Bengaluru loses revenue over dilemma on public spaces

Confusion over the percentage of space developers must mandatorily leave for parks and playgrounds in layouts is resulting in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike not sanctioning such plans over the past year. This consequently means the civic body has not been issuing commencement and occupancy certificates, and thus not collecting relevant fees to the tune of over Rs 400 crore, according to CR Lakshminaryan, chairman of the town planning department.

Not just that. There is no clarity among the BBMP officials themselves about the prevailing rules. The reason for this is that a circular over the matter was issued by then-commissioner Bharat Lal Meena, which was challenged in the year 2015. The High Court of Karnataka then ordered BBMP to sanction plans accordance to the law, but officials say there are in a dilemma over the details.

Of the uncertainty over the amount of land to be earmarked as public spaces and fine in cases of violation, an officer of the town planning department told media, “Since the year 2011, we did not issue any demand note to builders asking them to pay 10 per cent on the guidance value for not reserving open space for parks. But since last year, we have been doing so. This was challenged in court, and quashed after the court asked us to sanction plans in accordance with the law. It is over this that we need a clarity from the state government.”

Meena’s order pertained to land measuring less than five acres. For land over five acres, it is already mandatory to leave open spaces for playgrounds and parks. The unsure BBMP officials sought clarity from the state government on the HC order. These files were at the former city development minister KJ George’s office but after the recent developments in the office, the file has come back to the BBMP.

BBMP’s town planning standing committee members had met George many times and had tried to convince him on the issue as the civic body was losing out on crores of rupees in revenue due to non-sanctioning of plans. Officials are now contemplating meeting CM Siddaramaiah over the matter, as he holds the Bengaluru development portfolio.

Nearly 2,000 cases filed with SC against BBMP
Head of the legal cell KD Deshpande has gone on record that BBMP is fighting a number of cases pertaining to open space for parks and playgrounds in the Supreme Court. As many as 1,864 cases have been filed against the BBMP order, as developers do not want to leave 10 per cent space for public spaces, nor are they willing to pay 10 per cent of the guidance value to the civic agency in cases of violation. These cases are still pending before the Supreme Court.

Irfan Razaq, chairman of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India also says there is confusion over the matter. “There is a law that for the development plan of 12,000 sq mt of commercial property and 20,000 sq mt of residential, the said public spaces should be set aside. This, no one is opposing. But officials suddenly came up with some circular stating that for plots less than 20,000 and 12,000 sq mt also, builder needs to pay 10 per cent of the guidance value. That is not acceptable and has been challenged. It is a senseless order. But we are ready to leave the spaces in accordance to the law. If you suddenly ask builders to pay 10 per cent of the guidance value, is not at all possible. Hope the government will soon realise the error and withdraw the order,” he said.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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