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BBMP Encroachment Demolition Drive, Sarjapura ORR - Bengaluru, India

On Monday,  Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)  officials set out straight for the encroachment demolition drive in and around the re...

On Monday, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials set out straight for the encroachment demolition drive in and around the region of Mahadevapura to Sarjapura ORR belt. To  much of their surprise & shock, along the marquee of tech parks and plush gated communities, BBMP officials found that at many of the places the complainants themselves were among the encroachers of the storm-water drains in Bengaluru's Mahadevapura-IT corridor that faced some of the worst water-logging in the last week.

The team of the BBMP initiated the exercise at eight places, which were allegedly causing flooding in and around Bellandur in Mahadevapura zone. BBMP authorities who were earlier accused of going weak on the rich and powerful, have now started clearing the encroachments without any hesitation.

After Chief Minister Sri Basavaraj Bommai himself ordering the demolition drive of the encroached storm-water water path, who was also under the pressure of the ORRCA, to resolve the encroachments which is the root cause of the devastating floods that has been happening so far. However, experts also say silt accumulation and encroachments of these drains are the biggest cause of flooding and that is also quite true, but to be noted it is not the only truth.

Amongst the encroachers included were, Bagmane Tech Park, Columbia Asia Hospital, Purva Paradise, Wipro, Rainbow Drive, RMZ Ecospace, Gopalan Enterprises, Divya School, New Horizon College, Adarsh Developers, Epsilon, DivyaSree 77, Prestige Group, Salarpuria Group and Nalapad, according to the BBMP notified developed properties.

These entities have been said to have encroached upon somewhere between 10 guntas and 50 guntas of the SWD land in and around places of "Mahadevapura, Doddakannahalli, Hoodi, Junnasandra, Bellandur, Sonnehalli, R Narayanapura, Ramagondanahalli, Kadubeesanahalli, Marathahalli, Challaghatta, Devarabesanahalli and Yemalur", BBMP officials said. Some of them have encroached on the stormwater drain in 13 different survey numbers, officials said. 

Some of the most abiding images of the flooding was the waterlogged Outer Ring Road (ORR) near Ecospace. Some of the luxury villas costing upto Rs.10 crores, that are also included built on lands that were once stormwater drains. Rainbow Drive layout was one of the worst-hit areas as the layout was the lowest amongst all other neighbouring developed places who had raised their ground level to higher by filling land, leaving the layout as a water hole where boats were used on its streets to rescue its sinking residents.

The CM said there will be no partisanship in the drive to remove the alleged encroachment of the stormwater drains that were said to be majorly responsible for the floods in Bengaluru recently following heavy downpour.

"I have given a clear direction to the officials to remove the encroachment whoever has built structures on the stormwater drains and interrupted the flow of rainwater. This I have made very clear on day one," he told reporters.

When asked if big companies were found to be encroaching the stormwater drains, Sri Bommai said: 

"There is no question of any partisanship on the issue, whoever they are, we will not spare them. Everybody suffered during floods, be it IT-BT people or the common people."

CM Bommai was convinced to clear encroachments, as he felt the need of it.

"Houses in low-lying areas too have faced problems, the drive which has started will not stop," he added.

CM said it has obtained directions from the court, upon to a query whether the government will file a caveat in the court.

"Also, we will give all the information to the courts. This time we will carry out an anti-encroachment drive on a big scale".

BBMP is committed to rebuild the storm-water drains on these recovered properties that are either vacant or where temporary structures have come up.

"If the property is inhabited, the tahsildar has been authorised to issue a notice under Section 104 (summary eviction of person unauthorisedly occupying land) of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act," a senior BBMP officer in charge of the encroachment eviction drive said.

Due to old maps from 1904, the BBMP were accused to have been too soft on the developers & builders due to unclear documentation.

"There was also a lack of clarity because some of the builders and tech parks had received land from the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) along the drains," an official said.

As Sri. Bommai is said to have given clear instructions to the BBMP for removing all encroachments that are blocking the drains. The internal directions were given when engineers brought to Bommai's notice the names of big names. 

A spokesperson for Wipro said the company has not received any notice from the BBMP. "Wipro abides by the laws of every jurisdiction where it does business and adheres to the highest standards of integrity. All Wipro buildings are as per pre-approved plans," the spokesperson said.

On Monday, the BBMP cleared encroachments from 15 places in its Mahadevapura zone, which was the worst hit by the flooding. Almost all zonal officers were on the ground, supervising the eviction drive. Some of the places where the encroachments were cleared were AECS Layout (three buildings, four compound walls), Challaghatta (vacant land, compound walls of a school and an apartment) and Basavanapura in KR Puram (a covered slab built by Cambridge College).

ORRCA had claimed that the IT and banking companies incurred a loss of about Rs 225 crore on a single day last week, as the employees were stuck in the flooded streets and were not able to render their work either from home or from office.

Meanwhile, the Outer Ring Road Companies' Association (ORRCA) said they started their offices on Monday as usual as the rains & the flooding both receded, and there was no water logging on the roads or in the offices.

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