Bengaluru Battles Floods, Demolishment Drives And A Whole Lot Of Controversy

The recent rains in Bengaluru had everyone blaming civic authorities for the mess it caused in the city. The Bruhut Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) has decided that it won’t take matters lightly with a massive demolition drive seeing at least 100 homes being razed down so far. But this has set off controversy with critics accusing the government of evading its responsibilities and acting in haste. .

What’s this all about?

Incessant rainfall saw various areas in Bengaluru flooded over the past couple of weeks. People were even seen fishing on the streets as the city’s lakes burst their boundaries and turned streets into rivers. The BBMP blamed the mess on illegal construction over storm-water drains (feeder canals), that blocked the free flow of water into lakes which in turn had caused the flooding.

What’s the BBMP’s plan?

The BBMP wants to demolish these structures and says it will prevent future flooding while acting as a deterrent against more illegal construction. But in a twist, the people living in these structures claim to have got all necessary approvals from the authorities before they went ahead and built their homes. However, the BBMP says it is working according to official revenue maps in order to highlight and demolish illegal structures.

So why are residents angry?

Strangely enough, village maps dating back to 1908 are being used by the revenue department to justify the demolition. Residents claim that these maps do not show the ground realities. They also accuse officials of granting them the approval to construct their homes, only to now turn around and say it is illegal. The BBMP commissioner has agreed that some of his officials are at fault for allowing this to happen and has promised strict action against them. A list containing the names of 20 officials has already been forwarded to the Chief Minister and they could be suspended from service. The government says retired officers will not be spared either

What’s the way forward?

For now, the BBMP has given orders to area engineers to check encroachments in Mahadevpura, Bomanahalli and Yelahanka, all of which are low lying areas and were the worst affected during the rains. And in spite of the protests, the civic agency has said it will continue the demolishment drive. Some residents approached the Karnataka High Court for help, but even the court has refused to halt the ongoing demolishment.

Reporter : Stacy Pereira
Web Editor : Nikhil Narayan Sivadas

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