Setback to new race course plan


A bench headed by Justice Markandeya Katju issued the orders on a petition filed by advocate Gopal Sankaranayanan. Sankaranayanan had submitted that the Karnataka government had initiated steps to transfer the land to the BTC and there was a need to ensure protection of tank beds which acted as sponge for rain water.

On August 7, the bench directed Karnataka to file its response in three weeks. Meanwhile, the Karnataka government went ahead with its plans and handed over a lease deed for 85 acres of land at Chikkajala-Doddajala to the BTC on Tuesday, with Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa stating that the BTC could continue to function on the Race Course Road premises till the new course is ready. The BTC’s lease on the current premises expires on December 31, this year.

The Supreme Court order could come as a blow to those plans even as the BTC is preparing to sign the lease deed. The government plans had also been challenged by M K Balakrishnan and others. “Karnataka be restrained from interfering with the current status of the tank beds in the State, and most particularly the 152-acre extent in Chikkajala/Doddajala in North Bangalore where the BTC racecourse is to be shifted,’’ said the petition.

Land allotment

It said the State government had decided to allot 95.32 acres of a 152-acre tank bed in Yelahanka to the BTC.

The adjoining area of 56 acres of the land is covered by a water body, while the entire extent of land sought to be converted through levelling and construction into a race course is pure tank bed, which provides a source for ground water absorbtion. The petitioner said as per the 2001 policy paper of the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP), Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Orissa accounted for 60 per cent of the country’s tank irrigated area and have lost as much as 37 per cent of their area from 1965 to 2000.

In Bangalore, a study by the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, found that the tank and lake cover had reduced by over 2,300 acres between 1975 and 2005 leading to adverse impact on the environment.

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