New orders have been issued to all Bengaluru zonal commissioners to aggressively clear encroachments on stormwater drains (SWD) in the city.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) took the decision after severe flooding inundated parts of Bengaluru last week. The BBMP was of the view that encroachments on SWDs and tank beds blocked water drainage routes, resulting in flooding.
The BBMP has appraised chief minister Siddaramaiah of this opinion, and it seems to have been accepted by the powers that be.
Speaking to Asianet Newsable, Manjunath Prasad, BBMP Commissioner, said "I have instructed all eight joint commissioners of the different BBMP zones to carry out demolition drives on encroachments on SWDs to avoid further flooding during heavy rains. The BBMP has identified about 1000 instances of SWD encroachments through revenue department surveyors. The drive will begin on Saturday."
Interestingly, Asianet Newsable has learnt that such demolition drives, to reclaim government land, usually happen on weekends. Municipal authorities have correctly deduced that encroachers cannot halt their efforts through emergency legal stay orders, as the courts do not function on Saturdays and Sundays.
Also, such drives usually begin early in the mornings to surprise encroachers, giving them no time to react. Often, all they end up doing is helplessly watching the bulldozers at work.
When questioned about the fate of those labelled encroachers, City Mayor Manjunath Reddy held residents equally responsible for the mess.
"The owners who bought the land are educated, and they should have verified their documents twice," he said.
One such layout under the scanner is Duo Layout on Hosur Road. The layout was one of the worst affected by the floods, incurring property damages worth close to ₹3 crore.
Earlier, Bengaluru Metropolitan Task Force Police Superintendent Devraj had met residents and informed them about the demolition drive. The officials also told them that some properties in the layout might face demolitions as they block SWDs.
Anand Gopal, a member of the Duo Layout Resident Welfare Association, criticised the BBMP, accusing the organisation of harassing innocent residents for no mistake of theirs.
"The residents brought the land after a government official gave the necessary clearances. From occupancy certificates, deeds and other documents, all were given to us by recognised government bodies. Now, all of a sudden, the government throws its hands up in the air," he said.
"The government is waking up after decades, when most of the disused tanks, culverts and SWDs are already encroached. Why should the innocent suffer now for the oversight of officials several years ago?" Gopal added.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 7:03 PM