Utter disregard for pedestrians' right

Utter disregard for pedestrians' right

Commercial encroachments

Utter disregard for pedestrians' right

A recent case of encroachment by a commercial establishment was when a leading jewellery store on Dickenson Road placed a giant model of an elephant and a lion on the pavement to attract customers.

They also converted the pavement in front of the store into a parking lot, thus inconveniencing a large numbers of pedestrians and people in the neighbourhood. The ‘attractions’ were removed only after a complaint was filed against the establishment by an ordinary citizen.

Metrolife interacted with the traffic police, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials and people to understand what problems arise from commercial encroachments.

Clear cases of commercial encroachments are visible in places like Jayanagar IV Block, Koramangala, Madiwala, a couple of places in and around M G Road, Brigade Road and in Marthahalli, informs a senior official with the BBMP. The official says, “A trade licence is issued only after the relevant documents are submitted and cleared. But we have found that slowly and steadily these commercial establishments encroach on public spaces and we spot them only after much damage is done. In extreme cases, the buildings are razed to the ground. We are keeping track of cases of encroachments in the City – both residential and commercial.”

The traffic police say that they are helpless in this regard and can do nothing to prevent encroachments by commercial establishments. “This violation comes under the Karnataka Police Act and not the Motor Vehicles Act. All we can do is to register a complaint of public nuisance and prompt the BBMP to take action against the offenders,” observes M A Saleem, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Safety).

“The pedestrian paths come under the BBMP’s purview and they have to ensure that public spaces are not encroached upon,” adds Saleem.

But people don’t believe that the cops and the BBMP officials are discharging their duties efficiently. They point out that the cops and officials are often hand-in-glove with the commercial establishments, who bribe them heavily to prevent them from taking any action.

Rachan D’souza, consultant, client services with Writer Relocations, says that encroachments by commercial establishments cause a lot of nuisance to pedestrians.

“Nobody lifts a finger to protest or do anything to stop this encroachment. There are instances where even construction material is dumped on the pavement and people are forced to walk on the road. We are paying taxes, so why should we be denied of public spaces?” wonders Rachan.

Kumardeep Chakraborty, a business development manager with a marketing firm, says encroachments by both small vendors and big establishments are a common
problem. “People park on pavements without any regard for pedestrians. Most of the traffic cops are bribed and hence they don’t take any action. People are forced to walk on the road and the danger of being hit by a speeding vehicle is inevitable,” says Kumardeep.

Kumar, who runs a garment store on Dickenson Road, too is unhappy with the increasing cases of commercial encroachments he sees around. “It’s like people just don’t care and take public spaces for granted. The officials are doing very little to curb this trend and the ordinary people are at the receiving end,” he wraps up.