Nearly four months after the Karnataka High Court asked the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to look into a complaint over encroachment of storm-water drains in Bengaluru, the BBMP Commissioner on Thursday sought responses from all parties concerned.
This action on the part of BBMP officials comes after a contempt of court notice was issued to the Commissioner on 14 December.
Samarpana -a city-based NGO that works towards providing civic amenities- had in August this year moved the Karnataka High Court against the Brigade Enterprises Ltd, G. Stand Hotels Ltd and ETA Karnataka Estates Ltd for encroachment on rajakaluve (storm-water drains).
According to the petitioner, Brigade Enterprises Ltd had reportedly encroached on three acres and 20 guntas of rajakaluve, when it built the Orion Mall at Rajajinagar.
The HC had then given BBMP three months’ time to look into the said complaint. With the deadline falling on 03 December and BBMP failing to adhere to the court's directive, a contempt of court notice was served on BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad.
The Commissioner was hence left with no choice but to call a meeting with representatives of the NGO and the three builders.
While both Brigade Enterprises and G Stand Hotels submitted documents to prove that they had not encroached on government land, ETA Karnataka Estates have asked for four days' time to furnish the necessary documents.
Even as Manjunath maintains that BBMP cannot go on a demolition spree based on mere allegations, Shivakumar Hosmane -joint secretary of Smarpana- told The News Minute that there was no need for the BBMP to convene a meeting at this stage.
"Even when hundreds of houses were demolished across the city over encroachment of storm-water drains, big wigs like the Orion Mall have been safeguarded. All we demand is that BBMP take action against all defaulters, irrespective of their financial background," says Shivakumar.
He points out that he filed nearly nine RTI applications between 2008-16 to get more information on the encroachment by Orion Mall: "The minutes of the BBMP council meeting in 2011 clearly show that they knew about the encroachment and still did not act on it. We had included all these documents to back our claims before the court."
Refuting Shivakumar's arguments, Manjunath told The News Minute that the former had failed to back his claims and declined to co-operate in the meeting.
Explaining the delay in taking up the issue, Manjunath asserts that BBMP had ordered for resurvey of the land soon after the HC order, but needs more time to verify the same.
With the BBMP officials set to meet on 28 December for further discussion on the matter, they plan to approach the court seeking more time to look into the issue.