Bengaluru: The Bengaluru civic agency has identified several illegal structures that have come up on stormwater drains, which had recently caused severe flooding in parts of the city, particularly information technology (IT) corridors and arterial roads.
The anti-encroachment drive echoed in the state assembly as well.
Speaking in the House on Wednesday, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai reiterated that there will not be any discrimination in the drive to free illegal occupants of stormwater drains.
According to an Assistant Executive Engineer (Stormwater Drain-Mahadevapura zone) of the BBMP, Bagmane Techpark, Wipro, and Purva Paradise have encroached on drains across various survey numbers of Mahadevapura zone, which bore the brunt of the rain fury.
Real estate firm RBD was another encroacher which occupied drains in Junnasandra, Halanayakanahalli and Doddakannahalli, as per the list, along with ‘Ecospace’ in Bellandur and Gopalan Group in Hoodi and Bellandur, the AEE stated.
Bellandur has the biggest lake of the city, which has shrunk due to rampant encroachment.
Other alleged encroachers are: Adarsha, Columbia Asia Hospital, New Horizon College, Adarsha Retreat, Epsilon, Divyashree, Prestige, Salarpuria and Nalapad.
BBMP Chief Commissioner Tushar Giri Nath said the civic body will first serve notices to the owners of the buildings who have built structures on the drains and after their response, it will take up action appropriately.
Chief Minister Bommai, while speaking in the Assembly, said he has given clear directions to the BBMP Chief Commissioner and other officials not to succumb to any pressure.
Two weeks before the torrential rains in Bengaluru, the Assistant Executive Engineer of the stormwater drain division had cautioned his superiors about the encroachment by “powerful people” in his letter dated August 17.
The AEE had apparently indicated possible flooding and its fallout on the IT corridor. The list was prepared on the oral instructions of the Zonal Commissioner of Mahadevapura.
According to government officials, there were 1,953 encroachment of stormwater drains, of which over 1,300 have been removed.
The BBMP, however, could not reclaim the drains in over 630 encroachment sites as residential buildings, apartments, firms, schools and hospitals have come up there, they said.
Most of them are located in Mahadevapura and Bommanahalli zone whereas the survey of encroachment in the illegal layouts in Yelahanka is underway.
According to them, Yelahanka zone has maximum illegal layouts. Last year, Yelahanka had witnessed flooding after which some major encroachments were removed.
BBMP officials said the total length of the stormwater drain network in the city is 860 kilometres. However, in most cases, the width of the major drains get reduced from 60 feet to a mere 10 or 20 feet following construction of illegal structures due to which flooding happened, they added.
“If the width is not brought back to its previous shape, then this problem will persist,” a BBMP lake division official said.
The civic body continued its anti-encroachment drive for the third day on Wednesday following the floods that caused a major uproar prompting the government to act tough in clearing buildings that blocked stormwater drains.
The BBMP said it carried out anti-encroachment drives in Shantiniketan Layout, Papaiah Reddy Layout and Challaghatta in Mahadevapura zone and Satellite Town in Yelahanka.
Chief Minister Bommai said, “We have started this encroachment removal drive. We will not discriminate against anyone. The Karnataka Lokayukta has directed us to follow the due procedure of law, which we will do.” However, he said demolishing houses is not an “achievement”. He insisted upon finding a solution to the problem instead of blaming others.
The Chief Minister’s reaction came after JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy alleged that the city faced the consequences of “killing the lakes” to build bus stands and other structures on them.
The former chief minister blamed the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) for the disappearance of many lakes in the city and flooding.
He also took a dig at the Congress for their march in Karnataka for a balancing reservoir on Mekedatu saying that had the lakes been saved, there was no need for Cauvery water in the city.
“Once, there were more than 1,000 lakes in the city. If we had saved them all, our water requirement would have been met but we did not do that. The Mekedatu padayatra was also not needed,” Kumaraswamy said.