Zonal regulations, a sinister move

Zonal regulations, a sinister move

The new “zonal regulations” proposed by the Town and Country Planning Department of the Karnataka Urban Development Department (UDD) smack of a cynical and sinister move by the officials backed by top bureaucrats and politicians to permit rampant commercial activities in what are essentially residential areas across the state. Another proposal mooted by the department to allow additional built-up area to citizens who cough up a ‘premium’ floor area ratio (FAR), together will most certainly guarantee that Karnataka will end up being an urban jungle with abysmal living conditions. In a shocking disregard of civic norms and even solemn commitment made to the Karnataka High Court with regard to similar objections raised earlier, the government plans to allow shops and businesses on roads which are just 30 ft wide. The existing rules do not permit commercial activities in areas classified as ‘residential main,’ irrespective of the width of the road. In areas categorised as ‘residential mixed,’ businesses were not allowed if the roads are narrower than 40 ft. Doing away with these regulations will be disastrous as shops can come up in every small lane, making life hell for the residents. Assurances by officials that they will allow only ‘essential services’ like milk booths, tea stalls and bakeries, are nothing but an eye-wash. The government should forthwith withdraw this proposal as it has a duty to protect the interests of all citizens.

Currently, the FAR is based on the width of road, and there is only ‘permissible’ FAR and no ‘premium’ FAR. The premium rate proposed by the government is so high that on a plot measuring 1,200 sq ft (a 30x40 site), an additional 1,800 sq ft will be permitted at a huge premium of Rs 12 lakh. It’s a huge burden on common people. Besides, making FAR common to the entire state is not practical as each town has its own distinct features. Obviously, the government is acting under pressure from builders and the proposal should be dropped.

The residents’ welfare associations, which were completely kept in the dark about these proposals, are naturally up in arms. They have held protest meetings and plan to petition the chief minister, requesting that these pernicious proposals be withdrawn. What is most galling is that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) which had given an undertaking to the high court to vacate commercial establishments from residential areas and even issued notices to around 300 units, has done a complete volte face, obviously under pressure from local corporators and traders. The government should cry halt to this and ask the UDD to withdraw the proposal.
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