The Karnataka government plans to construct the long-pending film city project in Hesaraghatta, returning to the original location proposed by former Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde over 30 years ago. In January this year, the Karnataka government announced that it had dropped its plan to construct the film city in the Roerich and Devika Rani estate in Bengaluru as there were several complaints that it would amount to encroaching on an eco-sensitive zone.
The BJP government led by BS Yediyurappa now plans to construct it at a 150-acre plot in Hesaraghatta in northwest Bengaluru. The plot is part of some land belonging to the Animal Husbandry department.
The fresh proposal is also a point of contention for conservationists. “It is one of the last remaining grasslands in Bengaluru and a lake area which is home to migratory birds. If the film city is coming up near the forest area of the land, then it is a concern and it should not be constructed there. The grassland is where the water percolates and it is also in the catchment area of the Arkavati river,” conservationist Joseph Hoover said.
In May 2020, environmental activists called for the grasslands in Hesaraghatta to be turned into a conservation reserve. The grassland is a habitat for raptors including the migratory red-necked falcon and European roller, activists said. It is also home to avian winter visitors which feed on fish and crustaceans in the adjoining Hesaraghatta Lake and wetlands. Reptiles including the red sand boa are commonly spotted here besides spotted deer, wild boars and black-naped hare are commonly spotted in the area.
Joseph Hoover urged the state government to find a different area to construct the film city. The decision to revisit the proposal to construct the film city in Hesaraghatta means that the plan sticks to the original proposal, which was proposed by former Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde in the 1980s.
Successive Chief Ministers in the state have since mooted the plan of a ‘world class film city’ in Karnataka. SM Krishna proposed in 1999 that it would come up in Hesaraghatta. Siddaramaiah announced in 2017 that it would be constructed in Mysuru. The plan was shifted to Ramanagara by HD Kumaraswamy in 2018 before the BJP government took power a year later and considered constructing it in the Roerich Estate.
The proposal was shelved after concerns raised by environmentalists that even that area is an eco-sensitive zone.