Demolish the walls of secrecy that facilitate encroachment!

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.

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Encroachment of Bangalore’s lakes continues unabated

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About Ashwin Mahesh 96 Articles
Ashwin Mahesh has been involved in public policy for Bengaluru through his work with the Karnataka government. The views expressed here are his own. He is a member of the Lok Satta party. He is also CEO of Mapunity Information Services, and a director at Oorvani Media, publisher of Citizen Matters and India Together. He is also a visiting faculty with the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore.

1 Comment

  1. Hello,

    How come you are still hoping for some govt to come in power and regularize.

    That was pure crap thoughts.

    Understand that all the world starts getsup every morning thinking how much Vitamin-M I can make during the day………….legally or illegally.

    Even a politician is not contesting because he wants to be a Mahatma. He is doing his best by pumping money to get a chair. On establishing his supremacy on the chair, time starts getting counted………… fast, how soon I can cover my input money +interest and then how much Bonus I can make during the tenure.

    Nobody here is for charity, no one wants his statue to be built on a square. After all that status will be dusted and full of crow-s….

    Come to senses, we as Indians should teach our children what is going around us and not cinderella stories that life is full of roses and you can pluck it whenever you want.

    Another 100 years down the line and Bangalore cant be imagined what it will be. What destruction has happened in last 15 years would not been ever envisaged by the Founder of this city. If he knew, he would have left it like that and we would have still had lots of green grassy plateau full of water lakes, birds, animals, trees, forests and cool peaceful weather.

    Next time you write something, just send it to me for edition (in a positive frame of mind I am requesting). You need people around the city to wake up not politicians.

    Hope I am clear and correct and would request your inputs. If I know 2 things from you, may be someday I can be a good writer as you, but the one who will write at 180 degree angle, i.e second dimension apart.

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