Take it back

The Karnataka Cabinet’s decision last week to promulgate an Ordinance to extend the cut off date for regularising unauthorised urban constructions under the Akrama Sakrama scheme till December is highly retrograde.

If the Siddaramaiah government has any concern for orderly growth of cities, particularly of Bangalore, it should withdraw the scheme lock, stock and barrel immediately. The scheme, meant to regularise the ‘illegal construction’ of buildings, first conceived during the JD(S)-BJP coalition government in 2007 and later unsuccessfully pursued by the BJP government, not only rewards the law breakers, but it will make our cities more unliveable than they already are. It is ironical that the Congress party, which had vehemently opposed the Akrama Sakrama when it was in Opposition, is in a mad rush to implement it within months of coming to power with the sole intention of garnering more votes in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Should the future of a purported Global City like Bangalore be sacrificed at the alter of electoral politics?
Much of the problems that the Bangalore city faces is because of the lack of planning of its infrastructural development, particularly the layouts, roads, buildings, vehicular movement and parking.

The residential layouts are mixed with commercial activities, building plans are routinely violated and the public spaces are encroached upon with the officials either turning a blind eye to the violations or being hand-in-glove with the violators. Governor H R Bhardwaj, who had earned the acclaim of conscientious citizens earlier by refusing the give his approval to the bill proposed by the BJP government, has made a surprising u-turn by recently giving assent to the Karnataka Town and Country Planning and Certain Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009, opening himself to the charge that his earlier stand was more ‘political’ than principled. The government’s proposal to regularise the violations in building construction up to 50 per cent for both residential and commercial buildings with differential penalties of 6 per cent to 30 per cent will not only encourage lawless behaviour among citizens and undeserved pardon for officials who allowed such violations in the first place, but the problems of congestion, traffic snarls, pollution, piling of garbage, flooding during rains etc will mount uncontrollably.

The state government will do well to rethink the whole issue of Akrama Sakrama thoroughly, consult urban planners on how to resolve the matter of building violations and to what extent, and send out a clear signal that henceforth the rule of law will prevail.

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