The fourth tower that City hasn't seen

Since Independence, Bangaloreans have not been able to set their eyes on the fourth of a quartet of towers built by the city’s founder to mark the limits of the city’s growth, thanks to the Madras Engineering Group (MEG).

The Kempegowda tower stands partly obscured by trees. DH photo

The battle support group of the Indian Army has taken over a piece of land near Ulsoor Lake on which the fourth of the towers built in 1597 tower stands. The Sappers claim to have taken the land on lease from the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), but Palike officials deny the land has been leased. It has been encroached upon by MEG, they say.

The towers were constructed by Kempegowda to demarcate the boundaries of Bendakaluru that he founded in the year 1537. The State Archaeological Department has declared them protected monuments.

Far from the public eye, the MEG has fenced off portions of land. The action taken by the MEG may have contravened the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

Under Section 2 (B) of the act, “any archaeological site and remains means any area which contains or is reasonably believed to contain ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in existence for not less than one hundred years, and includes— Such portion of land adjoining the area as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving it, and the means of access to, and convenient inspection of the area.”

Officials in the Archaeological Department say that they have not been able to take possession of the tower as the MEG had acquired the land around the protected monument, including the tower, from the BBMP ‘on lease’. “The MEG has struck a deal with the BBMP, we cannot enter their premises now,” said the official.

On their part, BBMP officials say that no such lease agreement between the Palike and the MEG exists.

“The entire land fenced, measuring 42,675 sqft, is all encroached upon. We have never had a lease agreement with the MEG,” said a senior official from the Palike Estates Department.

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