Bangalore, June 21;Commercial establishments continue to mushroom in residential zones of Koramangala, despite an unambiguous order of the Karnataka High Court over a year and a half ago, banning any further commercial activity there.
Officials of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, which is the enforcing authority, are either hand in glove with those who violate the law, or look the other way, complain residents.
The damage was already done by the time the residents’ welfare association of Koramangala joined hands with the Citizens’ Action Forum and went to court in 2008 seeking an end to the rapid commercial activity in designated residential areas. Hundreds of shops, restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and malls had come up with apparent impunity when the residents went to court challenging the BDA’s Master Plan 2015, which allowed commercial activity in residential areas.
Recognising the need to keep residential zones separate, the High Court granted the petitioners temporary relief by passing an interim order in January 2012 that “no further permission will be granted for redevelopment and reconstruction, except for the residential user”.
This order of the High Court is followed mostly in violation, says Radha Krishna, residents’ welfare activist in the neighbourhood. He says that despite the court’s stricture many commercial establishments continue to operate in the heart of the residential areas with plan approvals from the BBMP.
For instance, a large commercial building was granted a plan approval by the BBMP after the High Court order. “When we trooped to the BBMP office and demanded an explanation, the plan sanction was quickly revoked,” he says.
But the owner went to a local court, claiming the BBMP was trying to demolish his structure and secured a stay. Armed with the stay order, he continued construction. “The BBMP did not even file objections in the court to vacate the stay order. This is the level of their complicity with these violations,” says Dr. Krishna.
A contempt application filed recently by the petitioners against the BBMP for sanctioning commercial plans in residential areas, in violation of the court order, has not had an impact either. Vijayan Menon, another resident activist from the area, says commercial activity is continuing unabated. “They have basically stopped seeking sanction from the civic authority to build commercial centres. And the authorities are keeping quiet. It is complete jungle raj.”
No plans sanctioned
When contacted, BBMP Commissioner Laxminarayana insisted no plans of commercial establishments were sanctioned in residential areas since the interim order of the High Court.