Under pressure to act, the Karnataka government has proposed punishments, including imprisonment, for offences and negligences committed by BBMP officials and engineers who allow illegal construction in their jurisdictional areas. The government submitted a draft gazette notification at the Karnataka High Court division bench on Wednesday, headed by Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice S Sujatha as part of the proceedings in the public interest litigation filed by Bengaluru-based advocate S Umapathi earlier this month.
In his petition, Umapathi pointed out that the state government has not yet laid out punishments for jurisdictional officers when they fail to prevent unauthorised construction, even though officers found guilty are liable for punishment as per Section 321B of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976. The petition further stated that despite being pulled up by the High Court on a number of occasions since 2013, the government has not acted. As a result, erring BBMP officials have been given protection, the petition said.
Violation of building laws have allegedly caused multiple deaths, including construction workers and others in Bengaluru, reportedly owing to the widespread disregard for the law and poor enforcement from officials. At least 10 persons have died due to collapse of buildings in Bengaluru out of which majority were illegally constructed, according to reports.
To curb the prevalence of illegal buildings in Bengaluru, the state government in 2013 had launched the infamous Akrama Sakrama scheme which aimed to regularise certain unauthorised buildings with payment of a single penalty. The scheme was later stayed by the Supreme Court.
The current government draft specifies punishment for 52 various offences under the Karnataka Municipal Council Act, 1976 and building bye-laws, ranging from imposition of penalty to imprisonment of two years and a penalty of Rs 50,000 against BBMP engineers and officials found guilty. The draft, dated November 27, can be objected to or debated by the public till December 27, the government told the court on Wednesday. Such deliberations can be addressed by the public to the Additional Chief Secretary to Government, Urban Development Department, Room No 436, Vikasa Soudha at Dr BR Ambedkar Veedhi, Bengaluru 560001.