Cubbon Park, a sprawling 300-acre green haven, is a vital refuge for Bengalureans.
Hundreds gathered today at Bengaluru's iconic Cubbon Park to oppose the Karnataka government's plan to construct a 10-storey building as an annex to the High Court within the cherished green expanse of the public park.
The Katnataka government recently revived an earlier proposal to build an annex to the High Court in Cubbon Park, triggering widespread criticism. Activists and environmentlists have expressed strong opposition, highlighting concerns about the potential encroachment on park space and the subsequent increase in pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Cubbon Park, a sprawling 300-acre green haven, is a vital refuge for Bengalureans seeking respite from the bustling urban life. Home to the State Library housed in the historic Sheshadri Iyer Memorial Hall, the park boasts a rich tapestry of fountains, statues, flowering trees, and lush greenery, and is oftened referred to as the 'lungs of Bengaluru'.
The proposal, which had been on hold for the past five years due to sustained opposition from activists and environmentalists, now faces renewed public scrutiny.
"Cubbon Park is not just a park, but an emotion for many of us who have been born and brought up in Bengaluru. With the kind of stressful lives we lead, Cubbon Park is where people of the city come with their friends, children, relatives to spend some quality time," one of the acitivists told NDTV.
"It's not just about constructing a 10-storey building but also building a parking space for it, and the traffic that it will lead into the area. They are basically trying to kill this entire space. Bengaluru is a big city, why not move your project elsewhere?" she added.
The Cubbon Park Walkers' Association also expressed opposition to a recent government order issued by the Horticulture Department on February 8. The order permits the movement of vehicles inside Cubbon Park on the second and fourth Saturdays for a period of three months, further fueling concerns about the park's ecological integrity.
"When you compare Bengaluru with other metro cities, even with the kind of traffic that we have, our Air Quality Index (AQI) is better thanks to mini forests like Cubbon Park," said another activist. "Cubbon Park is considered to be the 'lungs of the city', so destroying it makes no sense."
Amidst the growing opposition, prominent voices, including Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the Executive Chairperson of Biocon Ltd, have spoken out against the proposal. In a post on X, she expressed concern about the impact on Bengaluru's identity as the 'Garden City,' urging the authorities to refrain from such "harebrained proposals."
"Why are we destroying our Garden City with such harebrained proposals! Cubbon Park must be untouched. No construction should be permitted," she posted on X.
BJP leader and MP from Bangalore Central, PC Mohan went as far as to term the move as "green genocide".
"The Congress government's proposal to erect a 10-storey annexe 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," Mr Mohan wrote on X.
Speaking to NDTV, Dr Shamla Iqbal, the Secretary of the Department of Horticulture, said, "This comes under the purview of the PWD. They have prepared the plan for the construction. We have suggested alternate sites to the government. They are looking into this. There is a high-level committee, the urban development, and the chief secretary... they all are looking into this. Right now alternate sites are being identified. We are hoping to find one."