Don't raze buildings, just divertdrains, panel directs government

Don't raze buildings, just divertdrains, panel directs government

Instead of knocking down giant structures blocking half of Bengaluru's big stormwater drains, an Assembly panel has asked the government to divert the channels around them.

A report tabled at the ongoing Assembly session by the committee on lake encroachments has noted that 501 acres of drains (or rajakaluves) have been intruded by buildings, some of which belongs to politicians like former minister Shamanur Shivashankarappa and film star Darshan.

The report also mentioned that Bengaluru has 1,090 km  of rajakaluves.

"The government can explore the possibility of diverting rajakaluves, if possible, instead of razing big buildings," said Assembly Speaker K B Koliwad, also the head of the lake encroachment panel.

"While diverting the drain, authorities have to ensure its water flow capacity is the same as the original rajakaluve," he added.

Koliwad said authorities could look at diverting the drain around the hospital at Rajarajeshwari Nagar belonging to senior Congress leader Shivashankarappa, which  allegedly stands over a stormwater drain.

Where diversion is not possible, the government should clear the structure blocking the rajakaluves "without compassion", the Speaker said.

In a demolition drive last year, the BBMP razed 140 buildings occupying parts of a 29-acre stormwater drain. A few of those buildings had to be entirely removed to clear the channel.

"We asked homeowners to allow space abutting their properties to divert the drain," BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad said. "It is okay to divert the drains so long as it allows free flow of water."

Koliwad said the House committee has 10,000 pages of documents. "It took three hours for us to submit our report," he said. "We had 300 surveyors working on the sketches of the lakes. Our report will be an encyclopedia of water bodies."

When asked why the report had failed to name politicians who had known links with the realty sector, Koliwad said it was out of the panel's scope.

The Speaker assured that the panel would prevail on the government to implement its recommendation. "We have fulfilled our responsibilities. (Now) we would like the executive to act on our report," he said.

The Speaker expressed outrage over the Bangalore Development Authority's encroachment of 23 lakes in violation of norms. "It built layouts and allotted sites in Bengaluru North, Bengaluru South and Bengaluru East taluks," he said.

Koliwad challenged BJP MLA S Suresh Kumar to reveal the reasons for his resignation from the House committee. "He quit, citing some hush-hush happenings  in the committee," he said, adding, "Let him expose what happened."

Kumar quit the committee in December 2016, expressing unhappiness over its style of functioning.

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