Canteens in place of public spaces wrong

Canteens in place of public spaces wrong

The tearing hurry with which the wholly unwarranted ‘Indira canteens’ are coming up all over Bengaluru city, with sanction and patronage of the state government, is a clear case of lack of vision and misuse of power by the political leaders. Historically, Bengaluru has always had a large number of hotels, restaurants and, of late, ‘Darshinis’ which have been catering to a variety of palates and purses. Opening eating places should hardly have been a priority for the state government which has other onerous responsibilities. But, the approaching election to the Karnataka Assembly has prompted the Siddaramaiah government to resort to various types of gimmicks to attract voters, and Indira Canteen — on the lines of neighbouring Tamil Nadu’s Amma Canteen — is the latest brainwave that is being tried out with disastrous consequences to the city’s heritage, aesthetics and environment.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which has been entrusted with the task of setting up around 100 canteens to serve food at reasonable cost to the people by the comingIndependence Day, has been going about its job in such a ham-handed manner that it has not spared even temples, parks, playgrounds and hospitals in its quest for ‘central’ locations. Among the places already vandalised are the historic Banashankari temple and the Muneshwara temple. The BBMP has written to the Muzarai Department to spare some space for a canteen in the over 300-year-old Rameshwara temple in Chamarajpet, which has been strongly opposed by the local people. Should these places of worship be desecrated mindlessly?

A large number of parks and playgrounds have also been encroached upon, depriving children and other citizens of their right to have open spaces in residential areas. Near Jayanagar, children are being deprived of their play area as a canteen is coming up there. What’s worse, the officials entrusted with the civil work of establishing these canteens — and also their superiors — have such scant respect for the city’s greenery that they are felling trees indiscriminately. In Jogupalya, eastern Bengaluru, three trees instead of one have been razed to make way for the canteen. Complaints made to BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad have elicited bland responses or blatant lies about the number of trees being cut. It has shocked the conscience of the people. People are questioning why the BBMP is allotting the green spaces to build these canteens. It is time to remind the BBMP commissioner that he and his officers should respect the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act 1976, and put an end to the blatant violation of its rules and regulations.

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