Forest Dept says no to IIMB construction near Ragihalli

Forest Dept says no to IIMB construction near Ragihalli

DH photo

The Karnataka Forest Department has denied permission to the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru (IIMB) to go ahead with a construction project on a patch of Gomala land adjoining the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP).

IIMB had sought an NOC from the BNP regarding the project. The management institute was planning the construction work on the 110 acres of land on survey number 47, in Mahantalinga grama, Jigani hobli. Adjacent to the Ragihalli forest, the land shares a common boundary with the BNP. The decision was taken in order to protect the fragmented patches of forest surrounding the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP).

“Over 40% of the land slopes, split into two parts (77 and 33 acres) by the Hebballa river. The river is the life line for wild animals, especially elephants. It is 35 to 40 feet wide. 1,600 metres of the river falls in survey number 47. On many occasions, including the migratory season, elephants visit the river. It is also a water shed area. Since it is a crucial location, permission cannot be given,” said a forest department official.

But the BNP staff are worried. “IIMB is mounting pressure on the government and in turn, on us to give the NOC. This has come at a time when environment ministry has proposed to reduce the eco-sensitive zone within BNP,” the official said.

The land was given to IIMB in December 2011, by the Deputy Commissioner for a 30-year lease. Initially, the IIMB applied to the BNP for NOC in February, and later in September.

IIMB Project Manager M S Vishwanath said the BMRDA got approval from the forest department, but officials denied this, and said that they have sought clarifications.

In the 14-point rejection report, a copy of which is with DH, BNP officials reasoned that the construction will affect the natural flow of the Hebballa river. “Due to the slope there will be soil erosion. IIMB has not submitted any silt management plan. No impact study of the change of land use has been done. Construction can lead to changes in water course, flow, increase pollution level and reduce the volume of water. No affluent discharge report has been shared. A detailed study by the State Level Impact Assessment Authority is needed,” an official said.

Officials also stated that they were following the National Green Tribunal order which mandates a 75-metre buffer zone around every water body. They also pointed to the National Board for Wildlife rule that all non-forestry works should be 10 kms away from forested areas.