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Building law violations PIL

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The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice B V Nagarathna on Monday issued a notice to Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in response to a PIL. Petitioners Sathya Achayya and others have sought directions for framing a procedure for the systematic monitoring of construction of buildings to check violation of norms.

The petitioners alleged that the authorities have not taken any steps despite the building mafia indulging in formation of illegal layouts and selling sites to gullible public. The procedure to be formed should have steps for a periodic inspection of every construction site after the building plan is sanctioned, they stated.


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

Kudos to Sathya Achayya for pursuing this matter relentlessly. From Prajagalu's side let's extend fullest support to her by recording all such violations on this blog.

The government has been repeatedly mooting its Akrama-Sakrama proposal - check here. And each time, it has had to put it hold because of opposition from the city civil society. If the government/ BBMP wants the city civil society to even consider extending co-operation, in the matter of Akrama-Sakrama, it has perhaps to first look at implementing the suggestions made in this PIL. 

Muralidhar Rao

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murali772's picture

Akrama by a BBMP official

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While this G+4 building, along Temple Trees avenue, Kaveri Layout in Koramangala (check here for exact location), which even a school kid will list as in violation of every conceivable law - set-back, FSI, fire-safety, encroachment onto the Kaluve, etc, is typical of the many such "akrama buildings" across Bengaluru, what is most significant about this one is that the owner is none other than the erstwhile Koramangala sub-division AEE, S H Pujari - check this report in the Bangalore Mirror.

Following a complaint by local residents, the Upa Lokayukta issued demolition orders, against which Mr Pujari has now managed to obtain an injunction from the City Civil Court. The Upa Lokayukta has in turn directed the BBMP Commissioner to have the injunction vacated and execute his order.

Subsequently, Mr Pujari managed to get re-posted to PWD, his parent body, apparently to preempt any official action against him, going by this Bangalore Mirror report.
 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Circular issued by BBMP administrator

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The text of the circular reads as below:

Many citizens complain regarding illegal constructions and construction in violation of sanctioned plan. These involve not leaving sufficient setback on all sides, constructing additional floors without plan sanction, not leaving parking space etc.
A comprehensive circular has been issued on 7/8/2015 http://bbmp.gov.in/…/C…/fd545cf2-4b44-4470-9633-eb825d39b831
giving instructions to the concerned AE, AEE on the action to be taken in such cases.
This involves three types of action
1. Action under Sec 321 of the KMC Act directing the owner to stop construction in case of violation, and for demolition in case he continues with the unauthorised deviation or construction.
2. Writing to BESCOM and to BWSSB to disconnect electricity and water supply and not to give permanent connections.
3. Warning the concerned BBMP registered Architect, Engineer and Supervisor to advise the building owner to remove about the plan violation. In case they fail to stop then further action would be taken against the Architect, Engineer and Supervisor as per Building Bye Law IV-7.1 to cancel their registration.
Citizens can lodge their complaint with 22660000 or bbmp.sahaaya.in and also request the jurisdictional AE and AEEs to take action in such cases as per Circular dated 7/8/15.
They can escalate their complaint to the higher officers in case of inaction.
bbmp.gov.in

 
The question that arises is what does a citizen do when it is a BBMP official himself violating all the rules.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

the extent of the rot

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In what appears to be an act of vengeance, an Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has served a ‘building plan violation’ notice to an elderly woman Satya Achayya.

Incidentally, Satya Achayya is one of the petitioners to file public interest litigation in the Karnataka High Court against the rampant building plan violations.

The AEE served the notice based on two RTI applications filed by Syed Sanaulla and Syed Javid Khadir. The duo filed identical RTI applications on a single day seeking the sanctioned building plan and licence for construction of house number 17, owned by Satya Achayya, located on 6 Cross, Nandidurga Extension, Jayamahal in the City.

Based on the RTI query, the AEE has asked Achayya to submit the licence and the sanctioned building plan within three days of receiving the notice or else he will be forced to act against her under the Karnataka Municipal Corporation (KMC) Act.

Baffled by the tone and tenor of the notice, Achayya replied to the notice stating that the building was constructed by her late father K C Achayya in the 1960s and since then there has been no construction activity on the property. Elaborating further, she said, “As such, the house was constructed before the KMC Act, 1976 came into force.”Achayya in her letter to the AEE further stated, “The two RTI queries you have attached to your notice do not state that any construction is going on in the property.”


For the full text of the report in the Deccan Herald, click here.

After failing to get a proper response from the BBMP AEE, or his colleagues or seniors, to her repeat complaints against the rampant byelaw violations all around her 50+ year old house in Benson Town, when she files a PIL, this kind of an audacious response from the AEE, shows the extent to which the BBMP has come to be in the grip of the mafia, with the obvious blessings of the politicos, perhaps even at the highest level.

And, mind you, this is not the first time. This is more or less a repeat of another witch-hunt, carried out by another BBMP AEE, against three Koramangala residents, who took up the issue of an illegal eatery in their neighborhood, described more fully here. This is even as the very same AEE was himself constructing a building, in the ward under his jurisdiction, in total violation of every possible building by-law, all of which has been brought out in my post of 16th July (scroll above).

Violations naturally go hand in hand with poor quality, leading to the kind of mishaps that occured, in the not too distant past, in the backyard of two of our senior cabinet ministers, resulting in quite a few fatalities even - check here. All the same, none of it seems to matter to the people involved, apart from the theatrics on display immediately after the event.

Obviously, things have gone beyond all limits. And, unless the city Civil Society intervenes in the matter at least now, in some effective way, there's very little hope for the city.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Uphaar and more waiting to happen in our very backyard

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Based on a high court direction, the fire and emergency services department had begun inspecting buildings. In all, 18,442 high-rises were identified in Karnataka and of these 17,547 were in Bengaluru. In the first phase, 2,205 buildings were physically inspected of which 1,216 were found to have violated norms.

"As per rules, before constructing a building, a no-objection certificate has to be obtained from the department which will check if the blueprint complies with safety requirements. Once construction is over, officials will inspect and verify whether the buildings have been built following these plans. Then a clearance certificate is issued. These 1,216 buildings have violated norms," said MN Reddi, director general, fire and emergency services.

The buildings will be given some time to rectify their problems. Even after the allotted time, if they don't comply with norms, a government order will be issued to cut the essential services.


For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.

Now, each of the 'akrama' buildings in Satya Achayya's neighbourhood (check my post of 1st Sept, scrolling above), about which she has complained to the concerned authorities, is apparently over 15M tall, and hence in need of fire department clearance. The one constructed by the BBMP AEE, referred to in my post of the 16th July, is most certainly over 15M tall. Very obviously, all of these have been constructed based on a 'contruction plan', as different from a 'sanctioned plan'. One wonders if these find place in the list of 1,216 buildings found by the fire department to be in violation of the norms. Either way, there's absolutely no scope for rectification in each of these cases - they have just to be demolished. Will the fire department ever get down to doing that? Unless they do, many more of Carlton, Uphaar (Delhi), and our own 'Someshwara Layout' (in the so-called revenue pockets, in the very backyard of two of our cabinet ministers - check here) are all waiting to happen.

One hopes the no-nonsense DG will pro-actively look into these matters, lest his department be found fault with when, god forbid, a mishap occurs.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

court issues directions

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In another PIL, a group of citizens had sought compulsory inspection of property before granting sanction for plan, particularly multi-storey structures, to ascertain whether the existing infrastructure is sufficient to accommodate such structures, and for a detailed guidelines for the process of plan sanction.

As the counsel for civic agencies and the State admitted that there can be no two opinions that building bye-laws must be strictly complied with, the Bench disposed of the petition while directing authorities “to implement the building bye-laws strictly, in accordance with law”.


For the full text of the report in The Hindu, click here.

It has now to be examined as to how best to put the judgment to use in curbing the rampant akrama going on all around the city.
 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Court directs; neta's mis-direct

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The High Court order may be accessed here. The operative part reads, as below:

"The advocates representing the state, BBMP, BDA, KSPCB jointly submit that there can be no two opinions that the building bye-laws must be strictly complied with. We record their statemnents and direct the authorities to implement the building bye-laws strictly in accordance with the law."

Now, unmindful of all of that, and even the UpaLokAyukta order to demolish the building itself (refer my post of 16th July, scrolling above), BESCOM is all set to provide power supply to the building, pertinent documentation details being as below:

"Quotation  dated 19. 09. 2015; AE (E) AT-170 10.1.SC / 75630/ Rt No 28962.8590358 29/10/15; Estimate Sanctioned 7,71,888 /-; (Title on document): Arranging power supply to an extent of load 50W Domestic purpose in favour of Sri Pujari SH No 20/1, Kavery Layout, Srinivagilu, Bangalore, Austin Town O and M Unit, in S3 Subdivision, (Under Self Execution)".

Can there be any doubt that it couldn't have happened without the intervention at the highest political level?
 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

forget fear of law; there's total contempt for it

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Facing such a situation, Prashanth Rao, a resident of I Main, I Block, Thyagarajanagar, south Bengaluru, has been sitting in front of the BBMP headquarters near NR Square close to four hours every day for the past two months with a banner. It reads: "BBMP, take action against the illegal building being built by my neighbour."He sits on the same spot daily, drawing the attention of hundreds of commuters and officials, but in vain. "Two years ago, my neighbour started constructing a seven-storey building even though clearance was given only for three floors. I have gone from door to door in BBMP and complained to officials, from the commissioner to the ward-level engineer, but nobody has taken me seriously. So for the past two months I have been sitting with a banner here,"said Prashanth.

"The road in front of our house is 5-metre wide and the illegal construction is almost 21 metres tall. The fire brigade issued a report that the construction is illegal and there is a case before the court where there is a prayer to legalize the building,"he added.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

There are hundreds of cases like this across Bengaluru, with the one cited in my post of 16th July, '15, being constructed by none less than a BBMP official himself. Even that may not be quite new. But, the difference is that, whereas in the past such practices were carried on "benami", now it's carried on in the open, with all the records being very much in the official's name itself. There's absolutely no fear of the law; rather, what we see is total contempt.

Unfortunately, the court ruling in the PIL hasn't been of much help. May be the focus was wrong. Whatever, such open violations continuing unchecked doesn't augur well for the country's democratic functioning, and as such, it becomes incumbent on the Civil Society to take up a crusade against it - nothing less will do.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

KAT - a refuge for akramists?

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Many builders in the city routinely violate BBMP’s byelaws. Usually, neighbours gossip and crib about it, and get on with their lives. Not so, with the Residential Welfare Association of Bangalore East (REWABE). They have been fighting it for the past three years in court and, they went a step further, and took to educating potential investors/buyers against flats in the ‘rogue’ buildings.

Their strategy is working. There are fewer buyers for these flats.

Two buildings on Hutchin’s Road and another on McPherson Road have exceeded the two-floor limit, claim the association. There also isn’t enough space between them and the adjacent buildings.

The association initially wrote letters to the ward’s assistant engineer. The officials would visit the spot, acknowledge the violation and issue notices. “Seven assistant engineers have been transferred over the past three years,” says Indira Arun, secretary of REWABE. In 2013, four sets of letters were sent to the assistant engineer, executive engineer and joint commissioner of BBMP. ”We have never received any written communication from them,” she says.


Through an RTI petition, they later retrieved the sanctioned plans of the constructions. “We bring to your notice that upon enquiry with your office, we were afforded a viewing of the licence plan, but even to the untrained eye, it is blatantly evident that the setbacks have not been maintained,” the letter sent to the builders reads. All the cases are currently pending with the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal. “However, the BBMP lawyers have been evading the hearings despite having agreed to help. Now, we conduct seminars to caution investors,” Indira adds.

The association members then approached Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy, who sent a town planning executive to take stock of the violations. However, nothing was done after that. Every four months, the cases come up for hearing, but are stalled because BBMP lawyers claim to have misplaced the files. “One of the building’s residents is having difficulty selling it as it is under litigation. Another is a commercial space and they are not bothered about it,” says Indira.


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

Kudos to REWABE for putting up the relentless fight. Perhaps, a strategy other RWA's could also follow. But, the more important question is how is it that the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal is even admitting these cases, when even prima facie the illegalities are so glaring? As for the minister, less said the better.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

no action against gross building law violators?

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A massive six-storey structure coming up on 13 acres of land on Kasavanahalli main road in Bellandur Ward limits - construction for which started in 2013 - is yet to get its building plan sanctioned. The land belongs to Bengaluru-based Karnataka Reddy Jana Sangha, a community association that boasts of powerful and influential Reddys - including transport minister Ramalinga Reddy.

- - - "The KRJS has written to the BDA's town planning cell saying approval must be given to the project as it was discussed during a meeting with Transport minister Ramalinga Reddy and BDA commissioner at the latter's chamber in 2013," she continued.


For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the report in the Bangalore Mirror, click here.

Now, why is the demolition exercise restricted just to encroachments into lakes and Rajakaluve's? Aren't the 'mega' building law violations in each of the cases cited in this blog serious enough to warrant similar action on the part of the BBMP? Does the CM want to take note?
    
Now, another New Indian Express report (accessible here) has stated that “As many as 368 builders, 13 politicians and 71 civic officials are involved in the encroachment of 75 per cent of the 1,500 acres of storm water drains and water bodies,” he told reporters, after releasing the encroachers’ names.

Now, one politico, has clearly been named in the ToI report cited above. More importantly, he held the city development portfolio for long (and holds it now too, even if temporarily). Shouldn't the CM be making him accountable?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

our neta-babu lot any less culpable than Pak jihadists?

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One more body has been recovered from the debris, raising the death toll to six people, in the Bellandur building collapse incident.

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

Following are the excerpts from another report in a subsequent edition of NIE (for the full text, click here)

Shell out a minimum of Rs 2 lakh to grease palms if a building is being constructed in violation of the BBMP-approved plan. The authorities will happily look away. This is the sorry state of affairs across the city.

When Express spoke to a few builders, it was learnt that engineers and corporators work hand in glove. In case of a commercial building, one has to pay Rs 4-5 lakh per floor. For a residential building, it is Rs 2-3 lakh.

A well-known builder said, “Although the BBMP engineer is aware that a builder is constructing a floor without sanction, he will wait till the construction is irreversible and then inspect the site. He will tell the owner that a notice for violations will be served and the building will be demolished. The owner would get in touch with an influential person who knows the engineer. This person would negotiate a price and work will continue.”

Another builder said, “Sometimes the MLA and the corporator will guide you to pay some amount. The bribe is shared by all, including the engineer and corporator.”


BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad, however, assured that they are taking precautions.  He has proposed amendment to the Karnataka Municipal Corporation (KMC) Act to bring in a clause for three months’ imprisonment for BBMP officers who connive to allow irregularities.

- - - Apart from suspending the two BBMP officers and filing a criminal case against the builder, we have asked the ward engineers to inspect all the under construction buildings and submit a report in 7-10 days.”


How less culpable are our neta's and babu's for the death of the six unfortunate victims (as also the many more that have preceded them) than the Hizbul Mujahideen jihadists who killed 18 of our sleeping soldiers in Uri? Shouldn't the nation be rising in anger against such criminal acts of theirs, as they are beginning to in the case of the killing of our jawans?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

proposing a "akramaditya" contest

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Work on demolishing the five-storey under-construction building at Ejipura, which tilted on Wednesday due to a weak foundation, is under way. Police have taken up a criminal case against Ramesh, owner of the titled building, based on a complaint lodged by the owner of the adjacent building which suffered damage. As a precautionary measure, the BBMP had evacuated five families from the neighbouring structure on Wednesday.
 
- - - Meanwhile, transport minister and local legislator Ramalinga Reddy said he had arranged for temporary accommodation for the five evacuated families a t NGV Club, near Ejipura. "I have instructed BBMP to take stringent action against Ramesh. The official concerned will file a criminal case against the building owner," said Reddy.
 
For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.
 
Perhaps, BTM layout Assembly constituency and adjoining areas are the most notorious for construction illegalities compared to any other in the city, which is reflected in the local MLA's score in the matter of "facilitating illegal construction" in a survey conducted by ToI in Oct '14 - check here. May be I should recommend to ToI (or, Namma Bengaluru Foundation) to do such a survey each year, and award the 'winner' the title of "Akramaditya" for the year. 
 
Following are the excerpts from a related report in The Hindu (for the full text, click here):
 
The buildings around the five-storey building in Ejipura that tilted dangerously are also under the scanner. After a spot inspection on Friday, Transport Minister R. Ramalinga Reddy instructed officials to issue notices to other ‘illegal’ buildings in the vicinity, besides recommending civic utilities to cut off supply of electricity and water.
 
That apart, Mr. Reddy is likely to recommend action against the jurisdictional officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for allowing illegal structures to come up in the densely populated narrow by-lanes of the area.
 
- - - He also said that the building owner’s relative had come to a settlement with the tenants of the neighbouring building. 
 
Now, for all of the drama staged over the past few days, very likely a "settlement" will be arrived at with the builder, including of the quiet burial of the case, and everything will be forgotten in a matter of another few days. With elections coming up, this mishap (can't quite call it that) also provides an opportunity for the politico's involved to collect funds from owners of "akrama" buildings in the neighbourhood. This would of course be on top of what had already been collected at the time of "seeking their blessings" before the construction started.
 
Fortunately, nobody died this time around. But, scrolling above, you'll see how these are regular features, particularly in this part of the city, and given the total contempt for the law, more such occurances are inevitable.   
 
Muralidhar Rao


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