As Bengaluru gets more crowded by the day, there is no escape for its people even in their homes as residential areas too are under threat of commercialisation. Although Deputy Chief Minister, Dr G Parmeshwar had himself ordered the BBMP to take action against illegal commercial units in these localities, little has been done and they continue to mushroom in residential neighbourhoods, much to the anger of the people. What will it take for the BBMP to act? Aknisree Karthik reports
As the city sees rampant commercialisation of its residential areas, it is only the people who appear concerned as the BBMP itself seems to be doing little to curb it. Although Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwar had months ago asked the civic agency to go all out to stop the commercialisation of residential areas, it doesn’t seem to have woken up from its inertia as not only do the old illegal units continue to thrive in these localities, but new commercial buildings are making their way into them too.
This is evident in areas like Indiranagar, where new buildings are being let out to commercial units despite opposition from the residents, who are running a campaign to stop them from mushrooming in their neighbourhoods and spoiling their peace and quiet. The people have signed a petition against the illegal commercial establishments addressed to the health officials, their corporators and MLAs, but nothing seems to be stopping their onward march.
Take 13th Main Indiranagar where two buildings with door numbers, 3023 and 3363 are blatantly commercial. Another building with door number, 2968 on 4th cross is going the same way too.
“There are major violations in all three buildings. Residents have sent petitions questioning the building sanctions and approached all officials concerned. But they are so indifferent and slow that we are not sure whether any action will be taken at all against these buildings, “ said one fed up resident.
While buildings with door numbers 2968 and 3023 are undergoing major structural changes to suit commercial needs, the building numbered 3363 houses the Fab Hotel sanctuary suites, note the despairing locals.
“We have brought all this to the notice of the authorities several times, but nothing is being done,” they lament.
When contacted, mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun, agreed that commercialisation of residential areas could not be permitted and assured that she would speak to the officials concerned in Indiranager about the continued violations of the law. “BBMP officials have been doing all they can to curb the menace,” she claimed.
High court order being undermined
It was in 2016 that the high court ordered the BBMP to put a stop to commercial establishments illegally mushrooming in residential areas in response to a petition by a group of citizens, who decided to take legal action to stop their neighbourhoods from losing their tranquility.
Faced with the court order, the BBMP issued a public notice asking all commercial units in residential areas to voluntarily move out, but as it took no follow- up action, the notice acheived little. Seeing the move as an eyewash, the people threatened to file a contempt petition against the BBMP in court for failing to act on its orders.
Responding quickly, the BBMP issued individual notices to the illegal commercial outlets in residential localities, claiming it had sent out 12,000 in all. And to prove its intent, it also randomly shut down some units in zones like Mahadevpura and Bommanahalli.
But as the pressure on it died down, so did its drive to shut down the commercial units in residential areas, leaving the people once again to fight their own battle.
Most have almost given up hope of ever winning and watch helplessly as retail outlets, which are best located in commercial areas like Brigade Road or Commercial Street, continue to stealthily open their doors in their neighourhoods, ruining their quiet. The new eateries , tailoring units and hotels are bringing with them traffic and noise to these once quiet localities, leaving Bengalureans with no peaceful nook to call their own.
Q&A: Our officials will shut down illegal units, says Ms Gangambike
People complain the BBMP is turning a blind eye to illegal commercial units in residential areas.
Our officials are working towards shutting down the illegal units.
When Deputy Chief Minister, Dr G Parameshwara has given the officials the go ahead to act, what is stopping them?
Yes, the Deputy Chief Minister has directed the officials to do everything possible to shut down these units. Nothing is stopping us. I shall follow up with the officials concerned to speed up the closure process.
You claim that officials are closing down illegal commercial establishments but in areas like Indiranagar and Koramangala, more such buildings are coming up.
It is the duty of the officials to implement the zoning regulations and building bye-laws. I will follow up with the officials of Indiranagar and Koramangala.