Shopkeepers deny any encroachment, but commuters complain of traffic woes.
Commuters face heavy traffic on the narrow Nagavarapalya Main Road due to makeshift sheds and extended shop areas by shopkeepers on that road.
Sampada, a school teacher, leaves for work at 7.10 a.m. Her school starts at 8.00 am and in an ideal world, it would have taken her 25 minutes to ride to school on her scooter but due to the heavy traffic she has to leave early. She said, “The shopkeepers have expanded their shops onto the road and thus the road is very narrow. This has increased the congestion on the road.”
The Karnataka Municipal Corporation (KMC) Act, 1976 allows the Commissioner of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to remove any obstructions or projections on the streets and other public places. The BBMP issues a notice to the person who has created any obstruction. In case a criminal proceeding is to be initiated, the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) is brought on board.
The Superintendent of Police (BMTF), Mr. Oblesh B. N. said, “Temporary encroachments include digging bore-wells, putting up sheds and tables outside the area of the building. Permanent encroachments involve any sort of construction outside the area of the building and a case is registered under the KMC Act, 1976, for the same. The charges are filed once the surveyor surveys the area and confirms that the issue is a case of encroachment.”
A metal staircase in front of a tent shop, constructed on the footpath leads up to the owner’s house. The tent shop owner, who refused to divulge his identity, said that he obtained the shop on lease. Next door, a general store is also on lease to the same owner. The people who ran both these shops said they had been staying there for the past 20 years, and the staircase has been there since then. The owner of the shops refused to comment about the staircase.
Another owner of a stationery shop, whose shed extended beyond the area of the building said, “We have been here for 33 years. This shed is not illegal. There is drain that runs in front of this shop. The road starts from where the drain ends. Our shed does not occupy the road.”
Dr. V. Ramesh, the HOD of the Civil Engineering Department of Rajarajeshwari Engineering College said, “Such encroachments take place all over the city. Rajajinagar, Vijaynagar and Malleswaram are the recent examples where BBMP had to take action. These narrow streets were never meant for heavy traffic. The shopkeepers have been living like this for many years but the issue is being highlighted now as the rate of urbanization around the areas is not at par with the efficiency of town planning.”
Mr. Oblesh said, “Staircases and buildings can be categorised as permanent encroachments. The case needs to be reported to the Assistant Executive Engineer of that ward. If the accused person refuses to heed the warnings issued by the BBMP, BMTF enters the picture. Since there hasn’t been any report against any such encroachment, nothing can be done.”
Executive Engineer Mr. Vishwanath said that once the surveyor had affirmed the encroachment, the owners need to be provided with compensation. “After the removal of encroachments, the widening of the road will have to be done. Tenders will be given out for the same,” he added.