BBMP turns a blind eye to encroachment on parks, road

BBMP turns a blind eye to encroachment on parks, road

Thurahalli BHCS Layout has wide roads, playgrounds only on paper

BBMP turns a blind eye to encroachment on parks, road

A BDA-approved layout in Thurahalli near Uttarahalli is mired in controversy over the encroachment of half-a-kilometre-long and 60-ft-wide road, parks and playgrounds leaving no space for recreation and sports activities.

The Bharath Housing Cooperative Society (BHCS) Layout has a wide road and nine parks but only on paper. Although residents know that all parks and playgrounds have been encroached, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has kept the matter under wraps.

However on Friday, in response to an RTI application filed two years ago regarding the status of parks and playgrounds, BBMP assistant executive engineer Narasimha Babu provided a written reply with survey sketches of these parks and playgrounds. He conceded that slums have come up in some of the parks while a government school too has been built on the park land.

Other documents available with Deccan Herald show that the school was built by the BBMP without the knowledge of either the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) or the BDA. It does not even have the approval of the BDA or the higher-ups of the BBMP.

Also, the BBMP spent Rs 10 lakh for the development of a playground, which exists only on paper.

Regarding the road, the engineer said there is no encroachment and it will be developed once grants are released. The layout map superimposed on the satellite image shows many houses on the 60-ft road.

For two years, the BBMP engineer was holding back information till the matter reached the Information Commission and the hearing began six months ago. Information Commissioner Shankar R Patil issued a show-cause notice to the engineer saying why a penalty of Rs 25,000 should not be imposed on him for denying information. Finally, Babu relented and shared information about the parks and playgrounds.

Babu said in his reply that one of the human settlements, shown as park-5, existed for more than 75 years while the slum existed for 25 years in Park-1. He even claimed that the slum dwellers have been paying property taxes to the BBMP.

When contacted, BHCS president Krishna Das squarely blamed the BBMP for spreading lies.

Annoyed by BBMP's response, Das sought to know, “How can we show any human settlement as park land? If such was the case, why would BDA accept a layout without any park or playground? When the BDA transferred the parks and playgrounds to the BBMP, why did the BBMP officials not object and refuse to take custody of these civic amenity sites?”

He said the BHCS Layout was riddled with politics. He termed the poor state of BHCS Layout on the tussle between the two heavyweights of BJP and Congress.

Worried over the pathetic state of his layout, Srivatsa P said, “Encroachment of parks and playgrounds is encouraged by politicians and realtors who usurp public property. Any number of complaints to the authorities are greeted with muted response. Some parks in the area are being used as a haven for unlawful activities and as a garbage dumpyard.”

‘Callous’ BBMP

The BBMP has made no effort to protect its properties. Many parks, playgrounds and open spaces in the city may have been encroached upon, but the Palike has not fenced them. Sources in the BBMP said the Palike has not utilised the Rs 9 crore earmarked in last year's budget, to fence its properties, especially open spaces. A senior BBMP official said despite sending many letters to joint commissioners at the zonal level to identify places where fencing is required, no action has been taken.

He added that complaints keep pouring in about encroachment of many public places in the city but there is hardly any response from zonal level officers. Many parks and playgrounds in prime areas are falling prey to land sharks, he said.

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