BBMP and IIMB-RERI bring clarity to properties encroaching on SWDs

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) went on a demolition spree in August 2016 to clear encroachments of rajakaluves, the erstwhile arteries of the city that connected the city’s waterbodies, and in modern times serve as drains. A lot of residents bore the brunt – as their dwellings were either demolished or threatened – unwittingly because they were “not” aware at the time of purchase of their land that it blocked a rajakaluve. This will not be the case anymore.

Real Estate Research Initiative of Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB-RERI), with support of the BBMP, has launched a web-based portal, www.rajakaluve.org, to enable Bengalureans check if their property is situated on a storm-water drain or rajakaluve. The website is optimised for mobile viewing and searches can be done in Kannada, apart from English.

While inaugurating the portal for public use, BBMP commissioner Manjunatha Prasad said, “This portal gives people the ease of access to find details of storm-water drains in one place.” Citizens need to have the survey number, village, hobli and taluk details as scheduled in the registration documents to be able to use the portal.

There was a lot of resentment by the public during the recent demolitions, as many lost their houses for what they claim was no fault of theirs as they had paid taxes for the property for years. If anything, they lacked information of the presence of the drains on their property, and were heavily penalised for this ignorance. Allegations were also made against the BBMP that the civic body referred to a 1902 map while pinpointing encroachments.

“There is a general fear, fuelled by the lack of information, among citizens on whether their property had encroached an important waterbody. “Through our effort, we hope to alleviate some of those fears by making information easy to access for all,” said Professor Venkatesh Panchapagesan, head of IIMB-RERI.

To link with Google Map

IIMB-RERI is collaborating with a citizen initiative, www.mapshalli.org, to provide a Google Map-based search facility for areas where detailed maps are available. Mapshalli was started by Shivakumar to provide map-based information for residents of Whitefield. “We are now collaborating as the objective of the two initiatives is to empower citizens. Users can access our information from Mapshalli website and access Mapshalli Google-based interface from our website,” said an RERI spokesperson while responding to queries of Bangalore Mirror.

Technology-enabled solutions are the way forward to solve modern-day urban challenges, according to Shiv Shankar of Mapshalli. “We started with the mapping of 50 villages around Whitefield. Now, after collaborating with IIMB-RERI, we were able to expand our services to 350 villages,” he said.

Currently, information on encroachments is available on government websites. It is not easy to search for information on a particular plot, though, and encroachment details are often provided only in embedded text within survey drawings released by government agencies, Sriram Ranganathan, product manager, IIMB-RERI revealed.

“Right now details are provided at the survey number level and not at the individual property number level. This is how data has been provided by the Revenue department,” said the RERI spokesperson. So people buying apartments will have to wait for and depend on their individual information before buying a property.

Commissioner Prasad praised the IIMB-RERI effort when he said, “I congratulate IIMB for this exercise and look forward to more collaborative efforts between the BBMP and IIMB-RERI.” Urban governance expert Ashwin Mahesh added that such systematic efforts to put government data in public domain are needed, which will allow citizens to overcome uncertainty and participate in making Bengaluru “better”.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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