Votes before demolition?
About 174 illegal religious structures were identified for demolition and 16 were razed amidst public uproar last year. Now, fearing a dip in votes, BBMP authorities to regularise the remaining structures to woo voters.
The palike had earlier conducted a massive demolition drive to raze about 174 illegal religious structures, but has suddenly put the drive on the back burner for obvious reasons. Following SC's direction to raze all illegal structures, irrespective of nature of establishment, the BBMP demolished around 16 religious structures in eight zones last year, but they had to face a massive public uproar.
Now, fearing a dip in votes, BBMP's elected representatives have planned to regularise the remaining illegal religious structures, in an effort to woo voters as they wish to be re-elected next session, which is three years from now. The sudden turn of events has brought some criticism to BBMP Commissioner H Siddhaiah, and raised questions of contempt of court.
On watch: BBMP Commissioner H Siddaiah took to the streets on
Tuesday night to inspect roads, parks and other on-going construction
works in the city
Siddhaiah who had signed the document to regularise illegal structures, refused to comment on the issue when contacted. C K Ramamurthy, chairman, Town Planning Committee however said, "The Supreme Court issued a direction stating that community sentiments need to be respected and so we have held meetings with our council regarding this matter. We have made suggestion that these illegal structures should be regularised and the corporation would be made the owner of these properties."
Meanwhile, a large majority of the corporators chose to respond to questions as delicately as possible.
"We should appreciate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his decision of razing all structures that come in the way of development. But the Corporation is not like Janardana Reddy, who razed a temple, which was in the way of his venture. This is a money spinning game and some people would not want to bring down illegal structures just to please their respective lobbies -- but it is not right," said R Sampath Raj, corporator.
Regarding the motives of the BBMP commissioner and others who have a say in the matter, Narashima Murthy, a legal expert, who is filing a PIL against the palike, said the decision was clearly in contempt of court.
"When the SC clearly stated that illegal structures, including religious ones, should be demolished, why is the BBMP trying to regularise them? This clearly amounts to contempt of court. I will be filing a PIL against the BBMP, because they are going against the law to safeguard their own votes," he said.
Over the fence?
>> N Srirama Reddy, a Bangalore-based advocate has filed a PIL at the Karnataka High Court against Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for allegedly illegally encroaching upon the Udipalyakere tank land and constructing buildings in Kagglipura in Bangalore south taluk.
>> A division bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri is hearing the matter.
Wait and watch
u BBMP had demolished 16 illegal religious structures, but halted all proceedings post SC's direction dated 7-12-2009. The Palike was then instructed to monitor the situation on all such religious structures.