In Bengaluru, demolition squad, backed by CM’s orders, goes for big fish

BENGALURU: The government is all set to get tough on big fish encroaching upon storm water drains (SWDs) or rajakaluves.

Facing criticism from opposition parties and civil society, chief minister Siddaramaiah has issued a fresh direction to BBMP officials to take steps to clear encroachments without discriminating between the rich and the poor. TOI had reported on August 13 that the demolition drive being undertaken by BBMP had not touched builders and developers who have constructed structures on SWDs.

BBMP is expected to crack the whip on encroachments and constructions that have come up on rajakaluves in a couple of days after slapping notices and earmarking boundaries. “I want you to remove encroachments by big builders and developers to totally clear the rajakaluves so that a deluge-like situation can be avoided in future,” the CM told officials.

Getting tough on encroachments, Siddaramaiah has made it clear that the officials concerned would be responsible for unauthorized construction/occupation on SWDs. So far, the anti-encroachment drive has been restricted to BJP-represented constituencies of Bommanhalli, Mahadevapura and Yelahanka.

The CM has also suggested fencing the drains to prevent encroachments in future. Recently, encroachments were identified at 1,923 spots in the 854km-long rajakaluve network in the city. Of these 922 spots have been cleared and 1,001 are still pending.

Prior to these instructions from the chief minister, BBMP officials were apprehensive of builders and developers as they had either put political pressure or obtained court stays. Secretariat sources said starting Tuesday, BBMP will start earmarking 1,001 illegal structures covering big builders, developers and influential people, and take up demolition in one or two days giving them enough time to clear them on their own.

The civic body has been asked to make new maps public so that people can take steps to clear encroachments on their own.

“The government has also told us to furnish a report with the details of poor and middle-class people who have lost their homes during the recent demolition drive. The government may be contemplating providing them some kind of relief,” said a senior BBMP official, who has been overseeing the drive for the past six days.

Pat on its own back

The Karnataka High Court has backed the government’s efforts to restore Bengaluru‘s SWDs. The government is already patting its own back over its recent drive. A tweet from the chief minister’s office along with a photograph said: “Storm water drains being rediscovered in Namma Bengaluru.”

Credits ET Realty

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