Residents strive to save SWDs, but Palike looks the other way

Residents strive to save SWDs, but Palike looks the other way

Residents strive to save SWDs, but Palike looks the other way

A group of citizens has accused the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike of being indifferent to their efforts to clear Stormwater Drains (SWDs) of encroachments. 

When P Udaya Shankar, an RTI activist, and Ahmed Khan—both residents of DJ Halli—learnt about an SWD in their locality being encroached upon by over 40 houses, they immediately made complaints to the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) and the Palike Commissioner, M Lakshminarayana. 

“The BMTF took the Palike officials to task and directed the City Survey Department to prepare survey sketch of the SWD. Palike engineers promised to clear the encroachments after getting the survey report,” Shankar said.

“It has been over three months since the survey department handed over the survey report to the Palike, and the latter has chosen to take no action.” Residents claim that not just houses, even shops and a school have been built on the SWD in DJ Halli. The rampant encroachments mean the lanes adjoining the SWD get flooded during a heavy rainfall, they say. 

Similarly, a large SWD at HRBR Layout 3rd Block has been giving a nightmare to the residents. The SWD has been encroached upon by several houses and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and houseflies. Jude Rajesh Ferrao, a resident, made complaints to the Palike, after which the BBMP’s chief engineer, SWD, H C Ananthaswamy, inspected the spot. 

According to Ferrao, after the inspection, notices were issued to owners of houses that had encroached upon the SWD and connected the sewage system to the stormwater drain directly. “But no houses were demolished,” he said. 

S Umesh, president of Five-Year Law Course Advocates’ Association, was the first to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the High Court against the Palike for its failure to clear the SWD of encroachments. 

Acting on the PIL, the High Court in 2011 directed the civic agency to demolish all encroachments and submit a monthly report on action taken by it. “But the BBMP is targeting the small fish while leaving all the big shark,” Umesh said.

According to him, Baptist Hospital, the gurudwara in Ulsoor, UB City, Garuda Mall, etc had all encroached upon SWDs. While the Baptist Hospital has encroached upon 16 guntas of SWD, the gurudwara has been completely built on an SWD,” he asserted. 

Mayor N Shanthakumari blames MLAs and corporators for obstructing the drive to clear SWDs of encroachments. Admitting that SWD engineers in the Palike were not doing their job, she promised to remove Ananthswamy from his position. ­