news Wednesday, May 06, 2015 - 05:30

It has been a demolition drive like never before in Bengaluru. For more than two weeks, hundreds of illegal structures that had encroached upon lake beds were brought down by civic authorities. There is utter confusion as in many layouts, residents have alleged that they had purchased the land legally from civic authorities and were in possession of ownership documents. But the chaos and confusion is most apparent in a land row between the Forest Department in Karnataka and the Karnataka Industrial Areas and Development Board (KIADB), a classic example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. The Forest Department claims that 711 acres of land in Kadugodi belongs to the department and wants to demolish all “illegal” structures on this piece of land in Bengaluru’s Whitefield neighbourhood. The KIADB which converted a portion of this land into an industrial park has contested the First Department’s claim and says the land belongs to them. According to Somasundaram, advisor of Kadugodi Industries Association, the problem began in 1950 when the Forest Department transferred the land to the Defence forces for their use. After 10 years, the Defence gave away the land to SC/ST farmers for agricultural purposes. “However, the land from the farmers was brought by the KIADB after awarding compensation and over the years sites were allotted to industries who were looking to start their enterprise,” he told The News Minute. Now, the Forest Department claims that some of the industries have sold their land to private land grabbers since the land value is very high. The Forest Department has now filed a writ petition before the Karnataka High Court to declare 711 acres of the land as Reserve Forest. It further wants to demolish all the illegal structures that have been constructed over the years within this area. “Nobody knows whose fault it is and where did they go wrong, but somebody is at fault,” a source in the Forest Department said. Other cases of dispute Demolition drives around Sarakki lake grabbed headlines when the civic authorities brought down nearly all illegal structures, except those that were stayed by the court and religious structures. They reasoned that it would “hurt religious sentiments”. Residents blame the civic authorities for having allotted the land without verifying it from other civic agencies and now they were paying a heavy price for it. Days later, it was reported that the residents of HRBR layout were issued notices because the buildings were encroaching the Banaswadi lake bed. However, within this area, 222 sites were developed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and later sold. On Monday, notices were sent to the residents of upscale Dollars Colony in JP Nagar 7th phase for encroaching the Belikehalli lake. The residents claim that the BDA had approved the construction of the colony and they had been residing there for many years and the sudden notice has come as a rude shock to them. In all these areas, residents were living for many years, ranging from 10 years to 25 years or more. Today, residents and building owners are bearing the brunt of sheer negligence, lack of communication and coordination amongst civic agencies.