Public consultation on projects must: HC

Rules while hearing a petition on transfer of land to Bangalore Metro

By Sumana Narayanan
Published: Tuesday 27 December 2011

The Karnataka High Court has ruled that all urban development projects must comply with the state's Town and Country Planning Act. The Act requires public consultations be carried before implementation of any project. The decision came while hearing a petition against transfer of land to Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation.

A part of city's public garden, Lalbagh in South Bengaluru, was transferred to the Metro through a government order in February 2009. This was opposed by environmentalists and residents. The non-profit, Environment Support Group (ESG) and a citizen’s network, Hasiru Usiru had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the High Court in 2009 against the use of public recreational space for the Metro. The PIL said the transfer of 1135 square metres of land was a violation of Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act of 1961.

“The court’s judgement means that henceforth all projects will have to comply with the Act and if the government does not do so, the officials will be held in contempt,” said Leo Saldhana of ESG. Activists hope this ruling will set a precedent ensuring development projects involve communities from the start. “Unfortunately this is too late for the part of the Lalbagh given to the Metro. The construction at the site has gone ahead though the petition was pending in the court,”  Saldhana added

The order also required the government to evaluate the current market value of the land and the money be deposited with the horticulture department, which manages the park, before the land is handed over. This was not followed (See Opinion divided on Bangalore Metro ).

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