There is a lot bubbling under the BBMP’s storm water drain mess. After bulldozing hundreds of homes, built by the poor and the middle-class with their life’s savings, the Palike is thinking of conducting a resurvey of 700 km of storm water drains. But is this a ploy by the city administrators to protect the big-ticket builders and the influential? Coming under the bulldozers is the Ideal Homes Layout which houses some of the top Kannada actors.
Far from the hustle bustle of Bengaluru's more central localities, the Ideal Homes Layout in Rajarajeshwari Nagar - now under the BBMP's radar for violations that could cost it dearly in the present demolition drive - was one of its earliest BDA- approved layouts . But it was not until the real estate boom that it found a place on the map of the city's more posh localities.
"Despite its wide roads, long stretches of green cover and coveted BDA tag, the locality got its due recognition only in late 2000. While Jayanagar and J.P Nagar are well known old BDA layouts of South Bengaluru, the Ideal Homes Layout came into the spotlight only after real estate investments in RR Nagar became significantly high," said one resident, Dr.Naik, who bought a plot in the layout in the early 1990s.
The demolition is continuing in Abbigere industrial area. Surveyors and engineers have been directed to mark the encroaching portions in the MES layout, Bagalgunte and other parts
—N. Shashikala, Deputy Commissioner (Dasarahalli)
Going by the early dwellers of RR Nagar, the layout was formed by one P.I Joseph in 1960 , but the sites were offered for sale in 1964 after it was handed over to the BDA.
"It was during this phase that the violations took place. The BDA, which had the task of approving the layout and the building plans of houses here, realised very early that it was a goose laying golden eggs," said another resident, Mr Manju, who has lived in RR Nagar since the 1960s.
Tracing the current troubles of the locality, he claims the BDA decided to divert the drain network and altered the rajakaluves to sell more sites of exact dimensions. "The Ideal Homes Co-operative Building Society formed mainly 80x100 and 100x 200 sites. In fact, of the 10,000 sites formed, less than 10 per cent were of 60 x 40 dimension. As one sq.ft of land fetched Rs 3 at the time, the BDA did the unthinkable and played with the drain network here. This is the source of all the present day troubles of Ideal Homes," he charged, claiming that the BDA officials perhaps expected to get away with the violations as the layout was on the fringes of the city.
"And they nearly did as nobody bothered about these violations for years because there was no flooding or any other rain-related problem here. Now when the BBMP is clearing encroachments, it's the property owners, who are paying a price and not the officials responsible for their plight," he regretted.
Today the layout, where one sq.ft of land is worth `10,000, is home to popular Kannada actors like Ganesh, Darshan and Malavika Avinash. But despite its posh environs, the BBMP seems bent on making an example of it and underline that it will spare no one, however influential they may be, in its current demolition drive. The coming week should reveal just how serious it is about its intentions.
Shortage of surveyors is affecting progress and marking of the encroached structures. Around 31 senior surveyors, who have been transferred to different districts, will be deputed back to the city to complete the markings and expedite the demolition drive
—N. Manjunath Prasad, BBMP commissioner
Life comes to a standstill for them
- As the BBMP got ready to pull down a big portion of a house in Abbigere, the owners, Umashankar and Revathi pleaded with its officials to let them demolish the offending portion sitting on a Storm Water Drain (SWD). A tailor by profession, Mr Umashankar said they had built the house with their hard earned money and were planning to hold a ceremony for their expecting daughter soon as was the custom. But their pleas went unheard.
- The owner of a factory and his 50 employees found themselves on the streets in Abbigere , Dasarahalli zone as the bulldozers got to work. The BBMP claimed, Mr Shashi Shekar, 50, had encroached on 5,000 sq. ft. of land for his factory, Renuka Industries that manufactured automobile spare parts in the Gurunanjundaiah Industrial Area. Mr Shekar however said his family had owned the land in question for the last six decades and the sudden decision of the BBMP to demolish the factory was a shock, “My employees are now jobless,” he pointed out. He later demolished the encroaching portion himself.
Punish the guilty govt officials: Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Tuesday urged Chief Minister Siddaramiah to take note of the sufferings of those, who had lost their homes in the current demolition drive by the BBMP despite having all the requisite documents to prove rightful ownership. Demanding that they be adequately compensated, he also called for criminal action against the government officials, who had connived with builders and real estate companies to cheat such property buyers.
The MP recalled that the Supreme Court had in 2004 called on states to create a welfare fund from the penalties paid by unscrupulous builders, who had cheated buyers and use it for their benefit. "People cannot continue to be the only victims of negligence and corruption. The government must also take action against corrupt officials and builders, who cheated them," he emphasised, warning that he would otherwise move the courts to make sure that ordinary Bengalureans did not pay for the sins of such officers and developers.
Moreover while houses of ordinary people were being demolished, large projects that had blatantly violated the law and encroached on public land, such as malls and IT parks were left untouched in the present drive, he regretted. "The government must ensure there are no double standards and take action against the rich and well connected too," he said.
No norms violated in layout, says society prez
The Ideal Homes Co-operative Building Society on Tuesday denied there were any violations in forming the layout. Society president, C M. Subbaiah and vice president M. Rajkumar claimed at a press conference that the layout was formed in accordance with BDA rules and regulations in 1964 by their founding president and was approved by the BDA under its Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP).
The society later transferred civic amenity sites, open spaces and roads in the layout spread over 326 acres to the BDA through a relinquishment deed, they explained. But in 2004 a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed alleging the layout was illegal and had been formed on government land. The issue was left to the then Deputy Commissioner to decide.
“In 2007, the assistant commissioner clarified the layout was not on government land. The matter is still pending before the deputy commissioner,” the office bearers added. As far as actor Darshan's house was considered, they said he had bought it when it was already built and former minister, Shamanur Shivashankarappa had used a CA site allotted to him by the BDA to build a hospital.
Demolition begins after two-day halt
The demolition drive resumed on Tuesday in Rajarajeshwarinagar and Abbigere in Dasarahalli zone after an interval of two days. While in Rajarajeshwarinagar the bulldozers continued with demolitions already underway, six industrial sheds and three houses were identified for demolition in Dasarahalli. Owners of five industrial sheds carried out the demolition themselves and one bought time to do so.
More buildings were marked for demolition in Mahadevapura, Bommanahalli, Rajarajeshwarinagar, Dasarahalli and Yelahanka zones. While the BBMP is doing a re-survey in some areas with the support of the revenue department after public protests over the extent of demolitions being carried out, fresh buildings were marked for razing in Bagalagunte, Abbigere, Kasavanahalli and other parts.
A senior BBMP revenue official said the survey department’s help was essential in accurate marking of encroachments. BBMP commissioner, N. Manjunath Prasad too revealed that the department of survey settlement had been asked to depute 31 officials to help with the markings to clear the present confusion.