Citizens protest against annexe building in Cubbon Park

Citizens protest against annexe building in Cubbon Park

On our graves!

Residents, Workers, Locals and Students from all over Bangalore get together to save Cubbon Park from the treachery of chainsaws and bulldozers for the construction of a concrete giant on the premesis of the park. (DH Photo: Sneha Sengupta)

More than 500 citizens gathered in Cubbon Park on Sunday to protest against the proposed seven-storey Karnataka High Court annexe building inside its confines.

The protest was organised by the Cubbon Park Walkers Association and citizen group ‘Heritage Beku’ that works to protect the city’s history and heritage.

Joggers and walkers gathered at the Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar (Maharaja) statue on Sunday and were joined by various citizen groups, residents welfare associations, cyclists, historians and schoolgoers.

“The officials themselves admit that the Cubbon Park was about 300 acres earlier, but it has now been reduced to 150 acres,” freedom fighter H S Doreswamy, among the prominent citizens to take part in the protest, said while addressing the gathering.

“This means, if we keep quiet, there won’t be a park here in some days. This is the classic case of the fence eating the crop. The city is already polluted and children are affected by the pollution. If this kind of development is allowed, the health emergency of Delhi will be upon us,” he added.

Stressing the need for a lung space like Cubbon Park, Doreswamy urged the citizens to stand strong against the government and let it understand that they will not be quiet over their decision to turn the park into a graveyard.

“Let’s go and stop the construction of all the buildings inside the park. If the government wants to build a structure here, then it’ll be on our graves,” he said.

Citizens were critical of the government’s approach that harms the environment and heritage of the city, besides also ignoring public sentiments.

“We can’t tolerate this anymore,” said Umesh S, president, Cubbon Park Walkers Association.

“The park’s boundary has already been reduced by the authorities to make way for office spaces and recreational facilities. Several buildings have been built inside the park by paying just a few rupees as lease every year.”

Such constructions, Umesh feared, would totally destroy the green space for the future generation and run contrary to the vision of the city’s erstwhile planners and leaders. “If we don’t save the park now, our future generation will hold us accountable,” he said.  

‘A part of us’

Rajkumar Dugar, convener of NGO Citizens for Citizens, said the park has its own story to tell. Right from the time it began life as Mead Park, it has metamorphed into Cubbon Park and is known as Jayachamarajendra Park in more recent times.

“How can it tell its story when its character is facing all kinds of assaults?” Dugar asked. “The skyline or tree line of Cubbon Park shouldn’t be altered, but a seven-storey building will do that. It’ll set a wrong precedent.” 

Priya Chetty-Rajgopal, founder, Heritage Beku said the protest is a message to the government on what the public wants in the space that belongs to all. “We must protect our heritage so that the future generation can represent our (actual) social culture,” Priya said.

Volunteers vowed to intensify the protest if the government razes the existing heritage building.