Key landmarks to be wiped off City canvas

Ken art school, market, police station in Seshadripuram face the axe as BDA plans complex

A school of art that has produced many noted personalities over the past 44 years, a vegetable and fruit market which has been the sole source of livelihood for the families of 26 vendors for more than 60 years and a police station.

The stories of these three entities situated near Nehru Park in Seshadripuram intertwined on January 25 when the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) called for tenders to demolish them for the construction of a commercial complex with multi-level parking.

Spread over 5,086 sq metres, the plot includes legendary artist the late R M Hadapad’s Ken School of Art, the Seshadripuram Vegetable, Fruit and Mutton Market, a post office, Anjaneya temple and the police station.

The final plan has not touched the post office and temple. While the BDA has promised the vendors in the existing market area and the authorities at the police station that the upcoming complex will provide space to accommodate both, there is no clue about their temporary rehabilitation.

Navinchand G, Assistant Executive Engineer, BDA says till BBMP completes the eviction and rehabilitation process, the demolition will not take place. “Everyone will be rehabilitated by the Palike. It is their duty and not the BDA’s, as the land is owned by them.”

Ken School of Art
It was founded by Rudrappa Mallappa Hadapad, former chairman of Karnataka Lalitakala Academy. Renowned artists like M F Hussain, K K Hebbar, S Roerich and writer Chandrashekar Kambara had visited the place.

Kannada University, Hampi, to which the school is affiliated, had conferred the ‘Nadoja’ award on Hadapad.

The culturist was also presented the Rajyotsava Award and the prestigious Varnashilpi Venkatappa award by the State government. But less than half a decade after his death, the school and its 140 students face a dark future. The tiny house of Hadapad, attached to the school building, where his wife and second son still live may also face the axe. 

However, the school authorities have got the temporary stay order, issued by the city civil court, extended from February 6 to February 28.

Advocate M S Mohan claims that BDA’s invitation for tenders is in violation of the court order.
“The matter is still in court and the school will file for further extension of stay order. They are most likely to get the extension. So, how is it that BDA goes ahead inviting bids from firms for construction of the complex,” he asked.

In the notice sent on December 12 to Ken School, BBMP had asked the authorities to vacate the premises within 45 days. BBMP said Ken School is an unauthorised occupant. R Umesh finds this ironical.

“The plot was given to the school on lease and the rent has been collected regularly by the Palike. Even February’s rent has been paid. On what basis can they claim we are unauthorised occupants and even if we were, it took them 40 years to realise this?”

Vishwanath G K, Executive Engineer, BDA is not even aware of the stay order.

Seshadripuram Market
Every morning, all the 26 vendors here pray before a tree which was planted 50 years ago by a few vendors for shade.

Soon, neither will the tree remain nor the market, where two generations have engaged in trade.
The vendors claim they are yet to get the notice asking them to vacate. Subramaniam and Ponnuswamy, who hail from Tamil Nadu, have been selling their ware here for the past 50 years.

Ponnuswamy says: “I came here in 1960 and my family also joined me in selling vegetables. We do not have any other option for our livelihood,” he said. The vendors make close to Rs 6,000 every month which feeds at least three in the family.

They have little faith in the promise made by BDA as no written agreement has been prepared yet.

Police station
While the police station was not part of the initial draft plan, the final one published in the tender includes it. Police Inspector A Nagalingaiah says he will soon write to the BDA commissioner asking for a temporary rehabilitation.

“There is no clarity as to where the police station must shift. The present building is old and BDA has promised there will be space for the police station in the complex. Till then, where do we operate from?,” he said.

Another officer, on condition of anonymity, said: “The Palike has provided a place near a slum not far away from Seshadripuram Main Road. But the location is not the place to house a police station.”

Interestingly, despite the High Court’s recent interim order ruling that development agencies should follow the 1995 zoning regulations when it comes to commercial establishments, the tender document follows the ‘Revised Master Plan 2015’.

The BDA plans to start construction of the new complex in the next five months. The project cost is estimated at Rs 22.60 crore, which will be borne by BDA.

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