HC stays work on Sirsi Circle-Agara signal-free corridor

In a major victory for citizens, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice Aravind Kumar on Wednesday stayed further progress on the Sirsi Circle-Agara signal free corridor until a committee formed under the Additional Chief Secretary, along with the citizens, agreed upon the alignment of the corridor.

Disposing the matter, the Division Bench set a precedence by directing civic agencies like the BBMP and the BDA to involve the citizens who are likely to be affected by the ‘development’ projects.

On March 6, Citizens Action Forum (CAF) and others had filed a PIL praying the HC to pass an order and restrain the civic agencies from proceeding with the construction of four grade separators in Koramangala, which formed part of the Signal Free Corridor.

Recording the submission of the BDA counsel that the chief minister had already constituted a committee to address the grievances of the Koramangala citizens regarding the project, the Division Bench has ordered that “until the Committee submits its report and the government takes a decision on the report, no further work will be permitted”.

The Bench also delivered a strict timeline to the Committee stating that they are to have their first meeting by August 13. The committee will have to give its findings by September 15 and the government must take a decision by October 5.

To ensure that the civic agencies do not proceed without taking into account the grievances of the citizens, the Court further elaborated on the procedure to be followed by the government, observing that they would have to “advertise in papers inviting all members of the public with an interest in the project to attend the Committee proceedings and depose before it. Any people interested must be given a chance to present the case before the committee.”

It may be recalled that in May, the BDA proceeded with the project without taking into confidence the High Court or the Committee proceedings, which were yet to take place. As a result, the petitioners had filed a contempt petition against the BDA and the then Commissioner Bharath Lal Meena.

The Chief Justice asked the petitioners to withdraw the contempt case in the interest of amicable discussions.

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