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"revenue pockets" - pocket-boroughs of politico's?

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Urban Development

Following are the excerpts from an interview (published in Citizen Matters, for the full text, click here) of the incumbent Congress MLA from BTM layout constituency, who is now seeking re-election from the same constituency:

"Apart Koramangala and 50 % BTM, most of the areas that come under BTM constituency fall under revenue pockets. So the development in the area has been haphazard with most of the areas having narrow roads. In the recent years some of the areas have been facing a shortage of water and since there are a lot of high rises in the area there are some problems with the sanitary system as well".

"Development has been haphazard" is quite an understatement. In a 'revenue pocket', apparently, you can

A) construct/ re-construct as you like here without care in the world for set-back, FSI, fire-safety and such other norms, apart from even basic engineering norms (check this),
B) rear cattle, again without a care for matters like waste disposal, overall hygiene, the traffic problems they cause with being tethered largely on public roads, the rights available to animals under the Animal Protection Act, etc (check this),
C) carry on burying your dead even if in the midst of densely populated high-rise residential areas (check this),
D) block public roads, and carry on any kind of festivities, invariably accompanied by blaring music (even into late hours) - check this (this particular venue was in a BDA layout)
E) build new temples, and expand existing ones (like in the picture below) to aid the process at (d) above.

F) carry on every kind of commercial activity, right on the public roads, blocking up traffic for hours on end - check this

While googling to understand what a "revenue site" is, I came upon the following (full text may be accessed here), which seemed to fit the description best:

"Regularization of revenue sites - This current legislature session may consider amendments to the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, for regularisation of revenue sites (sites formed on agriculture land without land use conversion) in Bangalore and other city corporations. The government banned registration of revenue sites and layout in 2005 and there are around five lakh such unauthorised revenue sites in and around major cities. The Government proposes to bring an amendment to the KLR Act of 1964 to regularize such properties developed before 31-12-2008, by levying a one time penalty. The following properties or lands will not be considered for regularization - Land near High Voltage Electric Poles, Natural rivers, drains, ways, rajakaluve, streams, valleys, CA sites, Roads, Forest and gomala lands etc."

The MLA's assets in the last 5 years have gone up from Rs 8.65 cr to Rs 36.25 cr, which is a substantial increase, even allowing for the Rs 17.25 cr liabilities accrued simultaneously. One can't help but see a link in the growing prosperity of the MLA with the ever- increasing haphazardness of the growth of these revenue pockets. Apparently, these are essentially pocket boroughs of the MLA, with any and every kind of activity (whether legal or not) controlled by him.

And, this is not confined to BTM layout alone. It seems to be more or less a pattern with across the city, with a large section of the MLA's and Corporators deriving their strength from these revenue pockets. And, that being the case, they don't want any change, and have effectively managed to scuttle any effort at 'regularisation'. They are so powerful that, in Madiwala, they even managed to divert the National Highway through adjoining Koramangala - check this.

Muralidhar Rao


murali772's picture

temple route to encroachment

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In Bangalore, we build temples (all in Madiwala) to encroach more and more onto public roads, whereas in Jabalpur, they respectfully re-locate Gods to hospitable locations (check this)

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

cheek by jowl

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This is at the Kamal Bakery junction (Koramangala), where every other single/ two - storey building has been knocked down, and replaced by a 4 (and above) sroreyed building.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Akrama all the way

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Two labourers were killed and two more are feared dead after an under-construction building collapsed in Someshwara Layout in Jayanagar 1st Block near NIMHANS on Monday morning. More than 20 workers also sustained injuries. Sub-standard work and use of spurious material to construct the seven-storey building is said to be the cause for the tragedy. - - -Police said the incident took place around 8.30 am when more than 70 workers started their work at the seven-storey apartment being constructed by Saleem, a builder. Construction began 10 months ago. It is alleged that the builder had taken permission from the authorities to build a two-floor apartment, but built seven instead. - - -A senior officer of fire department said that sub-standard work and lack of any safety measures led to the incident. The land itself was unsuitable for construction, he added. Home Minister K J George, District-in-charge Minister Ramalinga Reddy, Additional Commissioner of Police Kamal Pant, senior officials of the fire department and others  rushed to the spot and supervised the rescue operation. George said, “An investigation will be taken up in this regard and strict action will be initiated against the people responsible for the incident. Complete violation of construction norms and the negligence of engineers and supervisors have led to the mishap.” The Siddapur police registered a case against Saleem, the supervisor, two engineers and a contractor, all of whom are still at large.

For the full report ine New Indian Express, click here.

Excerpts from another report, also from the New Indian Express (the full report may be accessed here)

To send a strong message to people who violate building bylaws with impunity, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is taking up a drive to demolish under-construction buildings which do not comply with the norms. BBMP Commissioner M Lakshminarayana ordered the demolition of the buildings. Even a community hall in Kengeri, which had partially collapsed on August 5 killing three workers, will be demolished. “By suspending officials and demolishing such buildings, we are trying to instil fear among those who do not comply with the norms,” Lakshminarayana told Express. Assistant Engineers Santosh and Panchakshari, who were working at Siddapura ward where the building is located, were suspended from service pending inquiry. The building had three floors which were illegally constructed. “Demolition of illegal buildings is a signal to the builders who are trying to construct extra floors without taking permission (from the BBMP). The Zonal Commissioner, Chief Engineers, Executive Engineers to Assistant Engineers, all should check it.” He said the building was constructed by Saleem, a builder. He normally takes vacant sites and construct apartment complexes. The builder had taken permission to construct an apartment complex with basement, ground floor and two more floors. But he had constructed three more floors without taking permission, he said.

Now, Someshwara layout is like the backyard of these two ministers. In fact, such illegal constructions are quite the norm in major parts of their constituencies too. As such, it can't be that they are not aware of the doings of the likes of Saleem. The question in fact is to what extent are they involved with the Saleems of this world, particularly when they are besides seen to be pushing hard for the passage of the Akrama-Sakrama bill (check this). There obviously being a nexus, can we then expect any more than an eye-wash from the Commissioner's posturings?

Perhaps it's time more of such Citizen's Task Forces got into the act.

Muralidhar Rao
srinidhi's picture

can the state govt act?

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drive to demolish under-construction buildings which do not comply with the norms

Why only under construction uilding? What about the already constructed and violating buildings?
The city is filled with them and all the owners are waiting for the Sakrama door to open..instead all the violators need to be penalized for the mistakes..specifically where it hurts most..
Need to see if the govt does anything at all on this..needs tremendous resolve to do it..lets see if govt has it!
murali772's picture

Here it's a free for all

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Minister TB Jaychandra clarified that buildings built on revenue sites are not eligible under this scheme (Akrama-Sakrama). "That scheme is still pending with the governor.''

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

Have the details of the scheme been shared with the public, yet? Doesn't the government think it important to do so? I wonder if a few more building collapses will make a difference.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

B khata denotes a C grade government

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A ‘B’ khata certificate indicates that the property is not approved by the BBMP, but pays taxes for the civic amenities it enjoys. Taxes paid towards such properties are entered in a register titled B, and hence the name. A ‘B’ khata is not a title deed. Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had given the green signal to the BBMP to issue ‘B’ khata certificates to buildings on revenue land provided with basic amenities like electricity, water and drainage. “This decision will fetch about `1,000 crore for the state exchequer,” he added. - - - - The BBMP will be allowed to issue B khatas only to existing buildings.

Property owners can later obtain A khata certificates by paying penalties and regularising buildings under the upcoming Akrama Sakrama scheme, the minister said.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here.

What about the buildings currently under construction in open violation of all norms? There doesn't seem to be any hurry on the part of the ministers concerned to prevent them inspite of collapses, involving fatalities, right in their backyards.

Siddaramiah's credibility is seriously at stake.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

neta doublespeak

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Nine officials who created fake land documents now face criminal investigation. They are from various government departments and civic agencies, and will be prosecuted along with 38 builders and land grabbers. Disclosing this to reporters on Tuesday, Ramalinga Reddy, Minister In-charge of Bengaluru, said Delhi Public School, Apollo Hospital, and developers such as Mantri, Puravankara and Shobha had built huge structures on government land and lakebeds, and would face action.
For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.
The same Mr Reddy is quoted as saying "We cannot take action against major builders simply because the BJP or the JDS wants. So far, we have not found any big builder encroaching upon any lake bed. If anyone has information, let them provide that to us. We will take it up" (for the full text in the ToI, click here). 
What's one to make of this typical neta doublespeak?
And, while the attention currently is on encroachments on lake-beds, what about the rampant and open "akrama" going on, even as we speak, in the so-called revenue pockets, seen to be patronised largely by the neta's themselves?
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