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When an Act of power took on the state



B.M. Shivakumar stands on the playground, which was leased out for a pittance. Public outrage forced the BDA to backtrack, thanks to anRTI application.

In a major victory for the residents of 1st main road at Kengeri Satellite Town, the Bangalore Development Authority cancelled the allotment of a sprawling playground in the area on a 30-year lease to a religious organisation. The decision was taken after the residents staged a spirited agitation.

The site, initially allotted to the Department of Collegiate Education on December 15, 2008, was suddenly given to the Basaveshwara Samaja Sudharana Samithi to build an anubhava mantapa on the orders of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa in February 2009.

Successful agitation

The residents' agitation and their eventual success were triggered by a simple RTI application filed by socialist B.M. Shivkumar. Speaking on the sidelines of the programme, Mr. Shivkumar narrated the sequence of events that led to this success.

“During one of my evening walks in the playground, I noticed some people drilling a borewell right in the middle of the ground,” he said. He initially thought that the exercise was part of a BBMP or BDA project to improve sporting infrastructure. “But I'm a very inquisitive person and could not resist asking them what was going on. I got a shock when they told me that they owned the ground and were going to build a community hall there,” he said.

30-year lease

Mr. Shivkumar immediately filed an RTI with the Bangalore Development Authority and discovered that CA Site No. 3, measuring 1,394.76 square metres, had been leased to the Basaveshwara Samaja Sudharana Samithi for Rs. 35,000 for 30 years.

“Once I took the findings of the RTI to the people, there was no stopping them. The State Government used all sort of tactics to quell the protest but public outrage defeated its might,” he said.

Exception

At the programme, Mr. Shivkumar took exception when some people said the RTI Act is being misused by blackmailers and other vested interests. Giving an analogy, he said: “Every house has a toilet. But that doesn't mean every room in the house is dirty. The RTI is a great tool. We should not be distracted by stray cases of misuse.”

SM

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