Forest dept yet to part with Kadugodi land for Metro

Forest dept yet to part with Kadugodi land for Metro

Land barricaded by BMRCL for its Metro corridor in Kadugodi. DH photo/Janardhan B K

BMRCL, which started work on the Metro corridor near the Kadugodi reserve forest near Whitefield, it is yet to get the forest land for its Metro depot and station.

In exchange for 42 acres of land in Kadugodi reserve forest, BMRCL had offered the forest department 26.5 acres land near Dandeli Tiger Reserve in Uttara Kannada and 16 acres in Basavanatara reserve forest near Bengaluru. While the forest department agreed to swap the Dandeli land, it has refused the Basavantara land citing that it is next to an abandoned quarry and not suitable for plantation.

“We are aware of Metro work on land abutting the forest. We have returned the Basavanatara land to BMRCL. We have instead sought land near Thippangondanahalli. We have accepted the Dandeli land as it will increase the tiger reserve’s area,” Dipika Bajpai, deputy conservator of forests, Bengaluru urban told DH.

Forest officials state the land will be leased to BMRCL under the Forest Conservation Act 1980. There will be no diversion of ownership. After the forest department gets suitable land, the file will be sent to the Union government for approval as it is a reserve forest.

While conservationists term it a cheap deal, the forest department defends it stating that they have no alternative. “Land in Bengaluru costs over Rs 1 crore an acre and land in Dandeli is relatively cheap. There is a need to conserve green patches in Bengaluru. BMRCL can purchase private or revenue pockets in Kadugodi,” said a conservationist.

“Metro is a mass public transport project. We refused to part with land near the Roerich estate on Kanakapura Road, as it was near the elephant corridor. But we are not able to refuse this land,” said another forest official.

To avoid delay, officials are surveying the forest. BMRCL has formed a high-power committee to intervene and find the most suitable land at the earliest. BMRCL has set a four-month timeline to acquire the Kadugodi land and complete all negotiations. “Things are being negotiated and work is going on. Negotiations on compensation for land is also being discussed,” said U A Vasanth Rao, chief public relations officer, BMRCL.