MCC tweaking rules to build Central Library in People's Park: Forum

MCC tweaking rules to build Central Library in People's Park: Forum

Convenors of the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP), who have been fighting against the proposal to construct a building for the Central Library in the People’s Park for over two decades now, have rubbished the claims of the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) and the State Library Department that 5% of the space in parks can be used for construction of some structure for the public good.

Bhamy Shenoy, one of the convenors of the MGP, said that we believe in the sanctity of law.  “Since mid 1990s, the MGP is striving to uphold the rule of law in the People’s Park row by mobilising public opinion on several occasions. Recently, the Library department had filed a caveat to ensure that the MGP does not get a stay order against its relentless efforts to construct a library in the People’s Park. Construction of any building, even a library for public good, is in violation of the Karnataka Parks, Playfields and Open Space (Preservation and Regulation) Act, 1985,” he said.

“A few years ago in a case between the MGP and the MCC, the High Court had stayed the construction of the office building of the MCC in the Cheluvamba Park. There is some misconception in the minds of some elected representatives and also officials that the Parks Act allows 5% use to meet public needs like a library. The Act does not allow any construction except quarters for watchmen not exceeding 30 square meters and even that should only be constructed when the area of the park exceeds two hectares,” he clarified.

“Even if the Library department succeeds in constructing a library, it is more likely that the court will order its demolition, just like it happened in the case of the Cheluvamba Park a few years back. If it happens, Mysureans will be losers again. As citizens would not only lose the benefit of a library, they will also lose money when an expensive building is demolished to comply with the law. All of us love libraries and Mysuru should have a world class library but not in a park. There are many excellent locations in the city, which are centrally located and more convenient to the public if the officials have the will to find them,” Shenoy said.
Back in the 1980s during the World Kannada Conference, a decision to construct a library in the People’s park was taken. Then, there was no Karnataka Parks and Open Spaces Act. In 1984, the MCC handed over a part of the land to the Library Authority to construct a library. In 1985 the Karnataka Parks and Open Spaces Act was enacted and it should have made the Library Authority seek an alternative site.

In the early 1990s, the MCC signed a contract to hand over the land to a private contractor who was ready to build a library free of cost. In return, he was given permission to build a commercial complex. In 1995, 124 trees in the park were felled without getting permission from the Forest department. In the late 1990s it looked like the Library Authority dropped the project but again, in the early 2000, an attempt was made to use the People’s Park as a bus stand.

In 2012, the foundation stone to construct the library was laid by then Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda for the second time. In 2015, while celebrating the centenary year of the Mysuru Central Library, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced the construction of the library in the People’s Park. The Library Authority decided to construct the library in the People’s Park again in a meeting chaired by Mayor M J Ravi Kumar recently.