Koramangala's days as a quiet suburb may be a thing of the past but the BBMP has arrived, with renewed vigour, to crack the whip on illegal commercial units. While residents are relieved, they believe this could be just a flash in the pan, for how could these units have come up without the BBMP's blessings in the first place? Mayor Gangambike says this is the start of a city-wide drive and that officials have been instructed not to issue any more commercial licenses in these neighbourhoods, reports Aknisree Karthik
oramangala may be unrecognisable in recent years with commercial units springing up in several of its residential localities, but the BBMP seemed to suddenly wake up to the fact on Monday with officials of its south zone sealing eight such establishments in the area. They also claimed to have issued notices to 150 such units operating illegally in Koramangala's residential neighbourhoods
While the move is undoubtedly welcome as people are beginning to forget what quiet neighbourhoods look like, there is also a great deal of scepticism about the current drive, with many seeing it as nothing but an eyewash, a flash in the pan, which will have no long term impact. Ask Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun, however, and she assures that the crackdown will not be restricted to Koramangala, but will be carried out across the city thanks to Deputy Chief Minister, Dr G Parameshwar, who is backing the officials to the hilt in their drive against the illegal commercial establishments.
She explains that Dr Parameshwar, who is also Bengaluru Development Minister, held a meeting with BBMP officials recently to sternly instruct them to curb the commercialisation of residential areas. "They have been told not to issue any new licenses for business units in these localities.
With his support BBMP officials are likely to conduct similar drives across the city," she says.
BBMP commissioner, Manjunath Prasad claims that over 12,000 individual eviction notices have already been served on business units in residential areas of the city.
But civic activists point out that the mushrooming of the illegal units could not have escaped the notice of the BBMP all these years, and suspect a nexus between the establishments and its officials.
Demands Mr Suresh N R, convenor of United Bengaluru, "Why did the BBMP allow the commercialisation of residential areas to begin with? When the building byelaws were being violated it did not care, but allowed people to build floors over floors. What do you expect the building owner do with the extra floors he has, but to rent them out to commericial units and earn a heap of money. The civic body is armed with the rule book on zoning regulations and a Master Plan, but it has not been cracking down on these units. The civic officials are putting off taking action against them only to please their political bosses."
He stresses that it's high time the BBMP took action against illegal commercial units mushrooming in residential neighbourhoods across the city.
Observing that one of the worst offshoots of the city's explosive growth has been the illegal entry of commercial units in practically every street, commercial or otherwise, Mr Srinivas Alavilli, co-founder of Citizens of Bengaluru rues that Indiranagar and Koramangala have borne the brunt of it.
" It doesn't take rocket science to see that all these violations have the blessings of someone or the other in the BBMP, causing huge financial loss to the corporation and destroying the peace of residential layouts," he contends.
"When planning and enforcement are done locally with ward committees leadingthe way, we can plan and design inclusive, diverse and safe localities. I urge the BBMP to apply the same rules to everyone and not selectively target those who have no connections, while sparing the big fish. The law should be the same for all," he stresses.
Problems anew for indiranagar residents as new hospital springs up on 12th main
As the BBMP took action on Monday against commercial establishments in the residential localities of Koramangala, not too far away, two new commercial units were getting ready to open in the residential areas of HAL 2nd stage. While a full-fledged hospital is opening in building number 1180 on 1st Cross, a corporate office has occupied building number 2999 on 12th A Main, Indiranagar, HAL 2nd Stage. “We saw the commercial units doing pooja and getting ready to start their operations,” say the local residents, who have protested the mushrooming of illegal commercial establishments in their midst and petitioned the local MLA, Raghu and BBMP joint commissioner, East, against them. “At times while we are still fighting the existing commercial units operating in our area, new buildings sneak in flouting all rules. Although the BBMP is supposed to implement the zoning regulations, its officials don’t seem to give it any importance,” they complain, adding, “We have been trying our best to fight this monster, which has ruined our peace, but in vain. How does you expect us to feel seeing cars and two-wheelers parked in front of our houses all the time? And there is constant traffic of customers of these commercial units, which causes congestion and noise pollution.” The people allege the BBMP officials only pretend to be doing their duty while secretly helping the commercial establishments in return for a bribe. “When we protest they assure us that they will take suitable action against these units, but do nothing after their hands are greased,” they charge.
Q&A: Officials told not to issue new licences says Mayor Gangambika
Why have officials suddenly started to crack down on commercial units operating illegally in residential areas?
Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Parameshwar, in his recent meeting with BBMP officials sternly instructed them to take measures to curb the commercialisation of residential areas and asked them not to issue any new licenses for business units in these localities. (Hence the crackdown).
The BBMP did nothing after issuing a public notice and serving individual notices to illegal units operating in residential areas. Is the recent drive in Koramangala an eyewash or will it be extended seriously across the city?
Anything which bothers people should be attended to immediately. The commercialisation of residential areas too is a menace which has destroyed their peace. With the Deputy Chief Minister backing the officials, people can expect more crackdowns in other parts of the city too.
If officials have been told not to permit new commercial units in residential areas, how come new ones are coming up in these localities every day, especially in areas like Indiranagar?
Besides ancillary units, permission should not be granted for any commercial establishment in residential zones. The zonal health official will be held directly responsible if permission is granted illegally.