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Court quashes plea against National College flyover

By Our Staff Reporter



A file picture of the National College flyover work site.

BANGALORE, MAY 25. The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday dismissed two public interest litigations (PIL) against the construction of the flyover at the National College Circle (Vani Vilas Circle).

The petitioners, K. Narayanaswamy and seven others and H.S. Kalavathi and 100 other housewives, had challenged the construction of the flyover. They had prayed for a direction to the State and the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) not to go ahead with the flyover work.

They had said that the flyover, proposed to be constructed at a cost of Rs. 16.91 crore, was neither technically feasible nor economically viable. It was politically motivated. Besides, traffic at the National College Circle was not very heavy. The traffic lights were working satisfactorily.

They had said the flyover was against public interest and that it would not help people motoring on either side of Vani Vilas Road. Besides, it would inconvenience traders, students and residents of the area. The students of National College and National Public School, Saraswati Vidya Mandir, Jain College and Vasavi Vidya Niketan would be put to great hardship.

The petitioners had said representations made to the Chief Minister to halt the construction had not elicited any response. They had sought a Lokayukta inquiry into the project.

A Division Bench, comprising the Chief Justice, N.K. Jain, and Justice V.G. Sabhahit observed that the project was discussed and approved by the BMP Council on July 27, 2002. The Finance Department approved it on November 15, 2002 and the State Government on November 23, 2002.

The work order for the project was issued on September 3, 2003 and construction began the next day. The Bench said the project had been cleared by all the agencies, including the Bangalore Mass Rapid Transit System (BMTRL). Moreover, the fears of the residents on the loss of trees, pollution, congestion, financial implications and other aspects had been satisfactorily answered.

It said studies conducted in the area had shown that the flyover would reduce travel time and fuel consumption for the travelling public by Rs. 0.57 crore every year. Besides, work on the project had already commenced and it was likely to be completed by December 31, 2004. The Bench said a public hearing held on February 11, 2003 at Mayo Hall considered the representations made by the people on the project. It concluded that there was no need to abandon the project.

The Bench said, "This court can issue directions in an appropriate case if there is violation of fundamental rights or if the issue touches the conscience of the court, but it cannot issue any direction for espousing the cause of others for personal gain, publicity or for political motivation."

It further said that some persons would suffer if a project came up. However, it would have to be seen "whether by such a project the public is benefited or not."

Moreover, the Government had the power to take policy decisions. The petitioners had not challenged the legality of taking policy decisions. They also could not point out how the project would violate the fundamental or legally enforceable rights of the public or any law.

It said the petitioners' contention that the flyover was not economically viable as the metro rail project had been cleared had not been substantiated.

Besides, there was no merit in the argument that the BMP and the Government would be put to financial burden if the project was carried through.

It maintained that the project was justified and any violation of any provision was not proved.

The construction of the flyover might inconvenience a few but personal grievances could not be entertained to stall such constructions which were in public interest.

It dismissed the PIL as it found no good ground to issue directions as prayed for by the petitioners.

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