Bengaluru is paying for the violations that many of its builders and land owners have made over the years in constructing apartments or homes. Several buildings in the city are making news for tilting on their side and putting their occupants at risk. While the BBMP is now making all the right noises and promising to demolish all old buildings that are unsafe, it may be a case of too little too late as it has in the past turned a blind eye to building violations being carried out right under its nose. Aknisree Karthik reports
When an old building in JP Nagar tilted on its side recently, threatening the lives of its occupants and neighbours, BBMP commissioner Anil Kumar rushed to the spot and promised to set up a team to inspect old buildings in all eight zones of the city and demolish that were unfit for occupation.
But like always the BBMP is fighting the fire after looking the other way while it was being lit. After all, it’s no secret that several buildings in the city have been built illegally with no thought for safety of people living in them right under the civic agency’s nose.
“The BBMP doesn’t care about the occupants of such buildings or their neighbours, when they are coming up,” regrets Mr Sarvanan, a resident of Linagarajpuram, blaming greed for the present situation in the city.
“The building owners like to build extra floors to get more rent and the BBMP engineers take their share to overlook the violations” he observes angrily.
Many other Bengalureans regret that instead of curbing the building violations, the BBMP has come up with the Akrama Sakrama scheme to regularise them on payment of betterment charges.. “Where on earth do you see mass building violations being allowed by a government body, which then comes forward with a plan to regularise them?” demands Ms Shruthi, one city resident, indignantly.
Confirming people’s fears, urban expert, Sridhar Pabbisetty says the JP Nagar case is not the only one of its kind as there are many buildings in the city that are in a similar condition. “It is important that a thorough investigation is done of all the buildings that have collapsed. The BBMP should submit a preventive and corrective plan to assure the people that it is treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves,” he suggests, adding that it is also important for owners and tenants of multi -storey buildings to get their structural safety evaluated to prevent future disasters.
While the BBMP commissioner has promised to set up a team to inspect all old buildings in the city for their safety, not everyone is convinced that he will keep his word as this is not the first time such an assurance has been given by the civic agency.
Ask mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun and she admits that many mayors and commissioners had promised to form teams to inspect old buildings, but never did. She, however, claims it will be different this time. “BBMP commissioner Anil Kumar has assured that he will take action on old buildings,” she says firmly.