Footpaths turn dump yards

Building mess

Footpaths turn dump yards

A burgeoning vehicle population and shrinking space on footpaths have made the lives of pedestrians miserable.

Malleswaram constituency is a case in point. From Sadashivanagar to Subramanayanagar to Mathikere, builders and contractors have turned footpaths into dump yards for building materials. In some cases, footpaths are appropriated for makeshift shelters for construction labourers.

Though the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) levies charges -- as per Palike byelaws of 2003 -- for using public space for storing building materials, nonetheless, it appears to be caught unawares over the issue.

BBMP officials say that the public nuisance is simply not brought to their notice on account of corrupt practices indulged in by engineers at the ward level.

“We have to believe that at least 80-90 percent of these illegal temporary encroachments have been on account of the engineers who have neglected to report the matter,” said a Palike official.

While officials have assured residents that encroachments would be removed, what seems to be treading on sticky ground is the fact that the BBMP itself cannot penalise the builders as they collect “ground rent” to allow the storage of construction materials beside buildings.

Byelaws

According to BBMP building byelaws, a rent is levied on the building contractors at the start of any project for keeping construction materials on public land.

“The ground rent is charged on the total area of all the floors in the building and is valid for a period of two years only,” states the byelaw, which also has clauses on occupancy certificates for temporary sheds in case one is erected.

However, according to Palike officials, most contractors don’t adhere to the byelaws, leading to obstruction of vehicular and pedestrian movements. BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah admitted there could be cases of footpath encroachment, but said they were not happening across the City. “These cases of encroachment may have occurred time and again. But we need time to identify these loopholes,” he told this newspaper.

But helpless pedestrians seem to be taking the chaos in their stride.  “It has become increasingly difficult for senior citizens to walk on footpaths. While there may be a certain portion of the footpath available to walk, the rest is blocked by temporary sheds and building materials,” lamented Narayan, a senior citizen who traverses along Bhashyam Circle in Sadashivanagar.

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