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Urban local body unleashes ‘terror’ in Bengaluru

ENARADA, Bengaluru, August 12, 2016

Thousands of people who were staying in their homes had to wake up to a rude shock this week when earth excavators came demolishing their homes.

When the residents sought to know as to why were their homes being demolished, they were told of violating the civic rules by constructing their houses on storm water drains! Well, this is the scene in the IT capital of India where the local civic agency-Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has gone on a draconian demolition drive.

demolition drive
Demolition Drive in Doddabommasandra. Photo courtesty: K.Venkatesh

However, what makes the entire eviction drive bad to worse is that the civic agency had not given notice to any of these residents and instead caught them aware by bulldozing the houses. What has pained the residents is the fact that they have been legally staying in their houses by procuring all the relevant documents. They have also been paying the taxes year after year.

Now, one questions, if their houses were illegal, then why did the civic agency collect taxes at the first place and why were electricity, water and sewage connections provided?

The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government defended that their action was to ensure that there was no flooding in Bengaluru during incessant rainfall. However, it is blatantly observed that the Congress and JDS ruled BBMP has been selective and partisan in its approach in the ongoing demolition drive. While the houses belonging to poor and lower middle class have been ear marked for demolition, those palatial mansions and offices belonging to Congress men have been spared.

In some areas, the civic agency is tearing hurry to change the direction of the Raja Kaluve in order to facilitate the builders’ lobby. Even the martyr Lt Col Niranjan Kumar’s (who had laid down his life during the Pathankot terror attack) home wasn’t spared. Many residents had bought lakhs to crores of rupees of loans to buy/construct their property. Now, they not only lost their dream homes but are also forced to continue paying loans despite their homes being bulldozed.

The opposition BJP has come down heavily on the demolition drive saying that it has caused untold hardship to the people, especially to the poor, middle class and lower middle class. The demolition on the pretext of encroachment is unacceptable as these houses have been in existence for more than two decades.

BJP state unit president BS Yeddyurappa said, “It was a heart wrenching scene to see and hear men, women and children screaming and crying inconsolably after their life dreams came crashing down within a few minutes. It is most inhumane to learn that BBMP officials did not give them a few hours of time for these people to remove their belongings methodically and move out to their next place of dwelling. I wonder why and how the BBMP did not show the same zealousness to prevent encroachment by builders obviously with the connivance of the officials.”

He also alleged that these gullible people have been conned by unscrupulous real estate lobby and builders. BBMP officials are equally guilty as no illegal construction or encroachment of drains can take place without their knowledge and consent of officials.

“I demand criminal cases be filed against the insensitive and corrupt officials. Steps must be taken to recover the money from these officials and pay compensation to the people whose houses have been demolished. I demand that the BBMP come out with an exhaustive and comprehensive map of the entire Raja Kaluve in Bengaluru city in order to facilitate the public to know the position before buying properties and start construction,” he added.

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