Although the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had detailed records of trade licenses issued to run commercial activities in Bengaluru, the civic agency has only now arrived at a whopping figure of 38,452 as the number of businesses running without valid permit. They are functioning out of places for which they are paying residential property tax while carrying on commercial activities – considered illegal as per zoning regulations and the high court.
A recent circular from BBMP commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad had warned those running commercial activities from residential places for which they are paying residential property tax that they should shut down their activities before December 14. The deadline is now past. But now, he has come up with another shocker for those indulging in this illegal activity. He is planning to collate data from Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) and the commercial tax department (CTD) to arrive at the accurate figure and nail these violators.
Prasad said that to know how many illegal commercial businesses are being run in residential areas, “We need to link it with various data available with us. We have mapped all properties with GIS (geographical information system) network. If we look at that, the number of properties paying property tax as ‘commercial’ are 88,452. If we look at the number of trade licenses issued by the BBMP, it is just a meagre 50,000, which fit with the zoning regulations. With the remaining number (38,452), we can imagine what they are doing,” he said.
The commissioner feels that these 38,452 who are running commercial activities illegally in residential areas, either have not taken trade licences or they are not eligible for those. “But since these commercial activities are being carried on in residences, our people wouldn’t have checked it,” Prasad said.
Prasad is now trying to collect and correlate two types of data – one on how many commercial meters and connections Bescom has issued in Bengaluru, and two, from the commercial tax registration certificates issued by the commercial tax department.
“I have told officials to go according to the zoning regulation maps, which will clearly display residential and commercial areas. Officials will collect details of such commercial activities and details of the establishments. Once the data is available with us, we will issue a show cause notice to them along with the High Court order directing them to shut down their businesses. We will be waiting for their replies, and accordingly, the orders will be issued,” he said. Meanwhile, the BBMP has already commenced training procedures to its health inspectors, who are authorised to issue trade licences.
Former additional chief secretary A Ravindra has updated officials about the High Court order and about the zoning regulations which need to be followed.
“The RWA’s (residents’ welfare associations) have met me recently and they have discussed with me. I have asked the officials to first act on the list given by the RWAs,” he said. Prasad said: “Already we have issued a public notification. According to the revised master plan-2015, which came into force in 2007, it provides for a lot of commercial activities in residential areas. Then, around 20 RWAs took up the issue to the court. In January 2012, interim order was passed; and after that, 254 trade licences which were issued by the BBMP for commercial activities in the residential areas, were cancelled. Subsequently, BDA modified zoning regulations and an amendment was made in September 2014.”
A helpless commissioner Prasad said although zoning regulations are available with BBMP, nobody took implementation seriously. This forced local residents to approach the court. The court also directed the BBMP to take action, but commercial activities in residential areas continue to be rampant.
Where business activities may be allowed
* 40 feet is the minimum road-width for permission to do business. No commercial activities were allowed in ring one, ring two and ring three of the zoning regulations if the condition is not met.
* 500 sq ft is the maximum built up commercial space one can do business on in ring one and ring two areas if the road width is more than 40 feet.
(Areas coming within the core ring road come under Ring 1. Those between the core ring road and outer ring road are in Ring 2. Those beyond the outer ring road and within the local planning authority fall under Ring 3)
Credits Bangalore Mirror