Nearly four months after demolitions began — and ended within days — in Bengaluru, doubts are being raised whether the drive was shelved to shield the rich.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s official position on the matter is that it doesn’t have enough surveyors. But a cursory look at the demolitions confirms the suspicions of those affected by it: the drive came to a halt as soon as it reached the doorsteps of the rich and powerful like filmstar Darshan and former minister Shyamanoor Shivashankarappa.
The drive followed high court orders of August 4, 2011, directing the civic agency to rid the city of all encroachments, following which the state government, after five years decided to strictly execute the court orders. With the exercise stranded after just two months of execution, a little over half the encroachments have been demolished.
On his part, a helpless BBMP commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad, said he is unable to follow the high court’s orders which directed his civic agency to clear all encroachments within three months – actually, had to be done by first week of November, 2011. The BBMP has blamed it on the lack of surveyors as the Survey Settlement & Land Records Department (SSLRD) is not providing the required number of experienced surveyors to resume the demolition drive.
The surveyors had identified around 1,955 properties all over Bengaluru which had encroached storm water drains (SWDs). Around 1,070 properties have been demolished while 885 properties are yet to be dealt with. But the drive has been stopped due to the non-availability of surveyors.
On November 18, Prasad wrote a letter to the SSLRD commissioner, briefing him on how the demolition works had got stranded due to the non-cooperation from that department.
Now after two months of lull in the encroachment demolition activity across the city, the affected residents are unable to come to terms with it. They are questioning the unjust manner in which the demolition drive was carried out and the abrupt stop to the exercise that has left the richer property owners encroaching SWDs apparently go scot-free.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru in-charge minister KJ George on Thursday said in the legislative council that the demolition drive would be resumed, and all encroachments in and around water bodies and SWDs would be evicted by next session of the state legislature.
While confirming that the stoppage of demolition drive was due to the shortage of surveyors, he also clarified that the state government had not differentiated between the rich and poor while carrying out the demolition drive. In a detailed reply to JDS MLC TA Sharavana, George said, “The house committee headed by speaker KB Koliwad has listed 391 buildings as encroachers of SWD, out of which 130 buildings have already been demolished.
The drive could not be continued for shortage of surveyors as the revenue department withdrew its surveyors citing pending works. With the chief minister and speaker requesting the services of surveyors, they would be deputed to Bengaluru in 10 days to survey the existing areas and evict encroachments.” JDS leaders, making a veiled reference to delaying the demolition of sandalwood star Darshan’s house and former minister Shyamanoor Shivashankarappa’s property, alleged that the state government was only targeting the poor and sparing the rich.
Quick to react, George said, “Government has not differentiated between the poor and rich. In fact, several properties belonging to the rich have also been demolished. In future, too, the demolition would continue as per the high court’s orders.”
Credits Bangalore Mirror