Policymakers confused about common zone regulations
Even now, there are two sets of contradictory rules for Bengaluru – one, the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act coupled with the Town and Country Planning Act and two, the Revised Master Plan, prepared by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).
The draft rule prepared by the Municipal Administration Department generalises all the cities. Existing rules say that no commercial activity should take place on roads with a width of 40 ft or less in residential areas. BaBMP was lenient towards the illegal shops in residential areas compelling residents to approach the Karnataka High Court and get a favourable judgement.
The Palike continued to turn a blind eye towards shops in residential areas, forcing the residents’ welfare associations to build pressure on the civic agency to initiate action against the violators.
As the Palike commissioner published notices in the newspapers warning action against the violators, the exercise to bring out the draft rule began.
Many MLAs and corporators were not happy with the crackdown as they were also getting affected by it. Besides, malls and commercial complex owners were also building pressure on the public representatives to save them from BBMP’s crackdown on them. In January, the BBMP Council debated the issue and passed a resolution that the government should amend the zonal regulations to allow commercial activities in residential areas even with a road width of less than 40 ft.
BBMP commissioner N Manjunath Prasad too agrees that although the zonal regulations are applicable to Bengaluru, it also follows the revised master plans brought out by BDA. “Bengaluru cannot be compared with any other city as it is different from others. Whether the draft rule is applicable to the city is a debatable issue given the guidelines of Revised Master Plan. Besides, the building byelaws for Bengaluru are different from other cities,” says the commissioner.
An urban expert, on condition of anonymity, says the Urban Development Department brought out the draft regulations in a hurry without looking into the consequences. “The Department has created a chaos. It brought out the draft notification in a jiffy. I know that there are objections from other towns too against permitting the commercial activities in the residential areas,” the expert notes.