Illegal buildings hurting Bangalore: Sharma

Illegal buildings hurting Bangalore: Sharma

Illegal buildings hurting Bangalore: Sharma

From a listless institution to a nightmare for the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) engineers and officers, the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) saw a major transformation in the last eleven months under the leadership of the Additional Director General of Police Dr Rajvir Pratap Sharma.

Its aggressive approach to bring changes in the civic agency’s way of functioning did not go down well with BBMP engineers who staged a vehement protest leading to the unceremonious exit of R P Sharma from the BMTF.

The senior police officer was transferred to nowhere (he hasn’t received his next assignment).

He spoke to G Manjusainath of Deccan Herald at length on various issues, ranging from the building plan violations to the reasons behind his transfer. Excerpts:

Q: What was the reason behind your transfer?

Ans:  I don't know the reason but there is a famous Sanskrit proverb whose gist is 'what is obvious need not be answered'.

Q: Don't you feel offended that an ADGP rank officer like you is transferred without any posting?

I don't feel offended at this stage. I am content with what I have done here in the BMTF. All I have to say about the transfer is that it was premature. My tenure was not completed.

Q: Do you have any other options in your mind?

There are options but I won't talk in public forum because it's an issue between me and the government.

Q: Your rigid stand on building plan violations in the City claimed your posting in the BMTF. Why did you take up building plan violations when there were many other important issues to be looked into?

We were getting a large number of complaints of building plan violations and I found that the building plan violations are seriously handicapping the orderly growth of the Bangalore Metropolitan Area.

After identifying the problem I wrote a letter to the BBMP Commissioner and later conducted a workshop where I requested the Commissioner to attend it along with his staff.

At this stage, the workshop was attended by Additional Commissioner Nandakumar on behalf of the Commissioner. I gave him a copy of all literature so that the consequences of disobeying the direction of law may be known to them.

Q: The BMTF is supposed to protect government property. Why were issues like building plan violations taken up?

There are three duty charters for the BMTF. The first charter necessitates us to protect the property. We wrote a letter to the Urban Development Secretary to issue a circular that all the civic agencies should handover the list of government properties to us. In June this year, a circular was issued. We have registered 19 cases of encroachment on government properties.

The second charter is regarding prevention, detection and investigation of common offences. Building plan violations come in the second category. The third charter is about identifying colluding officials. For the third charter, we (BMTF) are declared a police station. There is one issue often raised: why earlier people did not fulfill the duty charter? I have no answer for it.

Q: You are accused of selectively registering cases.

This is absolutely false. Ours is a complaint-based system. We are only acting on complaints. We are not responsible if the complaints are against some people and not against others. We have got a very effective complaint system, which is totally transparent. The allegations are unfounded.

Q: There are allegations that you have done lots of violations while constructing your house in Doddagubbi village.

I would like to clarify here that I have obtained the permission from the Grama Panchayath, on whose basis, the Government of Karnataka has permitted me to construct a house. Every village, which comes under the BDA or the BMRDA limits has to be notified. It is true that Doddagubbi village comes under the BMRDA limits and not the BDA limits. BMRDA is not a town planning authority but the BDA is. People who say that I should take permission from the BDA should produce a notification in which Doddagubbi village is notified in the BDA limits.

Q: We have observed that the trouble started after you launched your website allowing people to lodge their complaints online. Do you think that was a wrong move?

I heard the mayor saying that there was no need for online complaint registration system. I have no answer to such arguments in the 21st century. People should know that the RTI (Right to Information) itself makes it mandatory to have a website.

Q: The government recently realised that the BMTF was not formed as per the municipal rules. It wants to revoke police powers from the BMTF. What is your view?

We (BMTF) have not been created by a single order but by a Cabinet decision. People who are opposed to police powers to the BMTF should think- Can a Cabinet take such a wrong decision?

The realisation that the BMTF was not formed as per rule has come after 16 years of its formation, which is surprising.

So far as snatching police powers are concerned it is the prerogative of the State government but there are ways and procedures, which are to be considered before issuing any order.

Q: How did you feel when BBMP engineers and officers raised slogans against you?

This shows how anarchical the system has become and criminality is posing threat to legality.