Controversy surrounds land granted for Vishnu memorial

All necessary clearances have been sought from the respective departments for the construction of the Dr Vishnuvardhan Memorial, said Shalini Rajneesh, commissioner of the Department of Information and Public Relations.

The officer was addressing a press conference on Saturday, a day after a Public Interest Litigation was filed by three environmentalists, challenging the notification issued by the government allotting two acres of land for the memorial.

Rajneesh refuted the claims made by R Sharath Babu, member of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Shivaraj N and Deepak C N, activists for wildlife conservation, that the area is part of the Turahalli reserve forest. The officer said, “The land where the memorial would be set up does not fall within the buffer zone of the forest.”

She said that a joint survey was conducted by the Revenue department, the Forest department and also the Survey department which has clarified that the land could be used for the construction of the memorial.

“According to Section 41(2) of the Karnataka Forest Rules, the Deputy Commissioner has powers to grant the land provided it does not fall within 100 metres of reserve forests. Also, the forest density of this area is less than 0.25, which is within permissible limit,” Rajneesh said.

An official from the Forest department was present at the press conference, but he was only a mute spectator. According to the petitioners, the land in question is home to 21 species of reptiles, 12 species of mammals and 69 species of birds.

Actor Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, who was also present, said that she was deeply saddened on hearing that a PIL has been filed.

The ceremony to lay foundation stone for the memorial that would be built by the Vishnuvardhan Foundation has been organised on December 30 on Vishnuvardhan Main Road, Kengeri.

An estimated cost of Rs 11 crore has been approved by the Cabinet for the memorial. The memorial will have an auditorium with seating for 350 people, a gallery with photographs of Vishnuvardhan and his movies, a museum and a meeting room. There will also be a statue of the actor there.

Meanwhile, a senior forest official from the Forest department said that they had not received any letter from Kannada and Culture department authorities seeking consent. “The land is in the buffer zone very close to the forest area and consent cannot be given,” he said.

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