After 15 years, BDA seeks environment nod for PRR

Till two years ago, the BDA argued that the project doesn’t require prior Environment Cleance
Last Updated : 28 November 2022, 00:01 IST

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After 15 years of unsuccessfully pushing the Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) project with an approval from the state environment impact assessment authority, the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) is finally following the law. It has approached the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) for environment clearance for the 73.3-km road.

Till two years ago, the BDA argued that the project doesn’t require prior Environment Cleance (EC), which involves scrutiny of potential harm caused by the project by an expert appraisal committee (EAC) appointed by the MoEF.

Only after the Supreme Court directed the authority to get its act together did the officials seek a clarification from the Union ministry. The MoEF told the BDA in December 2021 that PRR has to undergo scrutiny.

Sources told DH that the BDA submitted its request for EC only a few days ago.

However, even before approaching the MoEF, officials floated tenders for the construction of the road. Though the authority invited bids two times, no bidder took part. Sources said big companies shied away from the project due to the prevailing confusion.

An official said the “callous” approach towards the project has led to delays.

For instance, the BDA in 2020 sought 25 acres of Jarakabande reserved forest to build PRR. When the forest department sought details like survey numbers, the BDA last month reduced the requirement to 19.54 acres.

The BDA had previously lied to the expert appraisal committee by stating that forest clearance has been obtained to divert 1.5 hectares for the project. But later, it told the Supreme Court that the proposal for forest clearance was filed nearly 10 years later.

The delay has already caused psychological harassment of thousands of farmers and families. Since June 2007, the authorities have notified 2,567 acres and 22.25 guntas of land in 78 villages. Farmers slammed the post facto approach of the authority.

“They should have got these clearances years before acquiring my land. For 15 years, I have been unable do anything with my land. Moreover, there is no clarity if and when the project will happen,” said B Chandrashekhar, a farmer whose six acres have been notified by the BDA.

BDA Chairman S R Vishwanath said he was trying to solve the legacy issues. “The tenders were invited simultaneous with the EC application to save time. There have been several problems with the PRR project and I am trying to resolve them,” he said. A leading environment lawyer said project proponents were using gaps in the law to acquire land before getting the necessary clearances.

“Though the Supreme Court has directed (C Kenchappa Vs KIADB) that the adverse impact on environment must be studied before acquisition, it is routinely violated. The EIA Notification 2006 bars construction before getting the EC but is silent on the acquisition of land. This gap in the law is exploited by the project proponents,” he added.

'Compensation decision soon'

BDA Chairman S R Vishwanath said the PRR project will take off only after settling the compensation for farmers. "We cannot give the compensation prescribed by the 2013 law. The relief under the BDA Act will be too less. We are trying to find a middle ground. For example, the guidance value of 2018-19 may be taken to assess the compensation. I have sought a meeting with the chief minister on the matter," he said.

Published 27 November 2022, 19:14 IST

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