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BBMP yet to remove bulk of SWD encroachments

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The Hindu       05.09.2017 

BBMP yet to remove bulk of SWD encroachments

People playing at the Begur lake that overflowed following rain for the past few days, in Bengaluru on Sunday.K. MURALI KUMAR  

Of 81 acres identified, civic body has cleared only 11.21 acres that is a mere 13.8%

Over a year has passed since the July 2016 flash floods woke up the civic agencies to start adopting corrective measures. But the encroachment clearance drive that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike soon began has all but been abandoned.

Of the 81 acres identified as encroachments in the 800-km stormwater drain (SWD) network in the city, the BBMP has successfully cleared only 11.21 acres (a mere 13.8%) till date. Of the 1,953 buildings that the civic body had identified as encroachments, only 1,225 buildings have been removed.

“It is apparent why the drive fizzled out. It hit a major roadblock after they found encroachment by Ideal Homes Layout, R.R. Nagar, which had houses of VIPs, and Orion Mall,” pointed out a civic activist.

The BBMP then cited lack of surveyors deputed from the Revenue Department as an excuse to discontinue the clearance drive. The High Court, too, recently issued a set of guidelines for encroachment clearance that is also being used as a reason that slowed down the drive.

It is not just clearance of encroachments that has hit a dead-end. Even other works such as strengthening of stormwater drains and dredging do not have any great progress to boast of, citizens say. Following the recent flooding in Koramangala on Independence Day, Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George ordered the transfer of the chief engineer of drains in the civic body, against whom even Mayor G. Padmavathi had a litany of complaints for slowing down stormwater drain works. A new chief engineer took charge two weeks ago.

BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said he would take measures to immediately restart the encroachment clearance drive after the rains cease.

“During my recent visit to HSR Layout and Koramangala, some encroachments causing a reverse flow of water have come to my notice. We will restart the drive soon,” he said.