103 families near HRBR lakebed on tenterhooks

103 families near HRBR lakebed on tenterhooks

Nearly 103 families, majority of them senior citizens, are on tenterhooks as their properties adjacent to the HRBR Lake (Kalyan Nagar) have been declared illegal and as encroachments of the lakebed area.

The declaration by the local tahsildar’s office has come as a shock to people who have invested their life-time savings on just one  property that they have been dreaming of their entire life. The fact that elderly citizens, who have just one life-time asset, are facing eviction gives the encroachment story a human rights dimension.

D S Rajshekar, President of the North East Bengaluru Residents Association told Deccan Herald that all the 103 families have been issued show-cause notices asking them why they should not be evicted from the lakebed. “An 83-year-old citizen told me that if he dies, it would be because of the loss of his property purchased after investing life-time savings. Where are we expected to go at this age is what they ask me and the answers are not easy. There are families staying near the lake for over 30 years. What are they going to do when in their old age, they are being troubled for alleged encroachment?”
According to Rajshekar, the individual houses have been built on an area of 14 acres, which is part of the lake’s 42 acres. “Authorities tell us that the rest of the land apart from the 14 acres have also been encroached upon. That land belongs to the revenue department. My question is why are they saying that the lake has been encroached after nearly 30 years? The layout was formed in the early 1980s. What was the revenue department doing when sites were being formed? And what was the BDA doing? And what was the revenue department doing? It appears that the two government departments themselves did not know what they were doing when forming layouts.

Roads, water and electricity connections have been given and all the basic requirements of a layout have been met. The question is why they were not aware that they had committed an illegal act when they were carving out a layout out of the lakebed?”
According to the residents of the area, the houses had all the relevant documents needed to support ownership of property - like the khata, possession and occupancy certificates. When the notice was issued, residents were asked to meet the tahsildar within 24 hours. How would elderly people react to this and how can they suddenly overcome the shock and respond to the notice? The Tahsildar’s court then intervened and set dates for hearing of the cases. But the hearings were postponed twice, making residents desperate about whether the issue would be resolved soon. 

Residents of the area have said that they want regularisation of their properties at the earliest because it was not their mistake.

“We were not aware whether the lakebed was being encroached. We paid the money for the sites after BDA decided to make a layout near the lake bed. The legal mistake is by the BDA and revenue department. Revenue land, apart from the 14 acres on which our houses have been built, also has encroachments.

This means that the court or any competent authority should declare the actions of the revenue department and the BDA illegal. We don’t know whether that will happen now and given that they are government departments, it is possible for them to escape scrutiny. We are now waiting for the government to take a fair and honest stand. Each of us has only one house and in our entire lifetime, we will not be able to afford another one. And how will elderly citizens oversee construction of buildings or apartments? We have decided that the only answer to this problem is to regularise our properties. We are not ready for a compromise and if we are pushed to the limits, we will stage a dharna in front of the chief minister’s house. So we are ready and determined to fight the case till our demands are fulfilled. I doubt the departments’ actions will ever be declared illegal and made accountable. We cannot pay for their mistake. We are the just and legitimate BDA site allottees and rightful owners,” a resident of the area said.

A meeting has been planned by the tahsildar on February 20 where the arguments wil be taken up from all quarters. And given the campaign of the allottees, it is likely that alternatives would also be discussed.

But with the allottees in no mood to compromise, the decision by the tahsildar will prove crucial.

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