Bangaloreans have witnessed the rapid, unbridled and haphazardous growth of the city leading to a great stress on the inadequate infrastructure. Parks, lakes, nallahs and public spaces have been encroached upon by the land mafia. The police also have been burdened with the burgeoning problems of maintaining law and order and unmanageable traffic. The IT boom has contributed in no small measure towards the degradation of ffice Bangalore.
The Revised Comprehensive Development Plan for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comhttp://www.rtiindia.org/forum/ /><st1:City w:st=Bangalore</st1:City>. The social and economical disparities between the rich and poor has widened resulting in muggings, thefts and murders. The land prices have soared skyward and consumerism has become the order of the day. The greed and materialistic attitudes of the people have made them exploit the common facilities they enjoy at the cost of others. One important result of this abuse is the unchecked change in land use pattern. Pure residential areas have turned into commercial zones with offices, shops, malls and commercial complexes coming up thus overloading the crumbling infrastructure apart from adding to the traffic mess. BDA has contributed to promoting these dreadful conditions much against the spirit of the revised Comprehensive Development Plan of 1995 envisaged for <st1:City w:st=" /><st1:City w:st="on">Bangalore</st1:City> (Zoning of Land Use & Regulations) approved by the Government of Karnataka vide GO No. HUD 139 MNJ 94 dated 05/01/1995 as a part of the revised CDP was “….expected to help in creating a healthy urban environment to enable citizens of <st1:City w:st="on"><ST1Bangalore</ST1</st1:City> to live with comfort and to promote the beauty of the city” as elucidated in the preface by Dr.A. Ravindra, the then Chairman of BDA.
The booklet issued by BDA says “In order to promote public health, safety and the general social welfare of the community, it was necessary to apply reasonable limitations of the use of land and buildings. This is to ensure that the most appropriate economical and healthy development of the city takes place in accordance with the land use plan…… Zoning protects residential areas from the harmful invasion of commercial and industrial uses and at the same time promotes the orderly development of industrial and commercial areas. By regulating the spacing of buildings, adequate light, air, protection from fire etc., can be provided. It prevents over-crowding in buildings and land and thus ensures adequate facilities and services”.
I had filed an application with BDA under RTI Act on 27/12/2006 seeking various details pertaining to the permission accorded by BDA for land use change (during the period January 2000 to December 2006) in violation of the zonal regulations in <st1:City w:st="on"><ST1Bangalore</ST1</st1:City>. A sketchy, incomplete and evasive reply was provided vide letter dated 19/01/2007. The details I had sought were not given although RTI Act clearly states in clause 7 (9) that information should be provided to the applicant in the form it is sought.
I was then constrained to keep a tab on the notices issued by BDA in newspapers seeking objections from public for change in land use on the basis of applications made by land owners. During the first six months of this year (January to June 2007) BDA has issued 87 notices. One can well imagine the catastrophe due to such land use changes which have been permitted during the period January 2000 to December 2006 and this is showing on the streets of <st1:City w:st="on">Bangalore</st1:City> and crime records in the police department.
On July 24th 2007 (based on a complaint by me) the Karnataka Information Commission directed BDA to provide all the details sought by me free of cost within 30 days. The KIC also stated that the information ws of "public importance" and directed BDA to post the details on its website. I have received the details which run into many pages. It is seen that BDA has permitted 925 cases (from January 2000 to December 2006 and another 87 cases from January 2007 to June 2007) of land use change (Residential to Commercial, Park to Commercial, Residential to Industrial etc). I am compiling this data and will be submitting a report to the Chief Minister and Governor of Karnataka apart from sending it to all the friends in the media to let everybody know what BDA has done for the haphazard growth of Bangalore.
Instead of being a regulator, BDA has become a facilitator for land use change much against the contents of the CDP. The demolition drama conducted by BDA against the alleged violators of zoning regulations was just a prelude to the process of legalizing the irregularities. It is clear that BDA is adding to the woes of Bangaloreans by tacitly agreeing to change in land use (for a price, of course) and asking citizens to object such change. This appears to be big business and BDA must be making lot of money at the cost of Bangaloreans and no wonder these details are not revealed under RTI!
Why should BDA shift it’s responsibility onto the public? Is it not BDA’s duty to ensure proper implementation of the zoning and land use regulations? Is not BDA violating it’s own CDP by permitting harmful invasion of commercial and industrial buildings in residential areas and public places? Is BDA promoting beauty of <st1:City w:st="on"><ST1Bangalore</ST1</st1:City> and enabling citizens to live in comfort? Is BDA contributing to the chaos reigning supreme in <ST1<st1:City w:st="on">Bangalore</st1:City></ST1?
I am happy to say that no more notices have been issued from June 2007 by BDA seeking objections from Bangaloreans for land use change!
I am thankful to KIC for making this happen.
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