Exclusive: Citizens win as Karnataka government drops plans to build multi-storey building in Cubbon Park

The decision sparked opposition from environmentalists, activists, and citizens who have been demonstrating against the government.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Feb 12, 2024 | 5:10 PMUpdated Feb 12, 2024 | 8:57 PM

Exclusive: Citizens win as Karnataka government drops plans to build multi-storey building in Cubbon Park

It’s a win for citizens of Bengaluru who have been fighting against buildings in Cubbon park.

Following severe backlash and protests from environmentalists and citizens, the Karnataka government’s Department of Horticulture has abandoned its plans to construct a multi-storey building within Sri Chamarajendra Park (Cubbon Park).

Instead, they are now actively seeking alternative sites within Bengaluru City.

News reports emerged that the Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government had revived the plan to build a 10-storey annex for the Karnataka High Court in Cubbon Park. The revival plan was based on a 2019 high court order allowing construction without tree removal. The state government considered demolishing the old Election Office within the park for this purpose.

The decision sparked opposition from environmentalists, activists, and citizens who have been demonstrating against the government for the past week. Even netizens joined in, criticising the government and urging them to abandon the construction plans within Cubbon Park.

Adding her voice to the cause, Biocon’s Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw vehemently opposed the government’s plan, appealing for Cubbon Park to be spared from such activities.

Also Read: Guarantee schemes pulling 1.2 crore families out of poverty, says Karnataka Governor in address to legislature

Finding alternate site: Horticulture Secretary

In a sigh of relief, officials of Karnataka’s Public Works Department (PWD) and Department of Horticulture are now exploring alternative sites within Bengaluru City for the multi-storey building meant for the Karnataka High Court, steering away from Cubbon Park.

Secretary of the Department of Horticulture, Dr Shamla Iqbal, told South First, “This plan was stalled in 2019 due to various reasons. Based on the high court order, the government was compelled to revive the construction of a 10-storey building inside the Cubbon Park.”

“The high court has issued order based on the plea filed by the court registrar on the matter. In the latest court order, it has directed to take up the construction work with reviving building plans, permitting for the development of the 10-storey building,” she added.

She acknowledged the protests and opposition, stating, “We are aware of the protests and opposition from the people regarding the said project. We have decided to change the location and are looking for alternative sites in Bengaluru for the construction of the building.”

“The process is underway at the higher authorities’ level. The Public Works Department is looking after this project,” Secretary Shamla concluded.

Also Read: In strategy meeting sans ally JD(S), Amit Shah gives Karnataka BJP ‘action plan’ for Old Mysuru region

Protest staged against new building 

A spirited protest unfolded on Sunday, 11 February, against the Siddaramaiah government’s proposed construction of a multi-storey building in Cubbon Park. The Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association, in collaboration with various organisations, orchestrated the demonstration at Cubbon Park on Sunday, drawing participants from every age group.

Individuals gathered at Cubbon Park bearing placards with slogans denouncing the government’s plans. Some of the placards carried messages like “We demand officials who will safeguard the greenery of Cubbon Park”, “Remove the buildings from Cubbon Park”, “Don’t permit construction activities in Cubbon Park”, and “I Cubbon Park your lung space”.

Even school children, fervently participating in the protest, expressed their displeasure by cycling and skating in Cubbon Park.

Speaking to South First, Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association President Umesh K conveyed his dismay, “In 2019, when the government initiated the construction of the multi-storey building, we had vehemently opposed it. Even the then-high court chief justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and the then-chief secretary Rajendra Singh Kataria had expressed their support.”

Expressing deep concern over recent developments, Umesh urged the government to replace lethargic officers in the Horticulture Department, who have been stationed in the same roles for over a decade.

Emphasising that Cubbon Park belongs to everyone, he added, “Cubbon Park is not my property; the officials should consider it as their property and make efforts to save it. We need to safeguard this rich park and preserve it for the next generations.”

He further said, “If the government develops a 10-storey building, then the other buildings located in the park will also raise the height of the buildings. Once the construction is over, a parking facility has to be provided, which will take up more space. If the same saga continues, one day, Cubbon Park will be submerged. We will be compelled to show the park via online or videos.”

Also Read: ‘We aren’t begging. This is farmers’ right’, Krishna Byre Gowda tells Amit Shah

In her post on X, raising her voice against plans to construct a new building at Cubbon Park, Biocon’s Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said, “Why are we destroying our Garden City with such harebrained proposals!”

“Cubbon Park must be untouched. No construction should be permitted,” demanded Kiran.

In his post on X, former journalist Gautham Machaiah said, “Absolutely shocking that a proposal to construct a 10-storey annex to the high court within Cubbon Park premises has been revived.”

“Every right-thinking citizen should condemn this murder of Bengaluru’s lung space,” Machaiah expressed his anguish.

Opposing the government’s plan, BJP MP PC Mohan said, “The Congress government’s proposal to erect a 10-storey annex in Cubbon Park is an assault on our city’s greenery.”

“Bengaluru’s beloved lung space must be safeguarded, not suffocated by concrete monstrosities. Every Bengalurean must vehemently oppose and stop this green genocide,” Mohan demanded the state government to immediately stop.