Save 'beautiful Bengaluru', don’t change land use: SC

The court said lands were being denotified or dropped from acquisition at the instance of land mafia in connivance with politicians. Reuters

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Karnataka government, Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) not to permit change of land use in the city.

The court said lands were being denotified or dropped from acquisition at the instance of land mafia in connivance with politicians, affecting basic amenities of the people in the city.

The top court said that in the name of development, Bengaluru which was once beautiful, has paid dearly, as traffic jams, overcrowding, haphazard construction, dying lakes, destruction of flora, shrinking of lung spaces etc have become the order of the day. "Its clear, cool, foggy air has turned into grey smoke and brown dust," the court said.

"What is lost has already been lost and no amount of work or effort can bring back the glorious garden days of Bangalore. The only thing that can be done and must be done is to at least wake up now, meticulously plan and develop the city in order to maintain whatever little is left of the old Bengaluru city and develop the ever-growing city on the broad lines of the glorious days of the past," a three-judge bench presided over by Justice Arun Mishra said.

Dealing with a matter related to formation of a layout in a petition filed by Vinayak House Building Co-operative Society, the court said the government should refrain from denotifying or dropping any land being acquired for the formation of a layout. If any land is to be denotified, its use should strictly be in accordance with the proposed scheme.

"We make it clear that henceforth, the planning/development authorities in Karnataka, including the BDA shall not permit change of land use within the layout or a private layout, contrary to the scheme sanctioned," the bench ordered.

The court that warned the sites reserved for parks, playgrounds or for providing other amenities shall be used strictly for the purpose and violation of any of these directions by the authorities will be viewed strictly.

The bench, also comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah noted that after de-notification, multi-storied complexes come up on these lands comprising large number of residential and non-residential units, which has a direct impact on the existing infrastructure, water supply, sewerage and lighting.

"Similarly, traffic movement suffers unbearable burden and is often thrown out of gear because the original scheme/layout plan did not envisage construction of these complexes...The purchasers of residential sites, who wish to have a roof over their heads, fall prey to the designs of unscrupulous land mafias," the bench said.

Irreparable damage has already been done to many layouts in Bengaluru and in other places by allowing construction of multi-storied buildings within the layouts, the bench said.

Quoting Justice O Chinnappa Reddy, who said, "Bengaluru was a beautiful city, once," Justice Nazeer, writing the judgement on behalf of the bench, said, "Indeed, Bengaluru was a beautiful city. It had luscious gardens, beautiful lakes, well-laid out roads, plenty of open spaces and wonderful weather throughout the year. It was one of the most beautiful cities in the country. It was rightly called the 'Garden City' and a 'Pensioners' Paradise'. These are things of the past."

The city's environment is degraded so much and so fast that the time will not be far away for us to say "once upon a time, Bengaluru was a beautiful city", the court said.

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