BMRCL has got approval to divert Kadugodi plantation land for construction of a depot on the Baiyappanahalli-Whitefield line. However, the Regional Empowered Committee (REC), which accords approval, has imposed a penalty on BMRCL for starting work without a formal approval.
BMRCL has been attempting to acquire 18.11 hectares (44.75 acres) of Kadugodi forest land for extending the Purple Line. Their application in November 2018 was deferred by the REC as BMRCL struggled to get non-forest compensatory afforestation land in exchange.
While 11.57 hectares was bought in villages in the fringe of Kali Tiger Reserve, the Forest Department earlier this year agreed to a BMRCL proposal to buy the remaining 6.566 hectares near Tippagondanahalli reservoir.
Since this land has good vegetation, metro has additionally offered financial aid in plantations in Turahalli reserve forest.
However, while the identification of land was in progress, BMRCL had undertaken construction at nine locations within the Kadugodi forest. The REC, which met recently in the city, viewed this as a violation as permission for diversion of land had not been acquired.
“The penalty for violation will be 20% of the amount equal to five times the NPV (Net Present Value) of the forest land in violation for each year of violation from the date of actual diversion,” notes the REC.
Furthermore, the rest of the forest land can only be used subject to orders of the Karnataka High Court, which is hearing a dispute between private parties and the Forest Department over a portion of the land.
BMRCL said they were in the process of calculating the NPV of the entire stretch of land, but believe the penalty amount would be below Rs. 1 lakh.
“We had to start construction on one pillar in the stretch, else it would delay the entire line. And in one more instance, the contractor had stored material for construction in the forest land. In both cases, we had informed the Forest Department, but we were not warned of a penalty,” said a senior official.
Metro authorities have acquired more than 442 properties, with Kadugodi being the last big hurdle. The REC decision allows BMRCL to possess this land if they make the payments.
“We have also impleaded in the land dispute. Both parties have not objected to the acquisition, and it is only a matter of whom to give the compensation. We hope to get consent from the High Court to continue construction while the compensation will be given to whoever wins the case,” said a BMRCL official.