While BBMP has begun the demolitions, it has stopped short of taking a more important corrective measure – acting against officials who allowed these illegal constructions to come up! It’s far easier for BBMP, which has now identified the encroachments, to go after officials who permitted this illegality. Building plan approval, commencement certificate, completion certificate and issuance of Khata are all documents at various stages which the government agencies formally approve. In spite of these checks, if illegal structures have come up on lakes, rajakaluves, other drains and the buffer zone around them, it tells a lot about the ability of these agencies to govern our city. Citizens are also pained to see that some big encroachments have still not been acted upon. Big builders who have made encroachments their bread and butter should be summarily dealt with. Bengaluru has scores of activists and lake conservationists who have written letter after letter to various authorities bringing to their notice such violations, but with very little success. The unholy nexus of builders, real estate mafia, officials and the elected representatives have brought our city to its knees. Unless this unholy nexus is dealt with, mere demolition will only be half justice done.
It is also important now that all the city agencies come together with BBMP and ensure no such illegal approvals are given in future. One important feature required on these websites is a citizen-friendly interface with an ability to choose at the individual plot level. This requires maps of lakes, drains – primary, secondary and tertiary water bodies along with buffer zones being easily available in each of their offices and on their website. Even the Keyhole Markup Language files that are available on the Karnataka Land Revenue Department site doesn’t clearly classify the drains and tanks owing to which people have to arrive at their own interpretation of terms such as streams. Often, citizens have to run from pillar to post to identify whether a property they are buying is violating the laws of the land or not. In spite of many years of an uphill battle demanding the ward committees, the continued delay by the government to have them in place only shows lack of commitment towards transparent functioning, especially of our urban local bodies.