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Manhattanised villages of Bengaluru city

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Urban Development

Cosmopolitan Bengaluru may have emerged as the silicon valley of the country, but some of its urbanised areas such as Koramangala and Peenya are still villages if the Revenue Department records are to go by. This is one of the reasons for the prevailing confusion over land documents, officials say.

While these areas have legal urban records for some decades, the Revenue Department still has dormant village records for these areas, that have not been updated with the changing land use and transactions. Thus, most of the areas, which have legitimate urban records, still figure in Revenue records as villages, resulting in two records for the same land — the transactions of one not reflected in the other.

A recent exercise conducted by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Restructuring Committee found 192 villages in the city’s core in the Revenue Department’s records as villages.- - - - The last time the Revenue Department conducted a survey was in 1969–70 and it mapped 130 sq. km with 1.65 lakh properties. Now the city has grown to include 741 sq. km with an estimated 16 lakh properties, none of which is updated in the Revenue records.

Also, records of the estimated 600 revenue layouts over which thousands of houses have come up, are still recognised as agricultural land since they have not been converted for non-agricultural purpose. There are neither legitimate urban records nor Revenue records for these land, adding to further confusion, sources said.

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

Absolutely shocking that it has remained so all these years, even as Koramangala, more specifically, is all set to get "Manhattanised" totally (check this). And, it's not as if the neta's were not aware of it all. It suited them perfectly (check here), and so they made sure it remained that way.

And, it required the BBMP Restructuring Committee to bring this out in the open - kudos to them for that! Further, going by the excellent presentation by Mr Ravichandar, one of the Committee members, at the BIC, a few weeks back, we should be seeing a lot more such revelations about "Namma" city, when the final report is presented, soon. It will then be for the Civil Society to ensure that it's put to good use to make the city more liveable than at present (if not smart, as the term goes), rather than allow it to gather dust in dust in some corner of Vidhan/ Vikas Soudha, as has been the fate of many reports in the past.

In the context of the lake encroachment clearance exercise that was carried out over the past few weeks, Mr Leo Saldanha (of ESG India) had very correctly opined that "the Government would do all of us, and future generations, a major service if it scanned all revenue maps and land records and put it up online for free public viewing.  That way, one can be sure that no fudging can be allowed.  This is important as  it is extremely difficult to rely on any land records that were created in recent decades". One hopes that the Restructuring Committee's exercise covers these aspects, and many more too.

A term that, that is often seen in press reports, but that I haven't quite understood is "encroachment of revenue land". I had thought all revenue land was agricultural land, and therefore under the ownership of some agriculturist. If so, how will an encroachment happen? Will not the owner resist it? Or, can revenue land be under the ownership of the government too?

All in all, land (the most critical asset for every human being) and everything pertaining to it, is clearly in a muddle currently, and perhaps intentionally so too. As such, the first thing that has to happen is clarity on all these matters, beginning with a glossary of terms.

Muralidhar Rao


murali772's picture

mother of all land-grabs

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First, we should differentiate between encroachers and land-grabbers. Encroachers are just the unauthorised occupants of government land without having titles or government documents to claim their right on the land. They cannot sell it either. So such lands can be cleared any time.

Land-grabbing is a criminal offence as fictitious documents are created to claim rights, and the land is sold to innocent people. The connivance of government officials in such acts is certain. This is the more serious and dangerous issue and the government should punish them mercilessly.

For the full text of the interview of former JD(S) MLA Mr A T Ramaswamy, who headed the joint house committee on encroachments of government land in and around Bengaluru, in the New Indian Express, click here.

An example of such "government land" is perhaps the 66 acre parcel of land, supposedly under the custody of the "Shantinagar House Building Co-op Society", supposedly headed by the current power minister, Mr D K Shivkumar, the story on which has been compiled here.

For all the talk of recovery of government land by the CM, it'll be interesting to see how he handles this obvious and blatant case of "mother of all housing scams", as Mr Ramaswamy has himself put it.

PS: Apparently, the government acquired the revenue/ agricultural (I presume they mean the same), and alloted it to the housing co-op society, to develop it, and in turn allocate it to its members, according to laid out rules/ criteria. The society defaulted grossly (and hence the reference as the "mother of all scams"), leading to the land title reverting to the government, it thereby becoming "government land".

Muralidhar Rao
Abraham Kuruvilla's picture

Mother of Land Grabs

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