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.