Bengaluru Police Commissioner B Dayanand on Saturday, December 30, directed that Phoenix Mall of Asia located in Hebbal be shut down temporarily citing inadequate parking facilities. The Commissioner invoked section 144(1) (power to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger) and 144(2) (ex-parte notice) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to restrict public access to the mall. The restrictions are effective from 10 am December 31 to midnight on January 15. According to him, the move would prevent annoyance and disturbance to public tranquillity.
Since its opening on October 27, the mall has been on the news for various reasons – causing major traffic congestion on Christmas Eve. The mall was the focus of ire by Karnataka Rakshana Vedike activists who specifically targeted it with acts of vandalism for not having signboards in Kannada. The mall was forced to shut down for a day.
The order cited reports from the Deputy Commissioner of Police, North East Division and Joint Commissioner of Police, Traffic Bengaluru received on December 27, 2023, on inconveniences faced by the public because of the mall. Another police report on December 30 warned about the situation likely to be caused by the mall on New Year's Eve.
Dayanand said a detailed examination and analysis of the police, media and intelligence reports undertaken by him and visits to the mall on December 27 and consultations with other senior police officials led to the conclusion that there is not enough parking space in the mall.
The report by the Joint Commissioner of Traffic said there is a “need to provide parking space for “at least 10,000 cars and 10,000 two wheelers.”
“The commercial complex is adjacent to the service road of Bellary Highway, which is the main connecting road to the Kempegowda International Airport. This highway also connects Byatarayanpura, Sahakar Nagar, Judicial Layout, Jakkur area, NTI Layout and other surrounding thickly populated areas of North Bengaluru to other parts of the city via Hebbal. Further, there are major hospitals and office spaces functioning alongside this highway. As a result, the highway acts as a lifeline to Northern areas of Bengaluru,” the Commissioner said in the order.
As per the partial occupancy certificate issued by BBMP, the mall is a 12-storeyed building (including 2 basement floors) with a total area of 86,421 square meters from the ground floor to third floor, the Commissioner pointed out. “But the mall has only 2 basements to park 2,324 cars and two-wheelers. As there is not enough space for parking in this mall, the vehicles of the public coming to the mall are waiting in queue at the entrance of the mall without being able to enter inside. Due to this, there is traffic congestion on the service road alongside the main road and this in turn leads to vehicular traffic getting halted for a long time on both sides of the highway's main carriageway,” the order said explaining the rationale behind the shutdown.
The Commissioner has also written to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike “requesting them to withdraw/cancel the partial occupancy certificate issued to Mall of Asia.”
Further, the notice says that “due to paucity of time and exigencies herein, there is no time to grant hearing to any affected persons and there exists no opportunity for any other course of action to be taken.”
However it is surprising that the police and the authorities have come up with such an order now, as if caught unaware about the size of the mall and its location days after it opened.