Save Peoples Park in Mysore City

http://www.petitiononline.com/greenmys/ 
Created on: January 15, 2009 Last Update: Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Shifting of city bus-stand hanging fire The Hindu, Wed, Jan 21, 2009
Proposal on relocating it to People's Park has stirred up a controversy
Nothing except watchman's quarters can come up on what is designated as park or open space
Several attempts have been made in the past to relocate the bus-stand -
PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
In focus: Even as a final decision on the issue of shifting the Mysore city bus-stand is pending, work on reconstructing it is on. - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Facelift for People's Park-Mysore-Cities-The Times of India Jan 18, '09
Move to shift Mysore city bus stand may trigger controversy
MCC and KSRTC want to shift the bus stand to People's Park
The Hindu, Friday, Jan 16, 2009 - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Modernisation: Work in progress at the Mysore city bus stand. - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM The Hindu, Fri Jan 18, 2009
Pvt bus operators to be evicted from People's Park Times of India, October 30, 2001 TNN Times News Network
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1566835134.cms
Agitation to save People's Park The Hindu Thursday, July 21, 2005
http://www.hindu.com/2005/07/21/stories/2005072111810300.htm
Pvt bus operators threaten stir in Mysore Times of India, Feb 11, 2002
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/696275.cms 

Facelift for People's Park-Mysore-Cities-The Times of India Jan 18 2009

The open space called the People's Park that was meant for people with over a century to its credit, is being considered to be utilized for public use again in the landlocked Mysore city centre.

Spread over 20 acres in the heart of the Mysore city, the People's Park has been a hot property for years now. Authorities are contemplating to use it as a location for the city  bus stand, a proposal which has brought the prime property back into circulation.

What was lying unattended and degraded for years and is back in focus. Decades back it served as a recreation ground for people of the eastern and northern parts of the town. The People's Park is believed to have been established during the early reign of Mysore Maharaja / King Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar.

Like the once-legendary next to Hardinge Circle, this one offered a space for recreation for people back when avenues for indulgence were little.

The gazebo facing the 200-year-old Government House served as a platform to host cultural events like the ornate bandstand at the Nishad Bagh / Nishaad Baagh (Kuppanna Park). Cut to the present: Both the open spaces are now ruined and it is in tatters, shunned by the public.

Spread over 20 acres the People's Park could have attracted visitors living up to its status of a tourist hub. But thanks to the apathy of the officials, the open space has degraded.

Even the gazebo and Radha-Krishna fountain planted in front of it are out of shape. In the post-Tipu Sultan (Mysore King called as The Tiger of Mysore) era, the site was preserved and developed as an open space.

It was located next to the Government House, which was formerly the Residency, official address of the British administrator in Mysore (pre-independence period of pre-independent India).

As per the record available with the civic body, it is the property of the MCC (Mysore City Corporation) since 1950. Another symbol of its age is a water hole that is surviving on rainwater harvesting adopted decades ago.

Sometime back the MCC (Mysore City Corporation) sought to reinvent the open space with assistance from JN-NURM or JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission) and mayor Ayub Khan included this park among the list of open spaces in the city to be renovated using Central funds.

Under JN-NURM or JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission) 80% of the grants are given by the centre / center or Government of India or GOI and 10% by the State Government (Karnataka). The rest of the money has to be contributed by the city (Mysore) residents / citizens / property tax payers.

Now, with its proposal to swap the city bus stand abutting the Mysore Palace and the open space, the People's Park is back in limelight. Earlier, the MCC had planned to develop it as a hi-tech park preserving its heritage status.

The gazebo was sought to be renovated without alteration and the fountain was to be retained. A musical fountain and rose garden were planned here, but it all hangs in balance now.

The site was in news for all the wrong reasons sometime back. It hit the headlines when the administrators proposed to build the city central library here inviting the ire of the environmentalists. Citing the apex court order, the proposal was turned down saying the open space cannot be used for other purposes.

Shifting of city bus-stand hanging fire The Hindu, Wed, Jan 21, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/01/21/stories/2009012159250300.htm 
Proposal on relocating it to People's Park has stirred up a controversy
Nothing except watchman's quarters can come up on what is designated as park or open space
Several attempts have been made in the past to relocate the bus-stand - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
In focus: Even as a final decision on the issue of shifting the Mysore city bus-stand is pending, work on reconstructing it is on. - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM The Hindu, Wednesday, Jan 21, 2009
In focus:
Even as a final decision on the issue of shifting the Mysore city bus-stand is pending, work on reconstructing it is on.

Move to shift Mysore city bus stand may trigger controversy
MCC and KSRTC want to shift the bus stand to People's Park
The Hindu, Friday, Jan 16, 2009 - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Modernisation: Work in progress at the Mysore city bus stand. - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM The Hindu Friday, Jan 16, 2009
Modernisation:
Work in progress at the Mysore city bus stand.
http://www.hindu.com/2009/01/16/stories/2009011652740300.htm 

The proposed move to shift the city  bus stand to People's Park is bound to trigger a controversy. This issue of shifting the city  bus-stand has been hanging fire for the last few years.

At a meeting that was here in Mysore City on Thursday, January 15, 2008 to discuss / review the work in progress under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) projects, the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) and the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) put forward a suggestion to shift the city  bus stand to People's Park.

It was learnt that the Office of the Heritage Commissioner had sought relocation of the existing bus stand abutting the Mysore palace, and hence, the MCC and KSRTC zeroed in on the People's Park.

The Mysore City Corporation (MCC) and the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) have mooted the idea as they've / they'd been informed by the heritage authorities to shift the bus-stand.

The authorities have invariably zeroed in on either the J.K. Grounds, adjoining the Mysore Medical College and the City Railway Station, or the People's Park as an "ideal place".

While nobody is blaming the heritage authorities for seeking the shifting of the bus-stand as it abuts the historic monument and is incongruous in its existing setting, the proposal to relocate it to the People's Park has stirred up a hornet's nest.

The reasons cited for shifting the bus-stand are that it is choking the city centre where traffic density is the high and it is causing a high degree of pollution, among others. The reason to shift the bus stand is to protect the ambience surrounding the palace as it was perceived that there is no palace in the world which has a bus stand adjoining it.

Hence it is/was perceived that relocating the bus-stand may address these issues and also obviate the need for all buses to enter K.R. Circle and surrounding areas. The other reason cited was to preserve the heritage aspect of the palace by converting the bus-stand area into a park.

However, Deputy Commissioner P. Manivannan, who is also the nodal officer in-charge of JNNURM projects in Mysore, said that he could not give the go ahead for the proposal without seeking public opinion and the public may send their opinion to the office of the MCC (Mysore City Corporation) till Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

Though Deputy Commissioner P. Manivannan has called for public opinion, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have pointed out that this is not an issue that can be put to vote and decided by a majority voice as the law is clear that nothing except the watchman's quarters can come up on what has been designated as a park or open space.

In view of the new development, the works under way at the city bus stand, adjoining the palace will go slow.

But funds have been spent on the reconstruction of the city  bus stand. However, what is bound to be controversial is the decision to explore the option of shifting the city  bus stand near the People's Park and occupy a portion of it.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have aired their apprehensions and opposition to it and the Association of Concerned and Informed Citizens of Mysore (ACICM) has opposed the move.

People's Park has always courted controversy as the authorities have constantly tried to utilise a portion of it for constructing "public utility". It ran into a major controversy in the 1990s when there was a hue and cry over a proposal to construct a public library. An agitation put paid to the local authority's move.

In subsequent years, there were attempts to convert the People's Park into a private bus stand. While in recent months, the Mysore City Corporation's or MCC's decision to use a portion of the People's Park for a "Food Court" evoked widespread protests by students and NGOs.

Two years ago, there was an attempt to use People's Park as a taxi-stand following eviction of taxis from the Makkaji Chowk area for constructing a commercial complex. Local politicians who were then in the Opposition had launched an agitation against it.

NGOs point out that any construction, other than a watchman's quarters, will be in violation of Rule 6 of the Karnataka Parks, Playfields and Open Spaces (Preservation and Regulation) Rules, 1985.

In addition, Section 39 of the Karnataka Urban Development Authorities Act, 1987, prohibits conversion of any portion of parkland for other uses. So, constructing a bus stand on People's Park will be in violation of law, according to them.

But the authorities unfortunately seemed to be eyeing either People's Park or J.K. Grounds. Converting parks or open/lung spaces into any other purpose also amounts to violation of the law(s).

Shifting the bus-stand to either the J.K. Grounds or the People's Park is not reckoned to be ideal as it will at best shift the traffic density and pollution from one part of the city to another. Besides, it is in violation of the law and will encroach upon open spaces which are shrinking.

Earlier, there was an attempt to shift the private bus-stand to the J.K. Grounds. The move was resisted by NGOs which pointed out that it would amount to violation of the Karnataka Parks, Play-fields and Open Spaces (Preservation and Regulation) Act, 1985.

In addition, Section 39 of the Karnataka Urban Development Authorities Act, 1987 restricts conversion of any park or a portion of it for other purposes.

Even as a final decision on the issue is pending, the work on reconstructing the bus-stand is on. This is not the first time that an attempt to shift the bus-stand has been made.

Multi-level parking proposal may spark row The Hindu Sunday, April 01, 2007
http://www.hindu.com/2007/04/01/stories/2007040114620500.htm 

Numerous efforts to convert a portion of the Peoples' Park into a private bus stand or encroach upon it and construct a public library had run into rough weather.

NGOs like the MGP or Mysore Grahakara Parishat (Mysore Consumers' Forum) pointed out that Section 39 of the Karnataka Urban Development Act, 1987, prohibited conversion of any portion of park land for other uses while there are innumerable court directives that prohibit conversion of parks into any other use.

Park politics | India Environment Portal 1997
http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/node/7277 

The city of Mysore in Karnataka, India has become the scene for an interesting battle royal.

In contention is the People's park in the heart of the city, fought over by the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) or Mysore Consumers' Forum, a local non-governmental organisation or NGO initiated by a few residents of Mysore, and the Municipal Corporation (Mysore City Corporation or MCC).

The Mysore City Corporation or MCC had decided to build a public library inside the People's Park by felling 124 trees. As the Karnataka Parks Act, 1985, does not allow construction of any building inside a park, the MGP filed a public interest litigation or PIL in the Karnataka High Court in 1995.

In 1990, the Mysore City Corporation or MCC had leased a part of the People's Park to a private developer, Revathi Enterprises, for 30 years for setting up a commercial complex. In return, he was to build a library free of cost.

When the MGP found out that the developer had acquired this property worth more than Rs 11 crore for less than Rs 80 lakh, it organised a people's court in November 1995 to expose the politicians, bureaucrats and other officials who had obviously been bribed by the developer.

The MGP had obtained a stay order against the felling of trees in the People's Park. But the private developer was able to get the stay lifted.

Unfortunately, the company also slapped a contempt case against the Parishat's activists for exposing the sordid deal through local newspapers. The contempt case dragged on for almost a year. Finally, the MGP had to unfortunately give an assurance that it'll/it'd not indulge in any activity that would be detrimental to the developer's interests.

This unfortunately ensured that the MGP is/was unable to agitate openly or issue press statements for the fear of committing contempt of court. The original case against the Mysore City Corporation is still in the Karnataka High Court. Meanwhile, more than 100 trees were felled in the park, soon after the High Court had lifted the stay.

Conversion of any park into a bus stand or commercial complex is in violation of the Government Order and the law of the land, which prohibits construction in parks and gardens.

There were attempts to construct a library in the People's park previously. Subsequently, the Private Bus Owners' Association mooted the construction of a private bus stand there.

Source:
Saving Mysore's Park - myMYSORE ISSUES & IDEAS 

If we allow any building / commercial complex / bus stand to come up in the People's Park, soon the People's Park will disappear and we will have only buildings / commercial complex / bus stand.

With that in mind, the law was adapted / adopted called Karnataka Open spaces and Park conservation act. At least so far as we've that law by allowing any building to come in the park, we'll/we'd be violating the law.

Now as for the public library in People's Park, it was just a ploy to get land in/inside the People's Park to construct hotels and other things. Thus by promising to construct a public library costing about Rs. 30 lakhs, the leaseholders (incidentally all politically connected people) were to get the license to build hotels.

No one would like to destroy heritage park along with full-grown trees, which are very old. This is one of the strategies politicians use to grab the land and monetize it. What a shame! It was only because of the interest shown by a forest officer who had great affection for trees, the MGP came to know about this shenanigan and could stop it so far.

However, there is still a rumour that the original leaseholder may still win the court case and may be allowed to build hotel in/inside the People's Park.

There are two aspects of the problem. One is the violation of Karnataka Parks and Open Spaces Act. Another is the corruption issue. We object to construction / building of the library even if it is/was done by the government itself and there was no corruption involved.

There are many places where one can construct a library and we should try to maintain parks, which serve as lung spaces in an urban environment. Unfortunately today we may not fully appreciate the value of such lung spaces. However, as population increases in Mysore City, we will certainly appreciate such parks and realise their worth.

In the case of People's Park case, there is also the issue of corruption. Politicians belonging to all parties were able to get bribes for their approval to lease the land to a private group.

The then value of the land was more than four crores and in return the corporation was getting a library worth about Rs. 35 lakhs. The corruption issue came to surface only after MGP filed the PIL in the Karnataka High Court.

We can't let politicians decide what is good for us. If we give them an inch, they will swallow a foot (or a lot more!). We need greenery and lung space. We must not even encourage tree felling indiscriminately (read the post on impression page on a topic called Global warming ? Not in Mysore.

Parks must not be allowed to have any building or commercial complex or bus stand and must be protected to provide maximum greenery.

It is only when these parks (God forbid) disappear and with that the lungs of our city, then we'd perhaps appreciate / realise their importance. But then it'd be unfortunately too late.

Star of Mysore - Voice of the Reader - Sunday, January 18, 2008

Sir,

The proposal to convert the city bus stand into a park is shocking. More shocking is the reason given by the bureaucrats to justify their proposal closeness of bus stand to the Palace.

People's Park is in existence for decades and to replicate a similar Park in the city bus stand will be a Herculean task, apart from wasting JNNURM funds for unproductive causes.

I fail to comprehend how the authorities could slow down the ongoing construction work of city bus stand claiming that a proposal to convert the bus stand into a Park is under consideration. - K. Chandrahas, Vontikoppal, Mysore Jan 15, 2009

Sir,

It was proposed in the recent JNNURM meeting that the existing bus stand be developed as park and this would protect the Palace from pollution. Before this, think of saving the existing parks around the Mysore Palace.

The beauty of parks on all the four corners of Gandhi Vana Circle near Police Commissioner's office was spoiled when the Police Parade Ground compound wall was constructed at one of the corners by spoiling the once famous Band Bungalow Park.

During 2008 Dasara, the total fencing of Nishad Bagh was removed and vehicles, even bullock carts, were allowed to be parked in this once beautiful park. Nobody seems to take care of the trees, plants, pathways etc., in this park.

Next is the Kuppanna Park which is totally ignored for years. The other Park is Gandhi Vana which houses the beautiful Traffic Island for children, a contribution of the then famous Ideal Jawa Group. The Mysore Palace will be protected from pollution if these Parks are revived and maintained properly.

It is better if they visit these places before taking such decisions and also take necessary action to save these parks instead of developing new ones at the cost of public money. - Jagadish on e-mail, Mysore, Jan 15, 2009

Solutions

NGOs such as the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) or Mysore Consumers' Forum and the Association of Concerned and Informed Citizens of Mysore (ACICM) have different solutions to the issue.

The ACICM has suggested that the bus-stand be shifted to Bannimantap where the KSRTC is reckoned to have 46 acres of land as it believes that it'd not only be convenient, but also ease traffic congestion around K.R. Circle.

The ACICM said that city buses could operate from different locations to Bannimantap terminus and there could be regular services to K.R. Circle, the main commercial area of the city.

Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Sudhir Vombatkere, president of the MGP, pointed out that the city bus-stand could be relocated to moffusil bus-stand and the latter could be shifted to the outer ring road to decongest the arterial roads of the city.

Alternatively, there could be four moffusil terminals on the outer ring road in different directions with regular services to the city, he said.

The Citizens Advisory Group, constituted by Mr. Manivannan when he was the MCC Commissioner, of which Maj. Gen. (Retd) Vombatkere was a member, has suggested that the Mysore Central Jail be relocated to a new place and a bus-stand be constructed on the jail premises.

While the authorities are debating the issue, NGOs and a cross section of society have stated that they will not allow either the People's Park or the J.K. Grounds to be "disturbed". It is now for the authorities to look for alternative solutions.

In 1976 the National Commission on Agriculture has recommended the development of Recreation Forests and Parks in urban areas "(a)s every one cannot go to distant National Parks or forests, it should be possible for the State to bring part of nature closer to the city dwellers".

The Hon'ble Supreme Court has incorporated the Principle of Intergenerational Equity into the India legal jurisprudence in the case of A. P. Pollution Control Board vs. Prof. M. V. Nayudu and Ors., reported in 1999 (2) SCC 718, where it has been held as hereunder:

"The principle of inter-generational equity is of recent origin. The 1972 Stockholm Declaration refers to it in principles 1 and 2. In this context, the environment is viewed more as a resource basis for the survival of the present and future generations.

Principle 1- Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for the present and future generations.

Principle 2- The natural resources of the earth, including the air, water, lands, flora and fauna and especially representative samples of natural ecosystems, must be safeguarded for the benefit of the present and future generations through careful planning or management, as appropriate."

34. Several international conventions and treaties have recognized the above principles and, in fact, several imaginative proposals have been submitted including the locus standi of individuals or groups to take out actions as representatives of future generations, or appointing an ombudsman to take care of the rights of the future against the present (proposals of Sands and Brown Weiss referred to by Dr. Sreenivas Rao Permmaraju, Special Rapporteur, paras 97 and 98 of his report).

35. The principles mentioned above wholly apply for adjudicating matters concerning environment and ecology. These principles must, therefore, be applied in full force for protecting the natural resources of this country."

In this regard, it is also important to highlight that the State is also bound by the mandate of Article 51 (A) (g) which casts the duty to:

"protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, ...."

Incidentally the Hon'ble Karnataka High Court in the decision in WP No. 17823/1999, Suresh Heblikar and ors. vs. State of Karnataka and ors., has observed at para 3 of its order as follows:

"Article 51 A of the Constitution envisages that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment."

The above observation of the Division Bench of the Hon'ble Karnataka High Court clearly lays down the guiding principle that needs to be interred by the State while dealing with community properties like parks and/or open spaces.

In a similar circumstance dealing with Public Trust Doctrine, the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka, in the case of Masay and Others vs Bangalore City Corporation and Ors. reported in 2003 AIR (Kar) 468 and 2003 (4) KarLJ 168, had the occasion to consider whether lease of Park or Open Space vested in the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) to a private Club with certain exclusive use was valid.

The Court while invoking the Principle of Public Trust Doctrine held that by virtue of Section 174 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, the Park and Open Spaces were vested with the BCC which however cast an obligation to maintain the same by preserving the basic features of a Park and any action which would result in damaging the essential features would be in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine. The relevant observations are cited for reference herein below:

"13. In our considered opinion. Section 174 of the Corporation Act clearly mandates that the Corporation has to manage and control the parks, play grounds and open spaces reserved for ventilation for the use those are earmarked and it has no authority to alienate or transfer such lands even by way of lease to create private interest. The Corporation is duty bound to maintain the public character of such lands and any effort to deviate from this statutory obligation would amount to breach of public trust which on having so found has to be corrected by the Courts."

The further observations of the Hon'ble Karnataka High Court make it clear that Open Spaces such as Parks and Tanks / Lakes are community property and public access to such properties cannot be restricted in any manner. The relevant extract from the aforementioned judgement is reproduced below:

"16) Anyhow, since the respondent club had been managing the land since 1932 without changing the land use and maintaining it as a playground it is more appropriate to treat the club having been conferred with the only power of management and maintenance of playground and open space. This will be in conformity with Section 174 of Corporations Act and will also advance public interest for maintaining the land as playground and open space. Accordingly, we hold that the State Government had no authority in law to permit the respondent-Club to put up any construction on the land which will change the nature of the land use and converting the land for exclusive use of the members of the respondent-Club only. The Commissioner of the Corporation had also acted in derogation of the statutory obligations in abiding the directions of the State Government. Therefore, the impugned orders at Annexure-A as well as sanction of the plan at Annexure-B are ex facie contrary to the legislative mandate and therefore unsustainable in law.

17. As regard question No. 3, keeping in view our findings as above, for the facts of the present case we do not propose to examine this question because irrespective of the provisions contained in the Planning Act since there is absolute bar on the part of the Corporation to change the use of the play ground and open spaces reserved for ventilation this by itself is enough to annul the actions of the State Government and the Corporation.

18. Accordingly, we quash the Government Order bearing No. VNE 190 MNY 90 dated 2-9-1993 (Annexure A) being ultra vires the powers of the State Government. Consequently, the sanction accorded by the Corporation to the plan for putting up construction on the land in question (Annexure-B) is also nullified. Respondents are directed to restore the land in question as a play ground and open space with unrestricted right of use and entry of the public. Any how, the compound walls and fences erected around the land in question will vest in the Corporation as it will be necessary for proper control and protection of the land from encroachments."

The same principle in similar circumstances while dealing with lease of parks vested in the Bangalore City Corporation has been applied to set aside such a lease deed executed by the said Corporation in favour of a private club by the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka, in the case of Masay and Others vs Bangalore City Corporation and Ors. reported in 2003 AIR (Kar) 468 and 2003 (4) KarLJ 168.

The leasing or handing over of parklands / park areas / parks and/or open spaces is also illegal in so far as it is violation of the mandate contained in the Karnataka Government Parks (Preservation) Act, 1975 in so far as Section 4 casts a duty on the MCC and/or the state government to preserve and maintain the Parks and to take steps to ensure the utility of Parks as gardens. Section 4 (2) further prohibits any alienation even by way of lease which will be deemed to be null and void.

The Karnataka Government Parks (Preservation) Act 1975 has to be read in conjunction with the Karnataka Parks, Playfields and Open Space (Preservation and Regulation) Act, 1985.

According to Section 8 of the latter Act there is a mandate to prevent putting up of any "structure likely to affect the utility of the park, playfield or open space or make any encroachment in or over any park, play-field or open space specified in the list published under Section 4 or Section 5."

The action of the MCC and/or the state government in leasing out parks and/or open spaces and authorising by virtue of such lease the right to construct infrastructure which would affect the utility of the parks and/or open spaces is illegal and liable to be struck down. Section 8 (2) of the said Act also casts a burden similar to the restriction contained in Section 4 of the Karnataka Government Parks (Preservation) Act 1975.

The essential sovereign functions of the State cannot be delegated or outsourced.

This is well laid out in the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Municipal Council, Ratlam vs. Shri Vardhichand and Ors., reported in 1980 AIR(SC) 1622, where it held that:

"A responsible municipal council constituted for the precise purpose of preserving public health and providing better finances cannot run away from its principal duty by pleading financial inability."

It is a settled principle that if the zoning regulations specify certain areas as lakes, or parks, or open spaces, there cannot be any diversion of the said areas for any purpose inconsistent with the traditional and planned usage attached to such properties.

http://www.petitiononline.com/greenmys/ 
Created on: January 15, 2009 Last Update: Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Shifting of city bus-stand hanging fire The Hindu, Wed, Jan 21, 2009
Proposal on relocating it to People's Park has stirred up a controversy
Nothing except watchman's quarters can come up on what is designated as park or open space
Several attempts have been made in the past to relocate the bus-stand -
PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
In focus: Even as a final decision on the issue of shifting the Mysore city bus-stand is pending, work on reconstructing it is on. - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Facelift for People's Park-Mysore-Cities-The Times of India Jan 18, '09
Move to shift Mysore city bus stand may trigger controversy
MCC and KSRTC want to shift the bus stand to People's Park
The Hindu, Friday, Jan 16, 2009 - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Modernisation: Work in progress at the Mysore city bus stand. - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM The Hindu, Fri Jan 18, 2009
Pvt bus operators to be evicted from People's Park Times of India, October 30, 2001 TNN Times News Network
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1566835134.cms
Agitation to save People's Park The Hindu Thursday, July 21, 2005
http://www.hindu.com/2005/07/21/stories/2005072111810300.htm
Pvt bus operators threaten stir in Mysore Times of India, Feb 11, 2002
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/696275.cms 

Facelift for People's Park-Mysore-Cities-The Times of India Jan 18 2009

The open space called the People's Park that was meant for people with over a century to its credit, is being considered to be utilized for public use again in the landlocked Mysore city centre.

Spread over 20 acres in the heart of the Mysore city, the People's Park has been a hot property for years now. Authorities are contemplating to use it as a location for the city  bus stand, a proposal which has brought the prime property back into circulation.

What was lying unattended and degraded for years and is back in focus. Decades back it served as a recreation ground for people of the eastern and northern parts of the town. The People's Park is believed to have been established during the early reign of Mysore Maharaja / King Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar.

Like the once-legendary next to Hardinge Circle, this one offered a space for recreation for people back when avenues for indulgence were little.

The gazebo facing the 200-year-old Government House served as a platform to host cultural events like the ornate bandstand at the Nishad Bagh / Nishaad Baagh (Kuppanna Park). Cut to the present: Both the open spaces are now ruined and it is in tatters, shunned by the public.

Spread over 20 acres the People's Park could have attracted visitors living up to its status of a tourist hub. But thanks to the apathy of the officials, the open space has degraded.

Even the gazebo and Radha-Krishna fountain planted in front of it are out of shape. In the post-Tipu Sultan (Mysore King called as The Tiger of Mysore) era, the site was preserved and developed as an open space.

It was located next to the Government House, which was formerly the Residency, official address of the British administrator in Mysore (pre-independence period of pre-independent India).

As per the record available with the civic body, it is the property of the MCC (Mysore City Corporation) since 1950. Another symbol of its age is a water hole that is surviving on rainwater harvesting adopted decades ago.

Sometime back the MCC (Mysore City Corporation) sought to reinvent the open space with assistance from JN-NURM or JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission) and mayor Ayub Khan included this park among the list of open spaces in the city to be renovated using Central funds.

Under JN-NURM or JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission) 80% of the grants are given by the centre / center or Government of India or GOI and 10% by the State Government (Karnataka). The rest of the money has to be contributed by the city (Mysore) residents / citizens / property tax payers.

Now, with its proposal to swap the city bus stand abutting the Mysore Palace and the open space, the People's Park is back in limelight. Earlier, the MCC had planned to develop it as a hi-tech park preserving its heritage status.

The gazebo was sought to be renovated without alteration and the fountain was to be retained. A musical fountain and rose garden were planned here, but it all hangs in balance now.

The site was in news for all the wrong reasons sometime back. It hit the headlines when the administrators proposed to build the city central library here inviting the ire of the environmentalists. Citing the apex court order, the proposal was turned down saying the open space cannot be used for other purposes.

Shifting of city bus-stand hanging fire The Hindu, Wed, Jan 21, 2009
http://www.hindu.com/2009/01/21/stories/2009012159250300.htm 
Proposal on relocating it to People's Park has stirred up a controversy
Nothing except watchman's quarters can come up on what is designated as park or open space
Several attempts have been made in the past to relocate the bus-stand - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
In focus: Even as a final decision on the issue of shifting the Mysore city bus-stand is pending, work on reconstructing it is on. - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM The Hindu, Wednesday, Jan 21, 2009
In focus:
Even as a final decision on the issue of shifting the Mysore city bus-stand is pending, work on reconstructing it is on.

Move to shift Mysore city bus stand may trigger controversy
MCC and KSRTC want to shift the bus stand to People's Park
The Hindu, Friday, Jan 16, 2009 - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Modernisation: Work in progress at the Mysore city bus stand. - PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM The Hindu Friday, Jan 16, 2009
Modernisation:
Work in progress at the Mysore city bus stand.
http://www.hindu.com/2009/01/16/stories/2009011652740300.htm 

The proposed move to shift the city  bus stand to People's Park is bound to trigger a controversy. This issue of shifting the city  bus-stand has been hanging fire for the last few years.

At a meeting that was here in Mysore City on Thursday, January 15, 2008 to discuss / review the work in progress under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) projects, the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) and the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) put forward a suggestion to shift the city  bus stand to People's Park.

It was learnt that the Office of the Heritage Commissioner had sought relocation of the existing bus stand abutting the Mysore palace, and hence, the MCC and KSRTC zeroed in on the People's Park.

The Mysore City Corporation (MCC) and the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) have mooted the idea as they've / they'd been informed by the heritage authorities to shift the bus-stand.

The authorities have invariably zeroed in on either the J.K. Grounds, adjoining the Mysore Medical College and the City Railway Station, or the People's Park as an "ideal place".

While nobody is blaming the heritage authorities for seeking the shifting of the bus-stand as it abuts the historic monument and is incongruous in its existing setting, the proposal to relocate it to the People's Park has stirred up a hornet's nest.

The reasons cited for shifting the bus-stand are that it is choking the city centre where traffic density is the high and it is causing a high degree of pollution, among others. The reason to shift the bus stand is to protect the ambience surrounding the palace as it was perceived that there is no palace in the world which has a bus stand adjoining it.

Hence it is/was perceived that relocating the bus-stand may address these issues and also obviate the need for all buses to enter K.R. Circle and surrounding areas. The other reason cited was to preserve the heritage aspect of the palace by converting the bus-stand area into a park.

However, Deputy Commissioner P. Manivannan, who is also the nodal officer in-charge of JNNURM projects in Mysore, said that he could not give the go ahead for the proposal without seeking public opinion and the public may send their opinion to the office of the MCC (Mysore City Corporation) till Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

Though Deputy Commissioner P. Manivannan has called for public opinion, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have pointed out that this is not an issue that can be put to vote and decided by a majority voice as the law is clear that nothing except the watchman's quarters can come up on what has been designated as a park or open space.

In view of the new development, the works under way at the city bus stand, adjoining the palace will go slow.

But funds have been spent on the reconstruction of the city  bus stand. However, what is bound to be controversial is the decision to explore the option of shifting the city  bus stand near the People's Park and occupy a portion of it.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have aired their apprehensions and opposition to it and the Association of Concerned and Informed Citizens of Mysore (ACICM) has opposed the move.

People's Park has always courted controversy as the authorities have constantly tried to utilise a portion of it for constructing "public utility". It ran into a major controversy in the 1990s when there was a hue and cry over a proposal to construct a public library. An agitation put paid to the local authority's move.

In subsequent years, there were attempts to convert the People's Park into a private bus stand. While in recent months, the Mysore City Corporation's or MCC's decision to use a portion of the People's Park for a "Food Court" evoked widespread protests by students and NGOs.

Two years ago, there was an attempt to use People's Park as a taxi-stand following eviction of taxis from the Makkaji Chowk area for constructing a commercial complex. Local politicians who were then in the Opposition had launched an agitation against it.

NGOs point out that any construction, other than a watchman's quarters, will be in violation of Rule 6 of the Karnataka Parks, Playfields and Open Spaces (Preservation and Regulation) Rules, 1985.

In addition, Section 39 of the Karnataka Urban Development Authorities Act, 1987, prohibits conversion of any portion of parkland for other uses. So, constructing a bus stand on People's Park will be in violation of law, according to them.

But the authorities unfortunately seemed to be eyeing either People's Park or J.K. Grounds. Converting parks or open/lung spaces into any other purpose also amounts to violation of the law(s).

Shifting the bus-stand to either the J.K. Grounds or the People's Park is not reckoned to be ideal as it will at best shift the traffic density and pollution from one part of the city to another. Besides, it is in violation of the law and will encroach upon open spaces which are shrinking.

Earlier, there was an attempt to shift the private bus-stand to the J.K. Grounds. The move was resisted by NGOs which pointed out that it would amount to violation of the Karnataka Parks, Play-fields and Open Spaces (Preservation and Regulation) Act, 1985.

In addition, Section 39 of the Karnataka Urban Development Authorities Act, 1987 restricts conversion of any park or a portion of it for other purposes.

Even as a final decision on the issue is pending, the work on reconstructing the bus-stand is on. This is not the first time that an attempt to shift the bus-stand has been made.

Multi-level parking proposal may spark row The Hindu Sunday, April 01, 2007
http://www.hindu.com/2007/04/01/stories/2007040114620500.htm 

Numerous efforts to convert a portion of the Peoples' Park into a private bus stand or encroach upon it and construct a public library had run into rough weather.

NGOs like the MGP or Mysore Grahakara Parishat (Mysore Consumers' Forum) pointed out that Section 39 of the Karnataka Urban Development Act, 1987, prohibited conversion of any portion of park land for other uses while there are innumerable court directives that prohibit conversion of parks into any other use.

Park politics | India Environment Portal 1997
http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/node/7277 

The city of Mysore in Karnataka, India has become the scene for an interesting battle royal.

In contention is the People's park in the heart of the city, fought over by the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) or Mysore Consumers' Forum, a local non-governmental organisation or NGO initiated by a few residents of Mysore, and the Municipal Corporation (Mysore City Corporation or MCC).

The Mysore City Corporation or MCC had decided to build a public library inside the People's Park by felling 124 trees. As the Karnataka Parks Act, 1985, does not allow construction of any building inside a park, the MGP filed a public interest litigation or PIL in the Karnataka High Court in 1995.

In 1990, the Mysore City Corporation or MCC had leased a part of the People's Park to a private developer, Revathi Enterprises, for 30 years for setting up a commercial complex. In return, he was to build a library free of cost.

When the MGP found out that the developer had acquired this property worth more than Rs 11 crore for less than Rs 80 lakh, it organised a people's court in November 1995 to expose the politicians, bureaucrats and other officials who had obviously been bribed by the developer.

The MGP had obtained a stay order against the felling of trees in the People's Park. But the private developer was able to get the stay lifted.

Unfortunately, the company also slapped a contempt case against the Parishat's activists for exposing the sordid deal through local newspapers. The contempt case dragged on for almost a year. Finally, the MGP had to unfortunately give an assurance that it'll/it'd not indulge in any activity that would be detrimental to the developer's interests.

This unfortunately ensured that the MGP is/was unable to agitate openly or issue press statements for the fear of committing contempt of court. The original case against the Mysore City Corporation is still in the Karnataka High Court. Meanwhile, more than 100 trees were felled in the park, soon after the High Court had lifted the stay.

Conversion of any park into a bus stand or commercial complex is in violation of the Government Order and the law of the land, which prohibits construction in parks and gardens.

There were attempts to construct a library in the People's park previously. Subsequently, the Private Bus Owners' Association mooted the construction of a private bus stand there.

Source:
Saving Mysore's Park - myMYSORE ISSUES & IDEAS 

If we allow any building / commercial complex / bus stand to come up in the People's Park, soon the People's Park will disappear and we will have only buildings / commercial complex / bus stand.

With that in mind, the law was adapted / adopted called Karnataka Open spaces and Park conservation act. At least so far as we've that law by allowing any building to come in the park, we'll/we'd be violating the law.

Now as for the public library in People's Park, it was just a ploy to get land in/inside the People's Park to construct hotels and other things. Thus by promising to construct a public library costing about Rs. 30 lakhs, the leaseholders (incidentally all politically connected people) were to get the license to build hotels.

No one would like to destroy heritage park along with full-grown trees, which are very old. This is one of the strategies politicians use to grab the land and monetize it. What a shame! It was only because of the interest shown by a forest officer who had great affection for trees, the MGP came to know about this shenanigan and could stop it so far.

However, there is still a rumour that the original leaseholder may still win the court case and may be allowed to build hotel in/inside the People's Park.

There are two aspects of the problem. One is the violation of Karnataka Parks and Open Spaces Act. Another is the corruption issue. We object to construction / building of the library even if it is/was done by the government itself and there was no corruption involved.

There are many places where one can construct a library and we should try to maintain parks, which serve as lung spaces in an urban environment. Unfortunately today we may not fully appreciate the value of such lung spaces. However, as population increases in Mysore City, we will certainly appreciate such parks and realise their worth.

In the case of People's Park case, there is also the issue of corruption. Politicians belonging to all parties were able to get bribes for their approval to lease the land to a private group.

The then value of the land was more than four crores and in return the corporation was getting a library worth about Rs. 35 lakhs. The corruption issue came to surface only after MGP filed the PIL in the Karnataka High Court.

We can't let politicians decide what is good for us. If we give them an inch, they will swallow a foot (or a lot more!). We need greenery and lung space. We must not even encourage tree felling indiscriminately (read the post on impression page on a topic called Global warming ? Not in Mysore.

Parks must not be allowed to have any building or commercial complex or bus stand and must be protected to provide maximum greenery.

It is only when these parks (God forbid) disappear and with that the lungs of our city, then we'd perhaps appreciate / realise their importance. But then it'd be unfortunately too late.

Star of Mysore - Voice of the Reader - Sunday, January 18, 2008

Sir,

The proposal to convert the city bus stand into a park is shocking. More shocking is the reason given by the bureaucrats to justify their proposal closeness of bus stand to the Palace.

People's Park is in existence for decades and to replicate a similar Park in the city bus stand will be a Herculean task, apart from wasting JNNURM funds for unproductive causes.

I fail to comprehend how the authorities could slow down the ongoing construction work of city bus stand claiming that a proposal to convert the bus stand into a Park is under consideration. - K. Chandrahas, Vontikoppal, Mysore Jan 15, 2009

Sir,

It was proposed in the recent JNNURM meeting that the existing bus stand be developed as park and this would protect the Palace from pollution. Before this, think of saving the existing parks around the Mysore Palace.

The beauty of parks on all the four corners of Gandhi Vana Circle near Police Commissioner's office was spoiled when the Police Parade Ground compound wall was constructed at one of the corners by spoiling the once famous Band Bungalow Park.

During 2008 Dasara, the total fencing of Nishad Bagh was removed and vehicles, even bullock carts, were allowed to be parked in this once beautiful park. Nobody seems to take care of the trees, plants, pathways etc., in this park.

Next is the Kuppanna Park which is totally ignored for years. The other Park is Gandhi Vana which houses the beautiful Traffic Island for children, a contribution of the then famous Ideal Jawa Group. The Mysore Palace will be protected from pollution if these Parks are revived and maintained properly.

It is better if they visit these places before taking such decisions and also take necessary action to save these parks instead of developing new ones at the cost of public money. - Jagadish on e-mail, Mysore, Jan 15, 2009

Solutions

NGOs such as the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) or Mysore Consumers' Forum and the Association of Concerned and Informed Citizens of Mysore (ACICM) have different solutions to the issue.

The ACICM has suggested that the bus-stand be shifted to Bannimantap where the KSRTC is reckoned to have 46 acres of land as it believes that it'd not only be convenient, but also ease traffic congestion around K.R. Circle.

The ACICM said that city buses could operate from different locations to Bannimantap terminus and there could be regular services to K.R. Circle, the main commercial area of the city.

Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Sudhir Vombatkere, president of the MGP, pointed out that the city bus-stand could be relocated to moffusil bus-stand and the latter could be shifted to the outer ring road to decongest the arterial roads of the city.

Alternatively, there could be four moffusil terminals on the outer ring road in different directions with regular services to the city, he said.

The Citizens Advisory Group, constituted by Mr. Manivannan when he was the MCC Commissioner, of which Maj. Gen. (Retd) Vombatkere was a member, has suggested that the Mysore Central Jail be relocated to a new place and a bus-stand be constructed on the jail premises.

While the authorities are debating the issue, NGOs and a cross section of society have stated that they will not allow either the People's Park or the J.K. Grounds to be "disturbed". It is now for the authorities to look for alternative solutions.

In 1976 the National Commission on Agriculture has recommended the development of Recreation Forests and Parks in urban areas "(a)s every one cannot go to distant National Parks or forests, it should be possible for the State to bring part of nature closer to the city dwellers".

The Hon'ble Supreme Court has incorporated the Principle of Intergenerational Equity into the India legal jurisprudence in the case of A. P. Pollution Control Board vs. Prof. M. V. Nayudu and Ors., reported in 1999 (2) SCC 718, where it has been held as hereunder:

"The principle of inter-generational equity is of recent origin. The 1972 Stockholm Declaration refers to it in principles 1 and 2. In this context, the environment is viewed more as a resource basis for the survival of the present and future generations.

Principle 1- Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for the present and future generations.

Principle 2- The natural resources of the earth, including the air, water, lands, flora and fauna and especially representative samples of natural ecosystems, must be safeguarded for the benefit of the present and future generations through careful planning or management, as appropriate."

34. Several international conventions and treaties have recognized the above principles and, in fact, several imaginative proposals have been submitted including the locus standi of individuals or groups to take out actions as representatives of future generations, or appointing an ombudsman to take care of the rights of the future against the present (proposals of Sands and Brown Weiss referred to by Dr. Sreenivas Rao Permmaraju, Special Rapporteur, paras 97 and 98 of his report).

35. The principles mentioned above wholly apply for adjudicating matters concerning environment and ecology. These principles must, therefore, be applied in full force for protecting the natural resources of this country."

In this regard, it is also important to highlight that the State is also bound by the mandate of Article 51 (A) (g) which casts the duty to:

"protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, ...."

Incidentally the Hon'ble Karnataka High Court in the decision in WP No. 17823/1999, Suresh Heblikar and ors. vs. State of Karnataka and ors., has observed at para 3 of its order as follows:

"Article 51 A of the Constitution envisages that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment."

The above observation of the Division Bench of the Hon'ble Karnataka High Court clearly lays down the guiding principle that needs to be interred by the State while dealing with community properties like parks and/or open spaces.

In a similar circumstance dealing with Public Trust Doctrine, the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka, in the case of Masay and Others vs Bangalore City Corporation and Ors. reported in 2003 AIR (Kar) 468 and 2003 (4) KarLJ 168, had the occasion to consider whether lease of Park or Open Space vested in the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) to a private Club with certain exclusive use was valid.

The Court while invoking the Principle of Public Trust Doctrine held that by virtue of Section 174 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, the Park and Open Spaces were vested with the BCC which however cast an obligation to maintain the same by preserving the basic features of a Park and any action which would result in damaging the essential features would be in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine. The relevant observations are cited for reference herein below:

"13. In our considered opinion. Section 174 of the Corporation Act clearly mandates that the Corporation has to manage and control the parks, play grounds and open spaces reserved for ventilation for the use those are earmarked and it has no authority to alienate or transfer such lands even by way of lease to create private interest. The Corporation is duty bound to maintain the public character of such lands and any effort to deviate from this statutory obligation would amount to breach of public trust which on having so found has to be corrected by the Courts."

The further observations of the Hon'ble Karnataka High Court make it clear that Open Spaces such as Parks and Tanks / Lakes are community property and public access to such properties cannot be restricted in any manner. The relevant extract from the aforementioned judgement is reproduced below:

"16) Anyhow, since the respondent club had been managing the land since 1932 without changing the land use and maintaining it as a playground it is more appropriate to treat the club having been conferred with the only power of management and maintenance of playground and open space. This will be in conformity with Section 174 of Corporations Act and will also advance public interest for maintaining the land as playground and open space. Accordingly, we hold that the State Government had no authority in law to permit the respondent-Club to put up any construction on the land which will change the nature of the land use and converting the land for exclusive use of the members of the respondent-Club only. The Commissioner of the Corporation had also acted in derogation of the statutory obligations in abiding the directions of the State Government. Therefore, the impugned orders at Annexure-A as well as sanction of the plan at Annexure-B are ex facie contrary to the legislative mandate and therefore unsustainable in law.

17. As regard question No. 3, keeping in view our findings as above, for the facts of the present case we do not propose to examine this question because irrespective of the provisions contained in the Planning Act since there is absolute bar on the part of the Corporation to change the use of the play ground and open spaces reserved for ventilation this by itself is enough to annul the actions of the State Government and the Corporation.

18. Accordingly, we quash the Government Order bearing No. VNE 190 MNY 90 dated 2-9-1993 (Annexure A) being ultra vires the powers of the State Government. Consequently, the sanction accorded by the Corporation to the plan for putting up construction on the land in question (Annexure-B) is also nullified. Respondents are directed to restore the land in question as a play ground and open space with unrestricted right of use and entry of the public. Any how, the compound walls and fences erected around the land in question will vest in the Corporation as it will be necessary for proper control and protection of the land from encroachments."

The same principle in similar circumstances while dealing with lease of parks vested in the Bangalore City Corporation has been applied to set aside such a lease deed executed by the said Corporation in favour of a private club by the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka, in the case of Masay and Others vs Bangalore City Corporation and Ors. reported in 2003 AIR (Kar) 468 and 2003 (4) KarLJ 168.

The leasing or handing over of parklands / park areas / parks and/or open spaces is also illegal in so far as it is violation of the mandate contained in the Karnataka Government Parks (Preservation) Act, 1975 in so far as Section 4 casts a duty on the MCC and/or the state government to preserve and maintain the Parks and to take steps to ensure the utility of Parks as gardens. Section 4 (2) further prohibits any alienation even by way of lease which will be deemed to be null and void.

The Karnataka Government Parks (Preservation) Act 1975 has to be read in conjunction with the Karnataka Parks, Playfields and Open Space (Preservation and Regulation) Act, 1985.

According to Section 8 of the latter Act there is a mandate to prevent putting up of any "structure likely to affect the utility of the park, playfield or open space or make any encroachment in or over any park, play-field or open space specified in the list published under Section 4 or Section 5."

The action of the MCC and/or the state government in leasing out parks and/or open spaces and authorising by virtue of such lease the right to construct infrastructure which would affect the utility of the parks and/or open spaces is illegal and liable to be struck down. Section 8 (2) of the said Act also casts a burden similar to the restriction contained in Section 4 of the Karnataka Government Parks (Preservation) Act 1975.

The essential sovereign functions of the State cannot be delegated or outsourced.

This is well laid out in the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Municipal Council, Ratlam vs. Shri Vardhichand and Ors., reported in 1980 AIR(SC) 1622, where it held that:

"A responsible municipal council constituted for the precise purpose of preserving public health and providing better finances cannot run away from its principal duty by pleading financial inability."

It is a settled principle that if the zoning regulations specify certain areas as lakes, or parks, or open spaces, there cannot be any diversion of the said areas for any purpose inconsistent with the traditional and planned usage attached to such properties.

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