The Koramangala demolitions

There is this strange story behind Koramangala demolitions. It all started with a PIL from a few residents who complained that rampant construction and zoning norm violations had killed Koramangala. And when the court agreed with them and ordered punitive action, the other set of residents put pressure on these guys who had filed the PIL. The PIL was withdrawn. But BMP has decided to take punitive actions forward in any case. And hence these demolitions (picture from today’s Deccan Herald).

Koramangala demolitionsThere is a dilemma about whats the best way to deal with the situation here.

I will like to say that hard punishments are needed. We have this problem of being too soft when it comes to punishments for crimes that don’t seem that apparent. There are so many building norm violations around that people think it wont be possible for anyone to punish all the violators. This thought – that eventually all illegal construction will get regularized – in turn leads to more violations getting carried out. So the right thing to do is – demolish as many as you can.

And make a public show of the demolitions. You could argue for the unsuspecting tenants who really get to suffer here. But hey, its their fault, did they even think of checking if the construction was all legal before they rented the place? That may not be the norm, but these demolitions will send the message that illegal construction activity wont be tolerated.

On the other hand, there are so many violations and illegal buildings around that punishing each and every owner may not be feasible. A middle path could be to punish only the big violators (> 50% violations). And “regularize” the rest if they agree to pay a heavy fine. I bet this “regularization” fine can fund a lot of infrastructure projects.

Beyond Bangalore, Delhi is going through similar dilemma right now. Should half of Delhi be demolished? It almost happened (Delhi demolitions), before government bailed people out with one year moratorium on Delhi demolitions.

Sooner or later, every other city in India will hit similar decision points. Hard punishments or not? If not, then how to send a strong message while avoiding impractically strong punitive actions?

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5 Responses

  1. […] Over a month ago, I wrote on the controversy around Koramangala demolitions. With another controversy raging around building plan violations by Garuda Mall, it is time to touch that topic again. […]

  2. […] PS: BTW, I thought the Koramangala Demolitions promised a lot, but the ‘movement’ fizzled out for whatever reasons. The formula for the compromise reached there – legalize small violations through a fine, but take heavy violators to task – may end up getting used in this case as well. But these are still early days. […]

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