BBMP has no clue on actual number of high-rises in city

BBMP has no clue on actual number of high-rises in city

An under-construction building and a residential complex collapsed on Hutchins Road, Cooke Town, near Banaswadi in Bengaluru on July 10, killing five people. DH PHOTO

According to the property tax collection wing of the BBMP, there are 19 lakh properties in the city. However, there is no clarity on how many of them are high-rises (above 15 metres in height) or how many have necessary permission for construction.

Even officials in the town planning wing of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) do not have an answer.

“All permissions for the construction of high-rises from the past 10 years are uploaded on the Palike website,” said BBMP Town Planning wing Additional Director R Prasad.

According to the data on the BBMP website, 2,481 high-rises have been built in the past 10 years. The numbers, however, do not seem to tell the complete figure as many localities have thousands of high-rises, most of which seem new. Considering that the spurt in high-rises was a recent phenomenon, the civic body data doesn’t tell the full story.

A recent survey by the fire and emergency services department revealed that 35,000 high-rises do not have fire safety measures.

“The number may be much more,” said officials from the department, indicating that the number of illegally built high-rises is bigger.

“It is no secret that the high-rises are being built without obtaining necessary permissions and clearances. Many get permission for three-storey building and scale it up to four or five floors. BBMP officials remain mum despite seeing the illegal constructions every day. There is a lot of corruption behind the irregularities,” said D S Rajashekhar of Citizens Action Forum.

He said the building that collapsed in Pulakeshinagar recently, killing five people, was also constructed illegally.

“Wouldn’t the BBMP ward engineer know that the building was illegal? Do they not come out of their office at all,” he asked.

After the incident, assistant engineer Srikanth was suspended for not taking action against the building owner.

“But the suspended officials come back after some days. People also forget the tragedies and the illegal construction continues,” Rajashekhar added.

In a similar incident, an under-construction building started to tilt in Ashwathnagar. It was demolished later. Four to five such cases were reported last year. A BBMP assistant executive engineer said they prevented illegal construction of many high-rises. “Many who get into illegalities have political backing. The higher-ups do not support officials working under them. So, illegal constructions go up,” he said.