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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.


Rs. 800-crore work to be completed by December

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The Hindu          05.09.2017 

Rs. 800-crore work to be completed by December

Delay was because we followed due process: George

As parts of the city drown during the rain, the much-touted Rs. 800-crore work on reinforcing stormwater drains, which was expected to be completed before this monsoon, will now be completed by December. Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George on Sunday attributed the delay to the time taken to get all approvals under ‘due process’.

RCC drains

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had tendered 408 works to construct reinforced cement concrete (RCC) drains of 192 km at a cost of Rs. 800 crore after the July 2016 floods. On Sunday, BBMP officials admitted that work started as late as May.

Mr. George announced that an additional Rs. 300 crore proposal would be placed before the Cabinet on Monday. Once these works are completed, citizens would not have to worry about the aftermath of rains.

Currently, tenders for 70 works for flood damage correction have been approved under the Chief Minister’s grant.

This includes for repair and construction of drains in areas, which suffered the brunt of rains this year, he said.

On August 5, a review by Mr. George revealed that only 54.66% of the works had begun and just 5.3% had been completed.

Robot excavators

The BBMP has submitted a Rs. 2 crore proposal to get robot multi-purpose excavators for dredging and cleaning of drains. “With the use of such machines, we will be able to complete dredging in vast stretches quickly,” said Mr. Prasad.


Civic officer must be held liable for open manhole, says retired judge

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The Times of India     01.09.2017  

Civic officer must be held liable for open manhole, says retired judge

MUMBAI: The civic ward officer should be held accountable and liable for this lapse of an open manhole in which Dr Deepak Amrapurkar died, said a recently retired Bombay high court judge, Justice V M Kanade, on Friday, hours after the body was found. Legal experts said civic administration or even officials concerned must be held personally liable for the loss due to their negligence.

"An open manhole is definitely a civil negligence even if the floods were unforeseen. The BMC is liable to pay compensation," said the former judge.

Like Justice Kanade, other legal experts say the civic administration is liable to compensate the family for the death of Amrapurkar, who never reached home after he left Bombay hospital on August 29 during the deluge. "Though the death is monumentally tragic, it can't be said the civic administration can be held criminally liable. There can be no FIR registered against officials under section 304A (death due to negligence) in this case, but it is certainly a case of civil liability, where the liability must be fixed on an officer/s concerned who then must be ordered to personally compensate from his or their pockets."

"The least the BMC could have done was to create a barricade or a signage near the dangerous spot," added Kanade. "Whether it is criminal negligence or not is debatable."

The 58-year-old doctor is believed to have fallen in to an open manhole. A short walk from Elphinstone Road to his house nearby proved to be his last. His body was discovered on Friday morning at a drain near Worli. The doctor's death has disturbed the society and highlighted the lack of civic preparedness and its "continuing negligence", said lawyers.

The BMC can't shrug its liability, said lawyer Sujay Kantawala.

A query under RTI Act in 2015 had revealed that 12 roads alone had 20 open manholes. The civic response was that the cover thefts were on the rise. But there has been no move to use technology to ensure instant alerts when a cover goes missing to replace them or place red flags.

When the administration fails to do its duty, it amounts to negligence and attracts the law of tort when a member of the public suffers as a result of such negligence.

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Gaping manholes in cities has led to deaths earlier. In 2007, the death of a boy who fell in a manhole in Kolkata too had attracted a rap from the HC there.

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Mumbai branch, passed a resolution on Friday to file a PIL over the tragic death of Dr Amrapurkar.

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