The Karnataka government led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has promised to remove encroachments on the stormwater drain and its buffer area in Bengaluru after the IT belt of the city was flooded during torrential rains last week. Encroachment of lakes and stormwater drains was seen as the primary reason for flooding.
News18 has learnt that the state government has chalked out a road map for the demolition drive to ensure that drains are built without the encroachment removal drive damaging Government’s image in an election year. Karnataka Assembly polls are due in 2023 and the BBMP elections might happen if the court refuses to stay the current delimitation and ward reservation notifications.
The government has decided to go after big villas and tech parks first before demolishing small houses. BJP leaders are worried about its image being dented. With question being raised on whether the government is going soft on big builders, especially the Bagmane tech park where Minister MTB Nagaraj is alleged to have business interests, the government fears that it might be perceived as anti-poor and favouring the mighty builders.
“Earlier, governments stopped demolition once the rain stopped. But we will not stop, it is a continuous process and till full storm water drain network is established we will not stop. No question of rich and poor or sparing anyone,” said Revenue Minister R Ashoka.
Consultation over confrontation
The government has decided to demolish smaller structures like compounds and gates before razing big building. It is also likely to hold discussions with big builders like Bagmane tech park and owners of Epsilon which houses the rich like Rishad Premji, Byju’s co-founder Byju Raveendran and others. The administration is likely to ask them to vacate encroachments on their own and make way for drain construction.
In the meantime, Bagmane tech park has reportedly approached the Lokayukta questioning the survey. The builder wants other encroachments downstream to be removed before the bulldozers entire the tech park.
“Bagmane is saying clear all encroachments first after that you can demolish our structures, but that is what every encroacher will say. We can’t buy that. We will demolish any structure blocking the storm water drain structure,” said Mahadevapura MLA Aravind Limbavalli.
Revenue department has been asked to file caveats in court wherever required to ensure courts do not stay the demolition drive.
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