A protest was held on Saturday against the proposed demolition of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) complex- a landmark government building in Indira Nagar that houses 165 tenants and offers public services as well.
Residents came together under the banner of United Bengaluru - a citizens’ movement to safeguard Bengaluru's lakes and was supported by iChange Indira Nagar, a citizens’ group.
The protest was held by residents of Indira Nagar who gathered at the building at around 5pm. They are staunchly opposed to the BDA's plan of demolishing the existing residential complex and claim that if it is demolished, then an environmental-friendly alternative should come up in its place.
"We do not want the building to be demolished. We prefer it gets renovated and maintained. But if BDA indeed demolishes it, then we want a tree park in its place", said one of the residents, Swarna Venkataraman.
Protesters also pointed out that building a new shopping complex in its place as planned by the BDA, would result in 171 trees being axed, which would be in violation of National Green Tribunal (NGT) regulations regarding lake buffer zones.
Further, the proposed redevelopment site is 75 metres away from the periphery of Binnamangala Lake and is 50 metres away from the primary rajakaluve of the lake, according to the residents.
Protesters accused the BDA of cashing in on short-term benefits from building a new shopping complex.
In January, reports indicated that the BDA was planning to construct a two-block market at a cost of Rs 657 crore, which included the cost of relocation and rehabilitation of the existing tenants.
The BDA complex is only around 32 years old and residents in the area believe that it should not be demolished. "it is a public property for the services of the public. Any decision on the development of BDA should be done after discussing with residents. The BDA’s plan will increase commercial activity in the area and we don't want that. Indira Nagar is our home and we want it to be treated like a residential area,” said Aruna Newton, another resident.
Swarna further pointed out that the national standard for open spaces is 6 sq. metres per person while in Indira Nagar, it was currently at 0.54 sq. metres per person. "This is not development. The BDA is planning 1,000 car parks and is planning to cut nearly 200 trees for it,” she said.
The protest was attended by BJP MLA Raghu and MPs Rajeev Chandrasekhar and PC Mohan. All three leaders said that they would approach the BDA on Monday over the issue. “There cannot be a violation of NGT rules. If BDA or a private contractor does this (redevelopment), they will be doing it at the risk of contravening the law. We won’t allow it and will take this protest to its logical conclusion."