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Bpac in illegal commercialization row

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Dear all ,
below my posting( rtaher long..sorry!!) on other groups on an issue in koramangala on illegal commercilisation.
The salient aspect is  the kind of people who do this, and thier jusifcations in the face of an obvious wrongdoing.
However we look at it , our societycontinues to be  based  on a priveleged class concept, be it politicians , beuracracy or the new wave of "self styled civic groups of eminent citizens".
where will it stop.
This is the Bangalore mirror take on the breakfast club issue .
what is most stunning the comments of some of those concerned.It shows an utter disregard for rule of law,a community and neighborhood point of view and a crazy equation of our neighborhood to silicon valley(!!).And justifications galore in the face of obvious wrongdoings.
One expects this kind of behavior from our beuracracy gone wrong, but coming from self styled propogators of good governance and seemingly eminent citizens, gives rise to the view that the only way ahead is for neighborhoods to take full ownership of their it through ward councils or RWAS.We have to take pride in koramangala that we are one of the neighbourhoods which is vigilant and active in protection of our surroundings, but it also means that we are still a bit away from being a really  strong force .We do need more active participation from all in these kind of civic issues, and a willingness to take the fight in to the enemy camp in an no hold barred kind of fashion.Possibly we will need to move a bit more into active politics and look at the right representations for our wards/neighbourhoods in municipal elections.
Civic body commissioner's role has been brought into question. And it seems like the city's watchdog that harps on good governance is too busy looking the other way 
An eatery in Koramangala is in the eye of the storm for running in alleged contravention of town planning laws. It is not just any other eatery; among its three owners are Pranav Pai, son of IT guru Mohandas Pai who is a B.Pac vice president, and Anil Shetty, a member of B.Pac. A nugget about B.Pac, which was formed by the likes of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Pai and an ex-IAS K Jairaj, to be a watchdog for Bengaluru: Its objectives include "to promote and sustain good governance practices'', and ''to promote integrity and transparency in all arms of the government and to enhance the image of Bangalore''.

Against this backdrop of B.Pac's avowed objectives is the allegation that not everything has been above board as far as the 600-sq ft restaurant, which is called 154 Breakfast Club, in Koramangala III Block. The health licence, it is alleged and somewhat borne out by the trail of documents, has been facilitated by the office of the BBMP commissioner himself.

The civic chief, M Lakshminarayana, has made a noting on the files which says ''Please help in getting the trade licence''; the file has moved within two months — in an exhibition of spectacular alacrity, uncharacteristic for the civic body — so that the restaurant can be up and running.

All the dramatis personae — the eatery owners, Pai himself and Lakshminara-yana — are staunchly denying any wrongdoing or favouritism. In its Saturday edition, Vijay Karnataka, our sister publication, front-paged a story about the alleged irregularity in BBMP approving this health licence.

154 Breakfast Club, registered as Hivemind Cafe, is a Limited Liability Partnership firm with three partners. It opened in the second week of December 2014, and the civic authorities have chosen to overlook alleged violations in land use and zoning regulations of the BDA Masterplan 2015.

The whole process —from the time of health licence application to the approval — which all have come together just within two months is equally intriguing considering the fact that the approval was given pending final notification of the amendment of Masterplan zoning regulation.

From the go, the neighbourhood opposed this eatery, an 8am-3pm breakfast place. The opposition came from YTHE adjoining house — number 155, and 25 others and the Koramangala III block residents welfare association.

The firm applied for health licence under Bakery and Beverages. BBMP commissioner M Lakshminar-ayana has personally noted on the file on December 1, 2014: "Please help in getting trade licence."

The jurisdictional health officer, obviously playing safe in case there is any mudslinging, has put it on record in the approval letter that the "licence is given as per instructions from the BBMP commissioner".

The residents who have petitioned against the eatery have raised several points:

# It falls under the residential/ mixed residential zone of Masterplan and even if 20% is allowed for ancillary use such as a darshini, milk booth, hopcoms etc. This eatery does not fall under any of the category.

# The approval was given against the high court's interim order in January, 2012, for a writ petition filed by civic groups against commercialization if residential areas. HC stated that no change of land use, commercial building plan should be approved in residential areas after January 2012 and if already given, stands recalled. However this interim order was in place till the government came up with an amendment to the zoning regulations of BDA's masterplan. This notification was issued on December 11, 2014 while the health licence to the eatery was given on December 5, 2014.

# Licence given despite objections filed by 25 neighbours and the area welfare association.

Says Nitin Seshadri, one of the residents, an RWA member and the petitioner: "The power and patronage has pulled through in this case. Show me how many applications will be personally seen by a BBMP commissioner and recommend for its approval. Why this case? Even if the argument is that zoning regulations were amended on December 11, 2014 providing for commercialisation in residential areas with more than 40 feet road, with a plot area of 1,000 square metres; here, the plot is not more than 2,400 sqft."

Recording that the residents have protested against the eatery, the health officer of BTM zone has written in the approval letter on December 5, 2014: "The health licence for Bakery and Beverages has been given as per directive from the BBMP commissioner?"

I have not seen this place. The High Court though has banned commercialisation in residential areas but has provided 20% leeway for ancillary uses. But I don't know how big the restaurant is. When the file came to me, I only wrote to the area health officer to help them. The officer down below should check the nitty-gritties of the case; about the land use pattern, zoning regulation. If it is illegal, then a decision should have been taken at the MoH (Medical Health Officer) level.'

—BBMP commissioner Lakshminarayana

There is nothing illegal about Breakfast Club and a din is being raised unnecessarily just because big names are involved. How can a bar and restaurant, an IT firm and a five-star hotel, function in the area and residents have not bothered to get them evicted. If our hotel cannot be allowed in a residential area, how can the bar, the IT company and five-star hotel be allowed without a fuss? The HC has said that on roads above 40-feet wide in residential and mixed residential zones, approval can be given for commercial use. This area is completely commercialised now. We have also taken a No Objection Certificate from many residents before opening the hotel.'

—Nishyarth Prasad, co-partner, The Breakfast Club

What is the big deal? Three young boys decided to open an eatery, not even a bar, went through the process and got a health licence. Why are the residents objecting against this coffee place where young people come and have coffee, snacks, and ideate, which will lead to start-ups. This model is followed in Silicon Valley. We have to provide the opportunity and a good environment to young entrepreneurs who are highly-educated and talented. It is a small eatery that has three employees and 10 tables. Why are rich people in the area living in big bungalows after these young boys?'

—Mohan Das Pai, B.Pac VP


October 1 

Application for health licence

November 11

Licence given on the basis of the draft notification of masterplan zoning regulations amendment. The draft was published on October 14

December 1

BBMP commissioner's request to health officer

December 5

Licence approval

December 15

Eatery opened

*As per documents procured under RTI



srinidhi's picture

Violations galore

151 users have liked.

Why one eatery only..?

would say bangalore is plagued by violations on the zoning the extent this city can be called 'violations-galore' instead..

shahrukh khans illegal public meeting ramp was demolished yesterday  in mumbai...I wonder if our authorities here can do anything like that!

also true is the fact that the self styled 'urban  exprts' are ruining this city!

murali772's picture

RWA's principled stand

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The High Court on Friday issued a notice to the state government, the Commissioners of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and M/s Hivemind Cafe and Studios in Koramangala in connection with a public interest litigation filed against the establishment of an eatery ‘154 Breakfast Club’ in a residential area.

- - - The partners are Nishyarth Prasad, Pranav M Pai and Anil Shetty.

The counsel representing the petitioner argued that the establishment of commercial unit in a residential area was causing inconvenience to the local residents.

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

The following comment by a local resident member in the RWA yahoogroup sums it all up adequately:

I commend the stand taken by your RWA. I fervently hope that other RWAs will follow your lead whenever the occasion so demands. The best way of appreciating your efforts is to take a firm and principled stand for the general good of the community against self-interest and double standards. Well done indeed !!

Zonal violations as much as building law violations (check here) have gone unchecked all these years. It's time the citizens came together to say "enough is enough".

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