BENGALURU: The Bengaluru comprehensive development plan for 2031 (CDP 2031) flouts rules for protection of historical monuments, and allows construction of buildings up to 7m high within 100m of a historical monument and up to 10.5m within 200m in six planning zones.
The Bangalore Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (BMRDA), the nodal agency for development of six planning authorities on the outskirts of Bengaluru, has approved CDP 2031 for all six authorities in the last few months. In all cases, it has allowed construction of buildings within 100m of any historical location or heritage site, despite the same being barred by a gazetted notification of 1998.
A CDP is meant to serve as a regulatory framework for urban growth of a particular area, and should make provisions for protection of history and heritage. In July this year, BMRDA approved the plan for Magadi local planning authority (LPA). As part of the approved CDP, a special chapter has been dedicated to archaeological/historical monuments and precincts. While the chapter suggests that BMRDA intends to protect heritage sites, special provisions have been made for allowing construction of buildings within 100m and 200m distance of any historical monument.
In Magadi, three historical locations, declared protected monuments by the state archaeology department, have been identified. These include the fort of Bengaluru‘s founder Nadaprabhu Kempe Gowda, Ranganathaswamy temple and Someshwara temple. According to a March 10, 1998 gazette, available on the Karnataka archaeology department website, any construction, mining or quarrying within 100m of a historical monument, is barred. Further, within a 200m radius, activity is to be regulated as the area has to be declared a buffer zone.
Despite this gazette notification, the CDP for Magadi LPA has allowed the following provisions: “Buildings up to and inclusive of first floor or up to a height of 7m from ground level, whichever is less, is permissible within a distance of 100m from the premises of the monument.“
Further, buildings “up to and inclusive of second floor or up to a height of 10.5m from the ground“ have been allowed within a distance of 200m from the premises of the monument. The same provisions have been allowed in the CDPs for Nelamangala, BIAPPA, Anekal, Hoskote and Kanakapura.
BMRDA additional director for town planning MN Thippeswamy said the CDP had said construction could not take place within a protected zone without a no-objection certificate from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) or the state archaeology department. “The permission made available is subject to the NoC and also the approval of a special heritage committee, which needs to be constituted for protecting the no-construction zone, if required,“ he said.
The CDP suggests that the local planning authorities set up heritage committees for the purpose of providing necessary government approvals, and says all construction will be subject to getting no-objection certificates from the state archaeological department or ASI.
Urban design and heritage expert Sathya Prakash Varanashi said the CDP may have decided to allow construction as ASI and the state archaeology department also have rules for town planning. “ A lot of Indian rules are generalized. Oversight of the interdependency of rules -as is it in this case where both ASI and state archaeology department rules are effective in town planning -may have led CDP to state that construction activity can take place. It is time the government decided to protect heritage and historical structures directly or indirectly ,“ he said.
This seems like a classic case of creating loopholes to allow construction in protected zones, and then covering the loopholes with paper-thin riders so that the officials concerned keep themselves safe. The fact is that the rules do not allow construction near heritage sites, but local planning authorities are clearly aiming to flout those rules, and the BMRDA -the supervisory authority -is allowing it. If the comprehensive development plan-2013 allows for construction in a protected zone and then requires residents to get a zillion permissions to build there, it is creating a complicated and bureaucratic process, which is just laying the foundation for further corruption.
Credits ET Realty