Temple not the only grabber of lake land, say revenue officials

The monumental task of moving the 62-foot-tall statue of Hanuman from Kolar to Kacharakanahalli has brought this obscure Bengaluru neighbourhood and its dead, encroached lake to the fore.

The 750-tonne statue is being set up by the Sri Rama Chaitanya Vardhini Trust near the Kodandarama Swamy Temple in Kacharakanahalli.

According to M K Jagadish, Assistant Commissioner, Bengaluru North subdivision, the temple and the proposed statue were located on a lakebed.

The temple, its two choultries, an Isckon goshala, a BDA layout and a slum are among the many occupants of the 56-acre plot in Survey No 153, still listed as 'government lake' in revenue records.

Jagadish said that about 26 acres of the land, part of the lake, now formed a BDA layout. The other properties are spread over around 10 acres while approximately 20 acres of land is vacant.

He said that in 2015, under the then Bengaluru Urban commissioner V Shankar, the administration made its first attempt to reclaim the government property.

"We cannot demolish the temple, so we tried to bring it under the Muzrai Department. But the temple trust moved the court and obtained a stay. The high court ordered a status quo," Jagadish said.

He said that as part of the plan to take back the government lake land, the administration intended to rehabilitate residents of the slum, who were occupying about 16 guntas of land.

When asked about the BDA layout, he said the property belonged to the revenue department and the government would have to decide on that.

Padmanabha Reddy, the corporator of Kacharakanahalli and the vice-president of the trust which manages the temple, however, claims that the land - 450 ft by 450 ft in Survey No 153 - rightfully belongs to the temple.

According to him, the temple has been around for about 500 to 600 years.

"There was a case which went on from 1990 to 2009 in the high court and the Supreme Court. In 2009, the case was decided in our favour. The status quo in the 2015 case is only related to the acquisition by the Muzrai Department and not about the ownership of the land," Reddy said. He added that the temple authorities had all property documents to prove their ownership.

Reddy claimed to not remember the year in which the trust was set up or the year in which he became the vice-president.

Meanwhile, Jagadish said the state government had moved an interlocutory application before the high court to vacate the 2015 status quo order so that it could take possession of the lake land. When the matter is next heard on April 16, it also intends to bring the issue of the statue installation to the court's notice.

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