It is quite common in Bengaluru for builders and developers to build houses on other people’s lands, or on public lands like lakes. After all, the city used to have more than 500 lakes, and now has only 183. Therefore, we must conclude that the most common activity that occurs on lakes is construction !!
It is also quite common in Bangalore for such things to happen with the full knowledge of the local ward engineer of the BBMP. In theory, this official is responsible for making sure that such encroachments don’t happen, but in practice he is the one facilitating them – either by looking the other way, or by actively fudging public records.
It is further well-known that elected representatives do not try to stop this illegality. Some of them look the other way, but another set of them actually proposes laws and rules that ‘regularise’ such encroachments. They also carefully word the law to make sure than none of the officials responsible for inaction are ever held responsible.
With all these things known, the inevitable happens. Buildings are constructed on encroached lands, and then sold to gullible buyers, who have no knowledge of the deep golmal involved in this racket. It would be safe to assume that every community built in the last 10-15 years has gone through some kind of intense conflict between builders and home-buyers.
And then one fine day, the BBMP / BDA decides to ‘recover’ the lost lands by ‘demolishing’ the illegal constructions. This too is an eyewash – because it is well known, once again, that this is not done in a thoughtful manner, to protect the interest of victims and hold builders and developers responsible for what they’ve done. Instead, this is just a minor show of strength, usually to settle some local dispute, or satisfy a judge in some ongoing case. There isn’t even a pretence to set things right.
All this is well-known. What is not known, and for which the public waits endlessly, is when we will get a government that is serious about the law, committed to honest administration, and is more than a dalal in the black market of democracy in urban areas.
Make properly surveyed records of land ownership public. Make building plan approvals public. Make the name of the approving engineer public in each instance, and fix the official responsibility for illegalities upon him. In short, demolish the walls of secrecy that protect this racket. And then there will be no need to demolish walls that are built upon encroached lands.