The Members of Save Vaccine Depot Organisation Belagavi submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner Belagavi urging the administration to Protect the Vaccine depot (the oxygen chamber of Belagavi) from illegal constructions in the name of smart city projects.
1) We the people of Belagavi as environment lovers and responsible citizens of our country, wish to appeal to you and submit our memorandum seeking your kind intervention to stop destruction of vaccine depot by carrying on development activities in the name of smart city projects.
2) We are very much happy that our city Belagavi was amongst the 1st 20 cities which were chosen for development as smart cities.
3) The Smart City Plan, as envisaged by Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, was unique because it was, for the very first time, that a government plan was developed on the basis of an extremely detailed and extensive stakeholder consultation process. 2 Therefore the preliminary plan and the final plan accurately reflect the wishes of the people who live in the city of Belagavi. According to a study of replies by over 1.02 lakh stakeholders, the entire 156 acre expanse of green space known as Vaccine Institute was to be reserved as a heritage precinct for the present, and if, in future, the need arose then, for use by the Department of Health for reverting to Vaccine manufacturing.
4) According to the wishes of the people of Belagavi, two vast areas were designated as “Heritage precincts” in the smart city, Area based Development plan namely the Fort of Belagavi and the vaccine depot. This made the Belagavi smart plan unique, as no other city in the country had attached so much weightage to the heritage and this fact was appreciated by the judges at the Ministry in New Delhi
5) It has therefore now come as a matter of grave concern and disappointment for the citizens of Belagavi to know that their wishes which was a part of the original plan in the smart city presentation is now being completely diverted and drifting away from the Smart City Plan and floating tenders for the construction of an ‘Aviation Museum’ and an ‘Amphitheatre’ within the walls of the Karnataka Health Department’s premier Institute—the Vaccine Institute of Belagavi—where lifesaving vaccine was made till 2007.
The Government of Karnataka, showing great vision and wisdom issued a Government Order AKUKA 84 CGM which prohibited any construction within the 3.396 kilometre long walls 3 of the Belagavi Vaccine Institute. The order specifically preserves Vaccine Depot and to convert it into “Botanical Garden” only. Hence any type of construction activity destroying the ecology of vaccine depot should be prohibited.
6) The former Health Minister of Karnataka on 23rd November 2016 firmly reiterated the Government of Karnataka’s resolve not to allow any construction in Belagavi’s Vaccine Institute. However large no of trees are being felled in the name of development.
7) Sir, we all have grown up in Belagavi and it pains to see the same being destroyed in the name of development. We therefore want to bring to your Notice that this valuable space of the Health Department is being ‘eyed’ by others and they have changed the Smart City Plan which was developed, according to the wishes of the people of Belagavi, to put up irrelevant structures, like an “Aviation Museum” and an ‘amphitheatre’, in this sacred space which is the oxygen chamber of Belagavi and where the battle against smallpox was fought.
An Aviation Muesum has nothing to do with heritage. What is an ‘Aviation Museum’? We people do not even know what it is, except that it is not a part of heritage as we know it. It may be something to amuse rich children. Is it like a Space Museum?, Perhaps it should be located near Sambra Airport where there is plenty of land and not in the middle of a Vaccine Institute which belongs to the Health Department and not to the Aviation Department. Sir, if we allow aviation 4 museums and amphitheatre to come up, then the day is not far when even cinema halls and shopping malls would invade vaccine depot.
8) If we squander these 156 acres on random projects which end up like the “Glass House” built in Vaccine Institute with precious public funds, in future we will repent this mistake. The ‘Glass House’ -, within one year, was reduced to a ruin — with broken glass panes — and empty spaces occupied by wild dogs,.
Sir, we assure you that in making this appeal to you, we are guided by nothing else but that beacon of light that shines from Article 51 A of our Constitution, which enjoins every Indian citizen to protect the country’s heritage., and the Belagavi Vaccine Institute, where even the Mahatma stayed for nine days in a hut, is a glorious part of our country’s heritage. It is also an integral and celebrated part of our Karnataka’s heritage.
9) Sir, this also is like the “karmabhoomi” of the health workers, who are feeling deeply disturbed by this irreverent plan — which was not sanctioned by the people of Belagavi.
10) Sir, the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Smart City vision was unique because it envisaged an absolutely unique process of planning. The uniqueness came from the largest stakeholder consultation exercise ever undertaken.
After ascertaining the opinions of over 1,02,000 people, the Belagavi Smart City plan was developed, and the Politicians are not allowed to dictate projects to the people. The Prime Minister wished to see 5 the planning process changing direction and starting from the people upwards, but unfortunately, the wishes of the people are being undermined. The Government Order is being violated.
The Belagavi Smart City Ltd., has on 8th September 2020, amidst widespread opposition from the people of Belagavi, in a great hurry, started the e-process of tenders for an ‘Aviation Museum’, etc and the projects are now in progress. Trees are being destroyed everywhere and even an old building is demolished. Large amount of the vaccine depot is being excavated. Bull dozers and JCB are on the work day and night.
Restrooms or washrooms which were not at all necessary have sprung up everywhere and are 15 in numbers. A total waste of land, resource and money totally disrespecting the central govt sanction and whims and fancies of individuals are calling the shots in the destruction of vaccine depot. The vaccine depot is being destroyed just to show the development and utilization of the smart city funds. These fanciful projects do not reflect the heritage status of Belagavi We turn to you in desperation to help us protect our Karnataka’s heritage, which is also our oxygen chamber and also a site where it contributed to both our freedom struggle and our struggle against our country’s worst enemy — smallpox, and which can be a center for the development of new vaccine institute which our country desperately needs. We citizens also accord our strong disapproval the way in which the original smart city plan 6 is being subverted from the central govt’s original plan for heritage-rich Belagavi.