Demolition drive deferred till June 4

Demolition drive deferred till June 4

In a huge relief to owners of properties on lake beds here, the district administration on Wednesday agreed to defer the anti-encroachment drive till June 4 when the government will take a final decision on the issue in a Cabinet meeting.

However, if the government fails to take a decision, the district authorities will be at liberty to continue with the demolition of all buildings on lake beds, including houses in layouts developed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).

The decision to defer the drive was taken in a meeting convened by Upalokayukta Justice Subhash Adi which was attended by Additional Chief Secretary D Satya Murty, Principal Secretary Basavaraj, BDA Commissioner T Sham Bhatt, Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru Urban district V Shankar, the Chief Executive Officer of the Lake Development Authority and several officers.

Justice Adi pointed out that there were allegations of bias by district authorities between people with houses in private layouts and those who have property in BDA layouts, even if both are on lake beds.

The Upalokayukta also sought to know from the deputy commissioner whether he has any order or direction to exclude any layout or construction made by the BDA.

In reply to a query, the BDA commissioner said the layouts have been formed on 14 lake  beds in the City, which was quickly disputed by Shankar, who submitted a list of 20 lakes which were encroached by the BDA to form layouts comprising some 5,000 sites and as per rules, all these houses have to be demolished.

The Upalokayukta asked Satya Murty and Basavaraj to submit the government's view as to whether the deputy commissioner would go ahead with the demolition drive in respect of all the structures and properties over the lake area irrespective of whether such development is by private or public authorities. All officials unanimously agreed that there is no provision for discrimination so far as law enforcement is concerned.

Whether the BDA or a private person forms a layout on the lake bed, it must be treated as illegal and whoever violates rules should be subjected to legal action.

The officials were worried about the implication of demolishing structures. In the case of BDA and other government buildings, including bus stand, schools, colleges, stadium and other infrastructure, the loss will be somewhere close to Rs 15,000 crore.

Officials felt the government should focus only on functional and semi-functional lakes for preservation and revive them by clearing the storm water drains. The dead lakes should not be touched.

Later speaking to reporters, Justice Adi said that strict directions have been issued to the government to recover money from erring officials who broke the rules and led the BDA and the government to huge loss.

If those officials are dead, the government can recover money from the next of the kin of the deceased, he added.

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