Sankey Tank road widening gets High Court green signal

BBMP directed to complete the work within 12 months

A file photo of a resident sticking a poster on a tree protesting the widening of Sankey Road near Malleswaram 18th Cross.

Passing orders on the writ petition filed by Meenakshi Bharat and others, the Division Bench comprising Justices N Kumar and H S Kempanna ruled that there was no mala fide intention on the part of the BBMP and the road was being widened in public interest.

The BBMP has also been directed to take preventive steps to ensure that the Sankey tank bund is not breached under the guise of development and widening of the road and also take effective steps to see that the saplings planted are protected.

The Court has also directed the NGO Hasiru Usiru to coordinate with the BBMP to protect and preserve the tank bund as a part of the environmental protection programme. Further, Hasiru Usiru has been given the liberty to approach the Court, if the BBMP does not comply with the Tree Preservation Act, while cutting trees along the side of the road.

The Bench directed the BBMP to complete the process of road widening within 12 months from the date of the judgment. On the question whether the decision to widen the road ran contrary to the provisions of Section 13(1) of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act 1961, the Bench ruled in the negative stating that the decision to widen the road to 30 metres was taken in 1984 and whatever subsequent changes were made to the plan, the length of the road was not changed.

Since a public opinion was taken in 1984, the Court ruled that it was not mandatory for the civic body to again take public opinion on the width of the road. Further, the Court accepted that the stretch from Bhashyam Circle to Malleswaram 18th Cross needed to be widened to accommodate the heavy traffic coming from and moving towards Yeshwantpur.

The Court criticised the civic agencies and observed: “The plan to increase the road length to 30 metres was taken in 1984. Unfortunately it shows how a public authority functions as even after 26 years, the civic authorities are unable to provide the said road.”

While acknowledging the environmental concerns behind the cutting of the trees to
facilitate the road widening, the Court observed that it was important to strike a balance between ecological balance and development as both were required.

Encroachment by school

The Court also directed the BBMP to take steps to settle the civil dispute involving encroachment of the BBMP land by a school on the stretch. About 600 sq metres of land has allegedly been encroached by a school, and the institute had filed a civil suit to prevent the BBMP from taking any action against it. Ever since the BBMP decided to fell 19 trees on the stretch between Bhashyam Circle in Sadashivanagar and Malleswaram 18th Cross, residents of Malle­swaram have been staging a determined protest to save the trees and protest against the road widening. But BBMP has so far managed to fell 17 of the 19 trees and with this order, they can now fell the remaining two trees and widen the Sankey Road to 27 metres from the existing 12 metres.

The stretch from 18th cross to CNR Rao Junction is 16.5 metres wide and from there to Yeshwantpur Circle it is 24 metres. The entire stretch will be uniformly widened to 27 metres.

In its argument, the BBMP had submitted that prior to launching the road widening drive, it had referred the matter to an expert committee of Directorate of Urban Land Transport.

The report prepared by it said that the stretch from Bhashyam Circle along the Sankey Road had to be widened, but it was very difficult as the road passed through a tank bed.
It also said that the land had been encroached and suggested recovering it and widening the road with a slight change in alignment, as no land acquisition was required.

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