Mayor says officials worked in secrecy

Mayor says officials worked in secrecy, didn't keep him in loop

Illegal demolitions: BBMP admits to mistake after hundreds lose homes

An assistant executive engineer’s illegal move to demolish labourers’ makeshift homes in eastern Bengaluru last Sunday has exposed a larger problem within the BBMP with Mayor M Goutham Kumar revealing that the decision-making process in the civic body is shrouded in secrecy. 

Three days after hundreds of sheds in the Bellandur ward were razed to the ground on the AEE’s watch, the BBMP has not yet come up with an account of what went wrong. The civic body is yet to decide on compensating hundreds of poor families who lost their homes. 

Asked about the delay in the compensation, the mayor admitted that officials had kept him in the dark. “No official told me about what happened in Bellandur. They later said the AEE has been sent back to his (parent) department (PWD). I have told the BBMP commissioner that the AEE should not have been sent back. Action should have been taken against him,” Kumar said. 

The mayor, however, denied the allegation that the AEE was under political pressure to demolish the slums. “Decisions were taken by officials without our knowledge. How can a junior engineer take a call on razing hundreds of homes? What were his superiors, especially the joint commissioner, doing when the huts were being demolished? All this should come out,” the mayor said. 

While BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar could not be reached for comment, Special Commissioner D Randeep, who is also in charge of the Mahadevapura zone under which the Bellandur ward falls, maintained that the AEE had committed a mistake. 

“It’s private land and he had no authority to initiate such an action. The joint commissioner has been told to submit a report to the commissioner. Further action will be taken based on the report,” he said. 

This can’t go on: Mayor

The mayor said the “separation” of officials from elected representatives would be discussed at a BBMP council meeting next week. “Right now, there is a split between officials and elected representatives in the BBMP. We are kept in the dark at each level. They (officials) are answerable for all these actions and we will discuss this at the council meeting on January 27 and 28,” he said. 

Isaac Arul Selva, the editor of ‘Slum Jagattu’, a magazine focused on the lives of people in slums, said the BBMP had repeatedly violated the law when it comes to the economically weaker sections. 

“Officials have used several ruses to harass the poor. In the past, they would give reasons like prostitution or criminal activity (for demolishing the slums). Now, it is the “illegal Bangladeshi migrant”. This is a typical act of gentrification that conforms to the middle-class demand,” he said. 

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