After coming full circle — from Hesaraghatta in 2008 to Mysuru, Ramanagara and Roerich Estate on Kanakapura Road and back to Hesaraghatta — the Karnataka government’s Film City project is on ecosensitive grasslands on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
The government plans to develop it on the private-public-partnership model. As per a preliminary proposal, the Infrastructure Development Corporation of Karnataka (iDECK) said the project has been planned on 25 acres currently under the animal husbandry and veterinary sciences department. Sources in the government said it may be expanded to over 200 acres. The animal husbandry department has around 347 acres in the vicinity.
However, environmentalists suggest it will put the state’s green cover and fodder bank in peril. They claim that in the last 20-25 years, Karnataka has already lost at least 4% of grasslands due to unscientific urbanisation and haphazard development.
“If the Film City further erases grasslands, where will shepherds go to graze their cattle?” asked environmentalist Suresh Heblikar.
Estimates suggest that around 75 lakh shepherds, also a large votebank, depend on grasslands for their livelihood. Officials claim there may be minimal damage to the grasslands as there will maintain a 2-kilometre buffer zone from the green cover. However, the buffer zone has disappeared in the region due to rapid development and construction.
“It would be best to consider a location in North Karnataka as it will have a better impact on people in underdeveloped districts. It will provide more attractive locales for film shooting and spare Bengaluru more congestion,” Heblikar said. The proposed location is accessible to other film industries, apart from Sandalwood, and tourists by air, road or rail.
The centrepiece of the Film City is the Government Film and Television Institute (GFTI) located on 2 acres in Hesarghatta.