Choked Bangalore – Heart of the matter?

[Cross posted at Praja]

The best piece of news I have heard this month came last week. It goes “BBMP to book crook engineers“. Its something we all know and suspect to be true for ever now, and the plan to break the so called ‘nexus’ is ambitious:

BBMP will book the engineers of the erstwhile CMCs and TMC who have sanctioned projects on storm water drains, valleys, in agricultural lands etc. … Taking a serious note of rampant violation of zoning regulations and building bylaws, the BBMP … will trace these officials … and recommend action against them … In the wake of demolitions being carried out across the city, the BBMP has stumbled on several cases where engineers have encouraged encroachments in exchange for kickbacks running into lakhs of rupees.

Not that we haven’t heard similar language before, but there is an interesting twist to BBMP’s threat this time.

Hope you followed the “pay up fine and regularize your violation” related news. As part of that, BBMP expects a lot of building owners to come forward and submit building related paperwork (design, approvals).

That is twist number one. The second one I would add is around the fact that BBMP has gotten better at keeping records of properties in all the wards (read this related post). The motivation for improved record keeping is improving property tax collection.

Add above two developments, and you can see that pretty soon, it could be easier for BBMP to track down building-norm violations, encroachments etc. Now for the questions – What if BBMP goes easy on its latest threat (to break the builder-official nexus) as well? Well, since they are pretty close to having good data and records about these things, I am guessing that there is better scope for some activism to trigger and prod BBMP into action (Lok Ayukta, Koramangala Initiative like folks?)?

Anyway. Regardless of my half baked knowledge and predictions above, the fact remains that lack of serious enforcement of development-plans, encroachments etc is the single biggest reason behind most of Bangalore’s problems today. So, you see, I can be forgiven for getting excited about any serious sounding development around hitting at the heart of the matter, can’t I?

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