BDA can’t auction, divert CA sites

The CA site in Girinagar where Ramachandrapura Math is putting up construction. DH PHOTO

The Bangalore Development Authority’s (BDA) plan to auction its civic amenity sites across the city is wrong and ill-advised. There are 1,365 CA sites in Bengaluru and it is estimated that they will fetch Rs 30,000-35,000 crore to the government. According to the proposal, the BDA will make an offer to all lease-holders that they can buy the sites at market rates. It also wants to auction some 70 sites whose lease has expired. It hopes to collect about Rs 1,000 crore from this. But it is surprising that the proposal is being considered at all. 

Civic amenity sites are integral parts of BDA layouts. They provide some basic facilities to the residents. The BDA Act defines the amenities as a market, a school, a hospital, a bus depot, etc., which support the social, educational and cultural life of the residents. According to BDA rules, 10% of the area of each layout is set apart as CA sites. These should be maintained in public interest and should not be alienated and misused for money or other considerations. There have been court judgements that disallow the use of CA sites for purposes other than that intended. The issue, however, is not just one of legality. It concerns the responsibility of a public body like the BDA to the residents. The residents have the right to continue to enjoy the facilities promised and provided to them at the time of allotment. Auctioning away a CA site is like auctioning a road in the layout. 

It is stated that the money from the CA sites is to be used to fund the government’s budgetary proposals, like the farmers’ loan waiver scheme. Before going in for the waiver, which was itself a wrong idea, the government should have found the resources for it. It should not be implemented by selling family silver, and the BDA should not get into real estate business. The citizens should protest against the proposal if the BDA goes ahead with it, as they have done in the case of other wrong plans like building unnecessary flyovers, privatisation of roads, spoiling lakes, cutting down trees, etc. The government and the civic authorities have a poor record in raising legitimate resources and a remarkable record in wasting public money and pursuing bad projects and proposals. In fact, there is a growing demand to convert CA sites into parks and playgrounds as the city has a shortage of open spaces. There is at least some public purpose in the demand. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who is also Bengaluru Development minister, must instruct BDA Commissioner Rakesh Singh to drop the plan to auction CA sites.

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BDA can’t auction, divert CA sites

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