Human chain protest in Cubbon Park on Nov 9

The Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association is protesting against the plan to build a seven-storey building in Cubbon Park

The plan includes the demolition of the erstwhile Election Commission building.

Protests are continuing against the proposal to build a seven-storey court annexe in Cubbon Park.

The High Court in October gave a go-ahead for the construction, and activists and heritage lovers are rallying against it in a big way.

Advocate S Umesh, president of the Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association, has filed a public interest petition against the government on November 5.

The PIL petition says the park was established in 1870 by John Meade, the then acting Commissioner of Mysore, and “the state government ought to have obtained the necessary permission from the Division Bench at the Honourable Court before taking any steps in the matter”.

The petition says the government “has rushed in a hurry to accord approval”.

Umesh spoke to Metrolife about the grounds on which the association is contesting the decision: “This permission is not in accordance with the Karnataka Parks and Playgrounds Preservation Act of 1975. We are expecting a hearing in the coming week.”

The walkers’ association is forming a human chain in Cubbon Park on November 9, from 8 am to 10 am, to protest against the proposal.

Priya Rajagopal Chetty, founder of Heritage Beku, started an online petition last week, and has received support from more than 17,000 citizens.

She says that the petition aims to create awareness about what is happening in Cubbon Park.

“We supported the protest last Sunday, when cyclists, pet owners, yoga enthusiasts and others who experience the park were around,” she says.  

Heritage Beku will extend its support to the human chain protest on Saturday.

“We are setting up a small team to get heritage status from UNESCO for Cubbon Park. We have started a think tank with former bureaucrats, lawyers, planners, architects and historians to work on a heritage law and guidelines,” she says. 

What happened

The proposed building is to come up where the old Election Commissioner’s office stood, between the Press Club and the KGID building.

According to a High Court order in the G K Govinda Rao vs State of Karnataka and other cases, any construction within Cubbon Park has to be approved by the court.

The Registrar-General of the Karnataka High Court appealed in September 2014, seeking permission for a new building, cutting down 17 trees and shifting the existing road.

After five years, a single judge bench with Justice P S Dinesh Kumar on October 17 permitted the construction, with the plan revised not to cut trees and shift the road.

Legally speaking

Advocate Vineet Bhat points out that the courts interpret the law while the legislature makes the laws.

“The requirement of the court’s consideration comes from the G K Govinda Rao case. The High Court had then held that any fresh construction in Cubbon Park should meet with its express clearance. Here, the Registrar General had filed a writ petition seeking permission.

“This was approved by a single judge bench, which is not final. The matter is before a division bench which includes the Chief Justice. The court has to determine now if the single judge was right in according permission,” he says.

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