Monsoon sets in, but SWD encroachment removal faces hurdles

Monsoon sets in, but SWD encroachment removal faces hurdles

'Political interference' major reason for slow pace of work

Monsoon sets in, but SWD encroachment removal faces hurdles

Monsoon has set in, but BBMP’s stormwater drain (SWD) encroachment removal drive has almost stopped.
For the past four months, there are no regular updates on the encroachment removal drive, triggering fear that heavy rains would again cause flooding in many parts of Bengaluru like last year.

An officer in the BBMP’s SWD division said the work is on, but not on a big scale.

“We are presently creating SWDs at places where these drains existed once and now vacant sites have come up or sheds have been built. We are creating gradients for rainwater to flow.” The officer said the focus is not on demolishing big buildings or houses.

BBMP’s slow pace of work has drawn angry reaction from residents whose houses were razed without any prior notice at Avani Sringerinagar.

“Why were our houses demolished in a hurry when other bigwigs encroaching upon SWDs are still comfortable? Why (film actor) Darshan’s house and SS Hospital (run by Shamanur Shivashankarappa’s family) are not touched?
Is it because they are influential people and have a say in the government?” questioned a resident of Avani Sringerinagar.

An officer associated with the encroachment removal drive blamed political interference as the major reason behind the slow pace of work.

“Political pressure is hindering our work. We need to get approvals at multiple levels,” said the officer.
H C Ananthaswamy, former chief engineer in BBMP, said the challenge is recovering land in the face of large-scale encroachment. “Things will improve only if government takes a strong decision,” Ananthaswamy said.

BBMP commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said the biggest challenge is reclaiming encroached land and land acquisition. He, however, pointed out that encroachment removal drive is on and work on remodelling drains is afoot in areas prone to flooding.