the city.

Only then can the park be preserved and encroachment on its premises removed, Amrutesh said.

Going to seed

1975: Karnataka Government Park (Preservation) Act, 1975 passed. Section (4) bans constructions within all parks maintained by the state government. No land should be granted to nor any construction permitted by any organisation or individual in Cubbon Park and Lalbagh except those by the Horticulture Department for its related activities.

1983: A notification on September 27, 1983 modifies the earlier notification of September 13, 1975, seeking to exempt the high court, Vidhana Soudha, Legislators’ Home, Raj Bhavan, tennis stadium and LRDE from the purview of the park.

1995: BDA’s CDP shows the entire Legislators’ Home complex as being reserved for “public and semi-public use” contradicting the classification as “park” according to the 1983 notification, thereby violating the Parks Act.

1997: Advocate N P Amrutesh files PIL questioning construction of a multi-storey building by a private company beside the Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum. The petition was rejected.

1998-2003: About 13 petitions filed in high court by environmentalist Bimal Desai and others after which gates were installed at the park’s four entrances and vehicles were prohibited between 10 pm and 8 am. Political rallies through the park were banned. But he lost the case pertaining to the construction of the Legislators' Home.

2001: It was a high court division bench that put a complete ban on construction in Cubbon Park. While deciding on the case of G K Govinda Rao vs the State of Karnataka, the court categorically directed the state government not to take up any new construction in Cubbon Park. Senior Counsel Leo Saldanha also impeded in the matter.

2004-2018: Cubbon Park Walkers' Association president and advocate S Umesh files several petitions against illegal constructions within Century Club, tennis club, Press Club, YMCA, high Court and other structures within the park.

2010: The state government denotifies parts of Cubbon Park and Lalbagh for several reasons like the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain, road widening, RV Road elevated Metro station, 2,126.71 sq m land in Cubbon Park between Vidhana Soudha and high court and 11,160 sq m land in Cubbon Park around Vidhana Soudha, high court and GPO.

2015: In July 2015, the state Cabinet decided to exclude all 27 government buildings and the space surrounding the boundaries of the 193-acre Cubbon Park. Buildings included the high court, Press Club, State Election Commissioner's office, Indira Gandhi Children's Library, Secretariat Club, Venkatappa Art Gallery, GPO, YMCA and Yavanika State Youth Centre.

2019: The high court granted permission for construction of a seven-storied annexe building of Karnataka High Court by demolishing the old Election Commissioner's Office, which is situated between the Press Club and old KGID building.