True Story was told about the impending demolition way back in 2008 – A press Report
A retired police sub-inspector has been running from pillar-to-post to stop encroachments at Kasavanhalli since 2008. He says none of his pleas were ever heard, which led to large-scale encroachment. The recent downpours, however, finally woke the state government and BBMP to the problem and begin demolitions. S Hanumanna says if civic agencies had woken up earlier then people’s money could well have been saved.
The 62-year-old has now got some closure after seeing the civic agency demolishing structures that have encroached upon the SWD and lakebed. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror he said, “I have been fighting for the restoration of SWDs for the past several years, but not one even bothered to listen to my petition. I even begged those who came here to buy properties not to do so as this is a lakebed and one fine day they would land in trouble. Now the BBMP has started the demolition of villas built on the other side of Kasavanahalli and Kaikondanhalli Lake and I feel that the demolitions will continue in Kasavanahalli village too.”
“There were many small ponds, used by cows, buffalo, and sheep, as a source of drinking water. I remember swimming in Kasavanahalli Lake when I was young. But the entire village and its surroundings have changed in the last decade. Random encroachment has taken place and the lake and drains have been filled in with mud and huge apartments and commercial complexes have come up on it. I should not blame buyers, as people sold them lakebed areas by giving them a neighbouring survey number, which is illegal. Today, however, the buyer is suffering as he has been fooled by the developer.”
Hanumanna, along with other residents of Kasavanahalli village — which was under the jurisdiction of Bommanahalli city municipal council and now falls under Mahadevapura zone of BBMP — met the joint commissioner on January 31, 2008 and submitted their grievances about alleged encroachments of drains and lakes. Later he claimed he personally gave a petition to the then BBMP commissioner Bharat Lal Meena on November 19, 2009, but his grievance was not heard.
“I have met officials. Instead of taking action and stopping the encroachments, which had just begun in those days, my petitions were forwarded from the top level to the bottom level. I have seen BBMP’s engineers visiting these commercial properties and collecting mamool [bribes] from them. I was helpless, but after the recent drive undertaken by the BBMP, I feel that Kasavanahalli village, which once had many waterbodies, will be restored,” he maintained.
NEWS PAPER REPORTS:
If citizens with homes built on lakebeds or SWDs feel like there’s a sword hanging over their heads, they’re not alone. The latest demolition drive is also set to claim the careers of a few civic officials, who knowingly or unknowingly, helped people encroach on drains and into buffer zones by sanctioning their building plans.
Following chief minister Siddaramaiah’s order to conduct an inquiry into the recent flooding after Hulimavu Lake breached its banks mainly due to encroachment on SWDs in areas like Duo Enclave, additional chief secretary (urban development) Mahendra Jain is preparing a report.
Speaking to Bangalore Mirror Jain said: “I asked for certain files from the BBMP commissioner and they have reached my office. The affected areas were hit due to the recent rains, lake breaches and encroachments on SWDs. These are being checked and a report is being prepared.”
He is also checking who’s at fault for Hulimavu Lake breaching its banks and adversely affecting more than one lakh residents of the area and Silk Board-Rupen Agrahara junctions.
He said, “Every BBMP official’s role is being examined: Which official was responsible for the recent flooding and who allowed buildings to come up on drains. I have got all the information and the report is in its final stage. Action will also be initiated against engineers and town planning officials who sanctioned plans, and revenue staff for issuing khatas.”
Builders, residents, officials responsible
Meanwhile, the BBMP commissioner, in the council on Monday, held builders, residents and BBMP officials equally responsible for the mess. He said, “If civic officials hadn’t colluded with these builders and residents and sanctioned plans then we would have averted this kind of situation.”
“As per the CM’s order, additional chief secretary of urban development department is conducting an inquiry and we have submitted a set of files to him,” he added.
Files of Shubh Enclave have also been submitted to the additional chief secretary.
DOLLARS COLONY- SWORD IS STILL HANGING – IT MUST HAND FOREVER – THE RICH AND MIGHTY ARE SPARED – THE POOR ARE THROWN OUT –
Lake Committee chairman, KB Koliwad, says Dollars Colony – where hundreds of VVIPs have plots and homes – will also be considered for demolition as reportedly the complete layout is built on Linganahalli lake. He says ministers, MLAs and many VVIPs were given sites there by the BDA and he is putting the final touches on his report and then action will be taken.
The fate of Dollars Colony in JP Nagar VII phase hangs in the balance as records, now in the public domain, indicate that the BDA had no legal basis to form the layout.
Koliwad says that the complete layout is illegal. He states that even the present CM had a site in the layout, which he eventually sold. Around 400 VVIPs are alleged to have homes or plots in the layout.
A 1988 government order excludes Linganahalli lake, Shivanagilu lake and Jakkaraya-nakere from the preservation list, saying they had lost the characteristics of a waterbody. However, the land was not transferred to the BDA and the 2014-15 RTC also shows the area as a lake. The state government denotified all land notified for the layout in 2001, 2002 and 2004. The BDA says that the layout was developed in Survey No 167 in Linganahalli lake, whereas records claim it is in Survey No 7 of Sarakki village.
Now, a complete enquiry has been carried out and all relevant documents have been collected. “We are yet to finalise some issues with this layout. It is confirmed that the land was originally a lake. I will not stop my work of finding encroached land, even if a VVIP owns it. A lake is a lake,” Koliwad said. Already a complaint about this layout is pending with Lokayukta and the BMTF is also conducting an investigation based on a complaint.
The BDA’s role
Last year when the Bengaluru district administration started a demolition drive on encroachment of lakebeds that included several layouts set up by the BDA like Dollars Colony, the government met with bitter criticism and the issue came up before the cabinet. With polls to the BBMP and local bodies around the corner, the state government decided that it would not touch those layouts till the House Committee submitted its report. According to the House Committee, the BDA came up with as many as 14 layouts in lake areas.
While the House committee supported the on-going demolition drive on either side of SWDs across Bengaluru, its repeated silence over the fate of encroachments by agencies like BDA has left the public fuming. When asked whether the House Committee has taken a stand against such encroachments by BDA on lakebeds, Koliwad refused to comment.
“You just wait a couple of months. We will not spare anybody. Our committee will submit its final report to the government by the end of October 2016,” Koliwad revealed.
More to follow?
Following the recent order by the National Green Tribunal on the measurement of SWDs and buffer zone around the lake, the House committee ordered a fresh survey of encroachments in light of the NGT’s latest verdict. The survey report, expected to be submitted next week, is likely to further expose rampant encroachment.
“The survey report about SWD encroachment and buffer zones by a team of officials is expected to be submitted to us by August 11 and thereafter we will be in a position to ascertain the extent of encroachment of SWDs and buffer zones of lakes and other water bodies,” Koliwad told the media.
Report on lakes
Probing the encroachment of lakes and water bodies over two years, the House Committee has decided to submit an extensive report that would resemble an “encyclopaedia of Bengaluru lakes”, according to Koliwad.
“We have collected data running to seven pages for each lake. Bengaluru has five taluks and four hoblis. Each hobli, on average, has 50 to 150 lakes thus the report runs into more than 8,000 pages,” he explained.
Lauding the CM’s stand on encroachers, Koliwad said, “There should be no mercy on encroachers. Be it influential people, socialites or VIPs, everybody who has encroached these water bodies must be punished severely. Just because of a few, society as a whole must not suffer. We will recommend booking of criminal cases against builders and developers.”
BMTF – TOOTHLESS AND POWERLESS –
Corporators on Monday said the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) did not have the power to file FIRs, and rather than having them quashed in the courts, the civic agency should file complaints with the local police.
R Satyanarayana, the Congress party’s ruling leader in the council, referred to Justice RB Budihal’s judgment, issued on February 24, 2015, in a case were several BBMP officials were accused by the BMTF. The judge maintained that in view of the provision under section 192A of the Karnataka Land Records Act, there is a bar on the BMTF registering FIRs.
Satyanarayana demanded that action to be taken against former officers of the city municipal council and town municipal council, who allegedly allowed rampant encroachment. He said, “The CM has made it clear that the administration won’t be compromising with builders or anyone else. Demolition will be undertaken mercilessly. Encroachment is the simple reason for the city being flooded and for this builders and officials are equally responsible.”
According to the KLR act section 192A – offences and penalties – if anyone unlawfully enters or occupies any government land with the intention of holding that
government land, they can face imprisonment for one year and a fine of Rs5,000 while anyone who cheats and thereby dishonestly creates documents for the purpose of selling, mortgaging or transferring by gift of any government land can face imprisonment for three years and fine of Rs10,000. The same punishment is earmarked for creating forged documents.
How long does it take the BBMP to mark five buildings that have encroached on an SWD in Ramachandrapura, in Yelahanaka? Eight years!
Continuing its drive against encroachers, civic officials demolished the compound walls of three buildings, and a canteen. No individual came forward to claim ownership for the canteen. The marking of properties was undertaken by Yelahanaka zone joint commissioner Sarfraz Khan.
Yelahanaka zone’s executive engineer Yarappa Reddy said, “This locality is notorious for goondaism. For the last eight years the revenue department was not allowed to do any kind of survey on encroachments and they were also not allowed to mark properties. But on Monday we did a quick survey and based on that we marked the buildings that are obstructing drains.”
Officials conducted a survey on a three-kilometre stretch of drain and discovered that five buildings had encroached upon the site to the tune of 20,000 sq ft. After the demolition, the BBMP has fenced off the drain.
While the demolition was taking place, several residents were skeptical about the BBMP’s identification process. Several residents demanded proper identification of drains. A verbal battle ensued after BBMP officials failed to produce documents claiming that the structures encroached on drains.
Ashok N, a resident who had occupied a small space for a nursery had a drain passing through it, which the BBMP claimed was obstructing the natural flow of water.
Ashok said, “A couple of ago years there was small lake called Hoskere, which was destroyed by land-grabbers. The direction of the original lake was diverted. We
allowed this drain to pass through as water was flowing through it. We didn’t build anything but our nursery which is fully covered with herbs and bushes.”
Pointing at the drain which was demolished, Yarappa Reddy said, “If you see the drain, you can easily say that the natural flow of water is obstructed. The drain should not be diverted. If people justify that the work done by us was wrong then we will compensate them.”
There was more drama at the demolition sites after a compound wall was demolished. V Prabhakar, a resident of the spot for 30 years, came running out of his house to stop the demolition. The BBMP had marked that four feet had to be demolished. Prabhakar then sought permission from officials to take up the demolition on his own.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah says preventing floods is of paramount importance
Supporting the demolition drive taken up by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, chief minister Siddaramaiah on Monday clarified that the government does not want Bengaluru to go the Chennai way. Referring to the 2015 Chennai floods due to encroachment of storms and waterbodies the CM told media persons in Vidhana Soudha, “We do not want Bengaluru to face the Chennai situation and so are clearing out all encroachments.”
Saying that the government would spare none in this regard, he said, “Be it builders, developers or whoever it may be or however influential they are, all encroachers will be dealt uniformly.”
Replying that the government also has sympathy to those who are losing their houses, Siddaramaiah said, “We also need to think about inconvenience caused during the heavy rains. I am aware that a few of the officials too have erred and we will initiate action against such officers too. The people who bought properties on storm-water drains should have been more cautious before making the purchase. They cannot be causing floods by constructing houses on drains.”
BJP leaders in the meanwhile criticised the government’s decision to demolish houses of poor people, and has demanded that the government take action against officials and builders responsible for the mess. Through a press statement, Malavika Avinash, joint spokesperson of Karnataka BJP said, “The government in an attempt to hogwash its critics goes after the middle-class who become soft-targets by building homes upon encroached spaces sold to them by developers, while the bigger offenders like large construction companies, owners of tech-parks, malls and multiplexes stay out of their bounds. The government must also crack down on large-scale builders, owners of tech parks, malls and multiplexes that have encroached on waterbodies.”
Siddaramaiah rules out halting demolition drive by BBMP
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday said there was no question of stopping the BBMP’s ongoing drive to demolish structures on stormwater drains.
“The properties of builders and developers – however influential they might be – which have come up on lakebeds and stormwater drains, will not be spared. The government will not succumb to any sort of pressure,” Siddaramaiah told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Bengaluru.
He rubbished charges that the government was targeting only the poor and middle-class families. “If the drive is not taken up, there will be disastrous repercussions every time it rains. Thousands will have to suffer due to waterlogging and flooding. Bengaluru can turn into another Chennai,” Siddaramaiah said, referring to last year’s floods in the Tamil Nadu capital. The chief minister said houses constructed on lakebeds were bound to be flooded when it rains, but ultimately the BBMP had to take the blame. He said an enquiry has already been ordered against officials who had violated rules by permitting such constructions. Action will be initiated against such officials, he said.
Siddaramaiah has also sought details of encroachment of rajakaluves (stormwater drains/ feeder canals) which had led to flash floods on July 28 and 29.
Replying to queries on the demolition drive to evict encroachment of rajakaluves, in the BBMP Council on Monday, Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said the chief minister has asked him to fix the responsibility on the officials who issued ‘A’ Khatha (revenue document) and sanctioned building plans on the rajakaluves.
Prasad told the Council that the width of a primary stormwater drain at Kasavanahalli was reduced from 50 metres to 10 metres.
He said Avani Sringeri Nagar Layout and Shubh Enclave were among those formed on stormwater drains.
The chief minister has assigned Additional Chief Secretary for Urban Development Department, Mahendra Jain, to head the panel to look into the files pertaining to the approvals and initiate criminal action against the officials responsible for giving permission. The Joint Commissioner of Bommanahalli Zone has been directed to provide the files.
Defending the encroachment-clearance drive, chief minister Siddaramaiah on Monday said the government does not want Bengaluru to face a Chennailike post-deluge situation.
He was referring to the havoc wreaked by the December 2015 floods in Chennai where a major portion of the city was inundated. More than 100 persons were killed and collateral damage was pegged at over Rs 20,000 crore. One of the prime reasons attributed to flooding was encroachment of marshlands.
Siddaramaiah said Bengaluru faces a similar threat because of rampant encroachment of storm water drains.The BBMP had identified 1,923 encroachments and intensified the anti-encroachment drive three days ago.
Though pressure was being mounted on the government by realtors and families whose houses are being demolished, Siddaramaiah refused to slow down the drive currently being carried out in south Bengaluru. “Action will be taken against violators, irrespective of how powerful or influential they are. The people who bought properties on storm water drains should have been more cautious while making the purchase. They cannot be causing floods by constructing houses on drains,” he said.
To a question on the role of officials in giving permission for properties on encroached land, Siddaramaiah said: “We know officials have made mistakes, but that does not mean people have not erred. Moreover, these mistakes happened during the previous governments, and not our tenure. If we don’t act tough against encroachments now, we’ll face problems in future. We have already seen flooding in parts of BTM Layout and Bommanahalli last week because of encroachment of storm water drains. Do you expect us to sit quiet in such circumstances?”
The legislature committee on encroachment of lakes will submit its findings to the government by October-end this year. Committee chairman KB Koliwad said the preliminary report on encroachment of SWDs and lake buffer zones will be submitted after officials deliver the 8,000-page report on August 11.
Based on inputs collected by the committee during inspections, Koliwad said: “Encroachment of lakes is a serious issue and cannot be neglected. We found that most encroachments are by builders in collusion with surveyors.We’ll recommend booking of criminal cases against such builders and that their properties should be forfeited. We’ll review claims of property owners and take a decision if they have to be compensated.”
The scene at, Kasavanahalli, off Sarjapur Road, looked surreal on Saturday and Sunday. An army of BBMP workers descended and JCBs rolled into the layout, pulling down houses as clueless residents watched. BBMP’s drive to clear encroachments on storm water drains, was incidentally based on a 1904 map of Kasavanahalli village.
The 1904 map, a copy of which is with TOI, is pastoral, with vast swathes of land marked by thickets.
The two lakes at the two extremes of the village -Kasavanahalli Lake to the south and downstream Kaikondarahalli Lake to the north -are linked by a network of drains. The BBMP claims that many residences in Shubh Enclave stand on this network of drains, affecting the flow of rainwater.
“Are you telling us that such an old map, which goes back 113 years, counts even today? The landscape has changed and so has the course of water. How can this be referred to as accurate information strong enough to bring down our homes?
There have been at least three occasions in the past when the survey department has come down here and changed the markings of the storm water drain which passes through the enclave. We don’t know where the drain is,” said a resident, who wanted to remain anonymous.
“There might be over 50 tertiary drains running through this area, and we were handling it pretty well until BBMP interfered and insisted on removing so-called encroachments from these drains as well,” he added.
“The village maps were available on the revenue department website in January this year, and were not accessible in between for rea sons we don’t know. When I checked on Sunday , it still wasn’t working.But today it is up and running smoothly ,” said Sudhir, a member of Bellandur Forum, checked the website frequently .
Hundreds or even thousands of buildings will need to be demolished if BBMP uses village maps as its guide to determine where the drains once where. According to revenue department records, there are 308 villages in BBMP limits including Koramangala and Peenya.
“Where were these maps when officials were handing us occupancy certificates and even A khatas?
Didn’t they know these areas are sensitive zones and we would be sitting on storm water drains?” asked Shanta M, whose house was partially demolished in Bommana halli zone.
AN Yellappa Reddy, environmentalist, said village maps were the only solid proof to show the land many were sitting on is government property. “The village maps are just basic records to prove it is government land. They identify sensitive areas that shouldn’t be diverted for any sort of development. In the old days, locals had identified the sensitive zones and built tanks and storm water drains and valleys after identifying them as hydrological entities, to try and save every drop of water. In 1978, green belt areas were identified and safeguarded from all development.
“Subsequently, the green belt has been tampered with continuously and encroached. The 1904 maps identified everything, including areas earmarked for cattle.Those basic records might not work now, but the government has nothing else to refer to,” he added.
COMMISSIONER BBMP ON DEMOLITION
With demolitions in Bommanahalli, Mahadevapura and Yelahanka igniting public anger, BBMP commissioner N Manjunath Prasad on Monday told the BBMP council the additional chief secretary has started an inquiry against municipal officers who allowed constructions on lakebeds and storm water drains. “All original documents pertaining to constructions on storm water drains are being handed over to the officer who has been asked by the chief minister to conduct the probe. Criminal cases will be filed against officers who sanctioned plans for construction on storm water drains and issued oc cupancy certificates. The exercise will be expanded to other parts of the city,” the commissioner said.
Prasad made the announcement following widespread criticism by corporators and Bommanahalli MLA Satish Reddy of inaction against officers who allowed en croachments to come up on water bodies. “Has a single FIR been filed or any other proceedings initiated against officers who violated norms by giving permission for construction on storm water drains?” Reddy asked. The BBMP chief ad mitted that the BBMP sanctioned plans and gave permissions even after the flood-prone zones were handed over by erstwhile city municipal councils. “Just like builders and encroachers, BBMP officers are equally responsible for the damage we see today . In Kasavanahalli, Mahadevapura, where demolition is going on, 20 metres of SWD was encroached upon, and apartments came up. While some constructions came up with sanction from erstwhile gram panchayats, plans were sanctioned as recently as last year,” he added. Prasad didn’t mention a deadline for completing the investigation.
Mayor BN Manjunath Reddy said they are considering writing to the state government to probe the role of sub-registrars in the large-scale encroachments.
“Sub-registrars must be made accused number 1 in storm water drain cases. How can they allow the sale of such properties to private individuals?” he asked. He denied the civic body has been selective in the demolitions.
“We will not spare anybody and are not yielding to any pressure.Any officer whose guilt is proved will face legal action,” he added.
ANOTHER TRUE STORY
In the same Ashub area, one of the Builders, residing and the native of the same area, Converted the lands and sold the sites. The buyers could not get the sites regularized. Inspite of blanket ban, few owners GOT THE `A`KATHA, from BBMP and have also sold it. Few have built houses and few have built apartments on such sites in Ambalipura and Haralur. Inspite of repeated warning, many have bought properties, as the banks have financed the purchase, especially a state owned bank and another blue bank.
ANOTHER PRESS REPORT
Residents, officials spar over changes in drain alignment
The width of secondary drain that connects the main rajakaluve was five metres until last weekend. On Monday, the residents of Shubh Enclave in Kasavanahalli woke up to a new plan that left them furious.
This is the same area where a posh villa and two buildings under construction were razed on Saturday and Sunday to make way for the stormwater drain from Kasavanahalli to Kaikondrahalli in the Mahadevapura Assembly constituency.
On Monday, there was a heated argument between local residents and officials over the alignment of stormwater drain. Residents of Shubh Enclave, which comprises around 100 houses were angry after officials changed the width of secondary drain from five metres to 7.4 metres. “We are not sure which building will be brought down next. What if the BBMP officials demolish a house without confirming whether it has been built illegally? We do not want to take a chance. We have right to see the village map and cannot depend on the wisdom of one surveyor. The houses have been constructed spending our hard-earned money,” said Vanitha Choonthur, residents’ association member.
“Why are you not sticking to one map? Put the map that you are referring in the public domain? You are changing the alignment of the drain only to favour the rich and powerful,” argued residents.
A BBMP official said that consisting of three secondary drains and two main drains, the rajakaluve connects two interlinking lakes (Kasavanahalli and Kaikondrahalli). Shubh Enclave is located on the downstream. As many as 28 properties including buildings that have illegally come up on the rajakaluve would be cleared during the drive, he added. The demolition drive will resume on Tuesday.
Geetha Pillai, a resident was worried that the officials would mess up with the map to favour the rich. “We will not let our houses being razed unless BBMP officials prove that this is a rajakaluve,” she said.
Ravichandra Reddy, a retired employee was angry when BBMP men went onto demolish his compound wall to save the portion of a posh neighbouring house being razed.
Mahendra Kumar, a software firm employee who lost his posh villa during the drive claimed that his house was demolished to favour the builder. There were similar complaints from residents of Avani Sringeri Nagar in Arakere on re-aligning the drains to favour the powerful.
Meanwhile, BBMP officials said they were going by the village map. The width of rajakaluve varies from different points, from five metres to 20 metres.