Demolition Drive undertaken by BBMP:

‘Desperate times call for desperate measures.’ – Obert Skye

So, you have been hankering to provide shelter to your family by having a house of your own. You finally track down one little pretty home that meets all your requirements. Next, you hire a lawyer to peruse all the documents and on getting a favorable opinion since the documents look intact, you go in for registration. The sub-registrar readily registers the property, the corporation collects tax from you for decades and you believe that you have a house of you own with all your belongings intact forever. Sure, sounds like a happily ever after. Sadly, that is not the case for a lot of owners at Bangalore these days.

BBMP has suddenly shown robustness to mow down all buildings that are illegal. This is owing to the recent floods in parts of Bangalore after the heavy downpour. It has found 1923 encroachments. With this houses that have been built on rajakaluves (storm water drains), lake beds etc.  are being razed down by the BBMP since a few days now. Almost 50-100 houses are being knocked out everyday.

While, on one hand getting rid of illegal buildings is boosterish, mowing down houses of innocent people who believed their houses to be legal is dejecting, especially when the BBMP has washed its hands off paying them compensation.

While the BBMP officials claimed on various news channels that a notice had been sent to the concerned persons about the demolition 6 months in advance. Several citizens complained that they did not know about their homes being on radar until a couple of days before the demolition.

Law on Demolition:

Even though Section 288D of the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act allows Commissioner to remove encroachment without notice, the situation here is slightly different as the Corporation has been collecting taxes from the owners for all these years. Hence, demolition of properties without notice is a violation of Article 300A of the Constitution that protects a person’s property.

However, when Nama Krishnaiah, filed a petition challenging the demolition of his property at Kasavana Halli at Varthur, Hobli, it was rejected by Justice L. Nagaswamy. He observed that, “A stay cannot be given because it will stall the operation virtually. The demolition drive was launched at the instance of a division bench of this court to retain the rajakaluves and lakes. I do not find any arbitrary action by the BBMP,”

Some of the big properties demolished:

The BBMP demolished a few of its own offices in Srinagar such as the Engineer Office and the health officers’ offices. There are allegations against BBMP that they have only gone after small and medium encroachers. However, today on August 17th, 2016, BBMP targeted the Purvankara apartment complex called Purva Skydale opposite Haralur Lake, Bangalore, as there were complaints that the apartment was built on storm water drain, by diverting the flow and narrowing it.

Criticisms faced by BBMP over the Demolition Drive:

A.T. Ramaswamy Committee had submitted a report in 2007 that out of the 41,303 acres encroached in Bangalore Urban District, 10,472 acres of lake bed had been encroached by private and government agencies. The Koliwad Committee had also released a list of big builders and politicians. However, 20,000 acres of lands that were reclaimed by BDA and BBMP belonged to only slum dwellers and middle class residents.

Moreover, after plenty of pleading, BBMP has finally released 1923 maps with storm water drains. BBMP Special Commissioner R. Manoj said that the geographic information based maps will soon be uploaded.

However, the maps released by BBMP are said to be confusing and unreliable. It shows how the lakes are connected but does not show the storm water drains in between the lakes. With this, BBMP’s motive is questioned, as apart from failure to target properties belonging to big builders and government officers, the revenue department did not have the survey details.

All said and done, it is high time the encroachments were dealt with suitably in order to curb the rampant manner in which the city is being devastated, what with ever-increasing numbers of illegal buildings coming up and brazen flouting of planning. However, the manner in which it is done needs to be looked into.

Demolition Drive in other Countries:

This course has been adopted by other countries also, such as USA, Lebanon, China, Egypt, etc. In fact, in USA the courts have often upheld the constitutionality of laws providing for demolition of illegal buildings. There are ordinances that have been passed in this respect. There is also a Uniform Code that lays down 17 conditions that permit demolition.

In 2013, more than 500 houses were demolished in Nashville and there has been a case quite similar to the martyr case in Bangalore. A US Navy veteran’s house was pulled down at West Hempstead by the New York town when he was at Florida for a surgery. He has entered into a long legal battle with the town.


However, the BBMP needs to execute its drive after meticulous deliberation. Innocent owners that have lived in the properties for years believing it to be legal need to be compensated. Properties on environment sensitive areas must be the main targets. In fact, even before buildings are demolished, the officers who have sanctioned building plans need to be brought to book as they are the root cause of the entire fiasco. The nexus between corrupt politicians, builders and revenue officers should be brought to the forefront.

Also, big builders should be targeted before innocent citizens. After taking hold of builders that have encroached lands, the flat owners must be compensated by such builders before the building itself is mowed down. Along with bringing the culprits to book, justice must be served to the innocents.

Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia

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