Palike penalties are water under bridge for BWSSB

Roads in a mess after drainage works in Shastrinagar, HAL, Annasandra Palya and other areas of Bangalore East. dh photos

But the Water Board has refused to take cognizance of the Palike’s notice.
The Palike says it has sent repeated reminders to the BWSSB to pay up for what it said were “unauthorised” road digging in three BBMP divisions — South, East and West. The roads were not relaid during the last one year.

Since April last year, the BBMP sent four official reminders to the BWSSB to pay up the penalties at the earliest. Yet, save a partial amount of Rs 1.4 crore, no money was released from the BWSSB coffers, says the Palike.

“The reminders appear to have fallen on deaf ears. No amount of cajoling or stern notices seem to have had any effect on the BWSSB,” complains a BBMP official.

The BBMP has recorded that the maximum offences were ‘officially’ committed in the seven sub-divisions of South Zone, where over 82,667 metres of road were dug up without permission. The Palike expects another set of offences worth Rs 4 crore from the West Zone on similar lines. The BWSSB apparently paid Rs 40 lakh for digging 4.5 km of roads in the East Zone.

From 2010, the penalties have been a topic of intense discussion between the two civic agencies at their board  meetings. “But when the matter of paying the penalties come forth, it is either scuttled by the BWSSB or empty promises are made that the money would be paid at the earliest,” says a source who has been following the deliberations closely.

While the BBMP can play hard ball with private agencies who refuse to pay penalties when unauthorised road cuttings are done, it is a different ball game with the BWSSB.
“Since they too are a civic agency under the government umbrella, it is hard for us to push them for payment beyond a certain point,” says the source.

Amid all this talk, the incomplete road re-laying and shoddy patchwork have left the City in a state of perennial decay. With the penalty payment not forthcoming, the Palike is finding it tough to spend much on road maintenance. “Take for instance the Gandhi Bazaar road. Six months ago, we had re-laid the stretch only to be dug up by the BWSSB within 24 hours. Where is the resource to spend again on the same stretch?” asks a frustrated BBMP official.

The BBMP top brass had directed that every road-cutting permission granted to a public or private agency should have a clause that the stretch would be relaid to its original standard. But this clause is rarely adhered to. With no official permission to dig the road, most agencies take advantage of passing the buck by not admitting that they had destroyed the stretch.

It is learnt that the BBMP will soon send amother reminder to the BWSSB to pay their dues. In the midst of all this, do the agencies realise residents are the most penalised?

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