A week after it razed the 150-year-old Murphy Town Library, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has once again come into controversy for bulldozing the wall of a 300-year-old temple in Chamrajpet to make room for an Indira Canteen.
On Monday night, even as residents of Chamarajpet gathered outside the Rameshwara Temple, the Palikeâ€™s earthmover brought down the wall of the temple. With stiff resistance from the locals, however, the work was halted before it could proceed any further.
Angry residents protested BBMPâ€™s move to construct an Indira canteen within the temple premises and refused to budge until the area Councillor, Kokila Chandrashekar of the Congress, arrived.
With no response from the local Councillor, the residents protested on Tuesday morning as well. Following this, Councillor Kokila arrived on the spot to pacify the locals.
However, an argument then ensued between the protesters and former Chamarajpet Councillor Chandrashekar, who is also Kokilaâ€™s husband. The protesters alleged to the media that Chandrashekar had attempted to assault them. However, the situation was averted by police intervention.
â€śThis land does not belong to the BDA, but to the Muzrai and Endowments Department. They have given us the go-ahead for construction of the canteen and there is more than enough space to build one inside the temple premise. We want to make sure that there is food for the poor,â€ť Councillor Kokila told TNM.
However, the Chamarajpet MLA, Zameer Ahmed Khan opposed the BBMPâ€™s actions, and urged that the heritage structure should not be harmed. Inspecting the area, Zameer Khan assured residents that the temple wall would be reconstructed.
â€śIt is wrong to raze a heritage structure and build a canteen in the temple premise if the residents are opposing it. We will ensure this does not happen,â€ť the MLA said.
The BBMP has been facing the heat for the slow progress in the construction of the Indira canteens, as only two weeks remain for the deadline originally announced for the inauguration of Indira Canteens in all wards of Bengaluru.
During his budget speech, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had announced that the canteens, modelled on the lines of the Amma Canteens in Tamil Nadu, would be set up in 198 wards by August 15. However, the BBMP now plans to open only a small number of canteens on that date, with the rest opened by October 2.
The BBMP has been hit with severe criticism as heritage structures and trees have been brought down to make room for the canteens in many areas.
On July 25, the Palike had razed a 150-year-old library located in Hoysala Nagarâ€™s Murphy Town Market to make way for the governmentâ€™s proposed Indira Canteen.
The building had been housing a library since 1983. Locals said that the library was shifted to another building two weeks ago.
However, the Palike defended its actions by saying that the library â€śhad to be razed because it was in a dangerous condition and would have collapsed at any timeâ€ť.
Just a day before the library was razed, the BBMP took over a playground on Malleshwaram 18th cross to build the canteenâ€™s building. The civic body also chopped the branches of an old Gulmohar tree near the playground.
In Vijayanagar, three trees were uprooted in a park near the Metro Station on July 22. Facing stiff resistance, the work was stopped. However, the earthmovers were back on July 28 and another tree was brought down.