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Mosquitoes, snakes find breeding grounds in Bengaluru's neglected vacant sites

Over 10 per cent of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA)-developed sites remain vacant. Owners have not built houses on these sites, although they were allocated anywhere between 10 and 50 years ago.
Last Updated : 27 June 2024, 19:47 IST

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Bengaluru: Heavy rains and rising dengue cases have Bengaluru residents near vacant sites on edge.

Overgrown weeds, overflowing garbage, and being used as an open toilet make these sites breeding grounds for mosquitoes, rodents, and snakes. Residents feel endangered, but policymakers' inaction has let the problem persist.

Over 10 per cent of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA)-developed sites remain vacant. Owners have not built houses on these sites, although they were allocated anywhere between 10 and 50 years ago.

Residents complain that vacant sites, rather than offering better ventilation to immediate neighbours, have become a health hazard. Some say the BDA has a provision to reclaim the site if the house is not built within five years of allotment. Others want the civic body to maintain the vacant sites and include the expenses in the property tax.

"We are living with a constant fear of catching one disease or the other,” said 86-year-old CM Subbaiah, a senior citizen from HRBR Layout and founder of the Federation of North-East Residents' Welfare Association.

He recalled how one member of his family lost her life to dengue and two others were diagnosed with the same vector-borne disease as they live next to an unmaintained vacant site. "I, too, was left physically handicapped after suffering from chikungunya," he added.

Subbaiah has reached out to everyone from the Chief Minister to the BBMP and Lokayukta to get their attention on the less-talked-about issue, but said laws exist on either the authorities taking back the sites or penalising the owners.

A Vidyaranyapura resident recalled instances of snakes slithering into their house from the neighbouring vacant site. It stopped only after the site was turned into temporary stay for migrants.

A vacant site in HRBR Layout Kalyan Nagar. DH PHOTO/PUSHKAR V
A vacant site in HRBR Layout Kalyan Nagar. DH PHOTO/PUSHKAR V

BBMP Chief Commissioner Tushar Girinath said the civic body has powers to penalise owners for failing to maintain cleanliness. “We have done it once, but not succeeded in creating awareness,” he said.

Noting that it is impossible to take back allotted sites, BDA Commissioner N Jayaram said the Lokayukta is hearing a case related to vacant sites. “If they pass orders, we will implement it.”

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Published 27 June 2024, 19:47 IST

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