A Protest Meeting on Saturday

Here’s a message written by my fellow-volunteer at Hasiru Usiru, Kanishka Lahiri:

The protests opposing the current plans of the Bangalore Metro in the southern reach have been well publicized in the mainstream media. As a result, they have elicited statements from politicians across party lines supporting the suggestion that the design and alignment of the metro be re-examined before further work is taken up. Interestingly, yesterday, the Chief Minister has made an adamant statement saying there cannot be any change to the current plan of the Metro. Why then, did his Transport Minister state otherwise in a pre-election statement? If we do not hold our leaders accountable to pre-election promises, no one will.

As a result of the CM’s blessing, the metro authorities are proceeding with impunity. Yesterday they felled trees in Lalbagh under police protection. It is interesting that the police are busy protecting an action that on various counts is blatantly illegal, and in contempt of the High Court’s direction. For example, at the present moment there is no documentary evidence that the portion of Lalbagh that has been “given away” is actually owned by the BMRCL. Separately, the High Court has also issued a stay on all activity within Reach 4 of the Metro (which includes the Lalbagh area), based on a pending case filed by property losers in the area.

While legal means, including a contempt of court filing, are underway to stop this violation, it is imperative that citizens come out and voice their opinion on the short-sighted planning of the Bangalore Metro. Why should portions of the 250-year old Botanical Garden, as well as what is considered by many as urban India’s finest tree-lined avenue (Nanda Road) make way for an concrete, overground monstrosity, gigantic overground stations, parking lots, shopping malls, and bus stations? Are there no alternatives? It turns out there are. The metro can go underground. The metro could go along K.R. Road. The metro could go along Jayanagar 11th main. Have these alternatives been explored in all sincerity? Nothing in the Metro Detailed Project Report suggests so.

Hence, this is an appeal to all citizens to come and participate in a peaceful protest on Saturday May 9, at 8 am. We will assemble at 32nd Cross & Nanda Road (4th Main), Jayanagar. Please visit http://www.hasiruusiru.org for details. Please note, Saturday’s event is of special significance because officials of the BMRCL, including its Managing Director, will be available on-site. So this is a great opportunity to voice your opinion. Bring friends, bring family, bring colorful posters.

See you there.

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