"At present they are occupying these lands within this city, while not having any real purpose to be present here."

Reclaim Palace Grounds Army lands and set up urban forests Bengaluru man starts petitionAerial view of Bangalore Palace and Palace Grounds; By Vinu Thomas, via Wikimedia Commons
news City Friday, April 14, 2017 - 13:12

A Bengaluru man has started an online petition asking the state government to reclaim Palace Grounds and Army lands in the city and create urban forest on the tracts. 

Sandeep Anirudhan, who according to his bio is a student of sustainability, writes that both the royal family of Mysuru and the British Army had been given land in Bengaluru, but they have now "outlived their relevance". 

"At present they are occupying these lands within this city, while not having any real purpose to be present here," he states in his petition. 

In the letter addressed to Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah and state Forest Minister B Ramnath Pai, he states that the land recovered should be handed over to the Karnataka Forestry Department for the "strict" purpose of converting them to urban forests and lakes. 

About the Palace Grounds, Sandeep writes that it belonged to the erstwhile Mysore Government. "With India having got its freedom from its previous princely rulers, the property ought to have passed on to the people of the country. There is no logical reason for the descendants of the previous hereditary rulers to be holding on to these lands."

He also accuses the royal family of damaging the land which used to be a rich and dense tropical forest. The land, he says, has now been reduced to a spot that is rented out for exhibitions, weddings and other functions. "What was entrusted to the family for safe-keeping, has been treated with utmost insensitivity and disrespect," he states.

Just like the royal family, the Indian Army too occupies huge tracts of land in Bengaluru, Sandeep writes. "Earlier Bangalore was a cantonment city. The British maintained armies in cantonments to subdue local populations! But now we are a free country. Is there any reason for army to be present in a city? 

He argues that unless the Army, Air Force and the Navy "have a real functional purpose to be present in the city", they should be given land in rural areas. "This would be a win-win, for the armed forces to have such huge facilities in a bustling metropolis is actually very inefficient and comes in their way!  They would also benefit by getting a new facility in exchange that could be exclusive to Army use!"

Within a day of starting it, Sandeep's petition has received over 160 signatures from people who want Bengaluru to get its green cover back not only for themselves but also for future generations. 

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