Ashok Nagar gasps for air amid choking congestion


Several new buildings, especially commercial spaces, are coming up without the setbacks of appropriate dimensions, despite already existing congestion.

By Niket Nishant

Despite the infamous congestion in Bengaluru, many buildings without the stipulated setbacks are coming up in the city, especially in the excessively commercialised areas of Mahatma Gandhi Road and Church Street in Ashok Nagar.

The Bangalore Building bye-law 9.2 makes it mandatory for any residential, commercial or public building above 9.5 metres in height to have a setback   of at least 4.5 metres radius, which can go up to 16 metres with the increase in height of the building. The law came into effect in 2004. However, in spite of the many existing buildings in violation of this law, new ones can still be seen coming up. 

Due to the increase in population and demand for more residential spaces the law could never be strictly implemented, officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) say.

Mr. Syed Rafique of BBMP, Ashok Nagar said, “The metropolitan nature of the city has made it difficult to make sure that these rules are always followed. There is a huge demand for land for residential spaces and also for malls, offices and the like. And there is no way to arrest the rise in this demand.”

The 2011 Census puts the population of Bengaluru at 84.43 lakh. This is the third most populous in the country, after Mumbai (12.44 lakh) and Delhi (11.03 lakh).

An employee of the K Raheja Corp said, “Before 2003 there was no rule stipulating setbacks so we rarely had them. They would also eat up space. However, now that there is a law, we do have them but it is minimal. We only leave enough space to distinguish between two buildings.”

Mr. Manohar Pattar, Associate General Manager of the Verve Group of Architects, Planners and Engineers Private Limited, reiterates the concern of the BBMP. “How is the city supposed to keep up with the rapid influx of population?” he asks. “The infrastructure has to keep up with the population of the city. And though congestion will be an unwanted by-product, it cannot be avoided.”

It remains to be seen how the civic authorities deal with the choking congestion in the city.