‘Development’! This term sends chills down my spine these days! I want to just run away from this once beautiful city of Bengaluru which is being ransacked from all sides.  As I drive past any highway, it is nauseating to see huge hoardings of various builders – 3 BHK, 4 BHK apartments/villas with all modern facilities such as gyms, parks, swimming pools, clubs, malls and what not for sale starting from Rs.1 crore!  

‘Crore’ was a figure which I saw only in a bank’s day book when I worked for a Bank!  But today all Tom, Dick and Harry are Crorepathis! The pictures on the hoardings show very posh structures and swanky surroundings. The hoardings themselves proclaim ‘project cleared by BMRDA, BDA and BBMP.’  

Crime rate is increasing and with most of the younger generation having gone away to yonder lands in search of educational and occupational opportunities, the senior citizens left behind find it very cumbersome and dangerous living in huge independent bungalows.

When the builder leaves you midway

So, they sell away their beautiful heritage homes and prefer to shift to smaller apartments/villas in gated communities where they have security. And that’s what they think! The homes that they sell too face miserable ends from the hammers of greedy land-sharks. In a place where just five or six people resided once, a huge complex housing 60 to 100 residents come up! The roads are clogged, garbage mounds on the roadside grow, water becomes scarce and noise and air pollution reaches peaks.  

The senior citizens then invest the money in gated communities and what happens? Everything is very romantic until they occupy the houses and the builder takes care of the maintenance. Once the builder leaves the project, starts the problem. Many shortcomings of the project come to light thereafter.

Suddenly the RWAs (Resident Welfare Associations) start receiving notices from various Government authorities stating that so many rules have been deviated, illegal structures have been built, encroachment has been made, charges under various heads have not been paid up and so on.  Now, the builder has left. The RWAs are left to handle all this.

Breaching the trust of people

The owners have bought the homes trusting the builder who also gives them so many documents in support of having executed the project purely as per law. Major public sector and private sector banks also have lent their money both to the builders and the purchasers. Occupancy certificate is issued by the concerned authority.

Then, what is the meaning of all this? How can the authorities themselves go back on their own clearance certificates? Should they not have raised all the objections before issuing the certificates and before the builder is permitted to sell the property to innocent buyers? What happens to the Banks and these buyers when the BBMP demolishes structures or demands lakhs of rupees as dues/penalty from the buyers?

In the first place, individuals can hardly understand the involvement of so many departments of the same Government and the level of coordination among the departments. All they feel is that Government is one!

Trusted by all, still illegal?

The builder marches on and goes on developing project after project. Are all individual buyers so proficient to read between lines of all the documents, call for all information under RTI from all departments and then decide to invest? When institutions like Banks themselves have invested, they trust the builder and the Banks and invest. They do not have the time or energy to do all that a full time builder does. Neither is it so easy for individuals to get things done through all the departments.  That is one of the reasons why they went in for such gated communities.  

Projects of prominent builders like Mantri and Sobha themselves are in the news for receiving demolition notices from BBMP. What about the other small builders who are mushrooming all over the city? Who is taking care of all this? Whose responsibility is it?

25-30 feet roads are being lined up by huge apartment complexes on either side.  Which visionary has issued clearance for such projects?  Even a layman can say what the fate of the residents will be a few years from now! When 8-lane roads are getting clogged by the ever-increasing traffic, how can such narrow lanes take the traffic coming out of all those complexes?

Impractical rules breed illegality

BWSSB and BBMP can make rules such as – the complexes have to make their own arrangements for garbage disposal and water. But how practical are such rules? First of all the complexes are built, covering every inch of the land, leaving no space for even a blade of grass.  Then where are they going to separate garbage and treat it? As a result garbage mounds are found on so many corners of the city.  And water! Many of the complexes are depending upon water tankers, which is only helping the water mafia get stronger!

To add to such woes of daily living, the owners and residents have to also handle the legal notices they receive from all and sundry departments of the Government, who were supposed to have cleared the projects in the first place. You try just taking up a small repair work in your individual house and get just a pot-load of sand. The BBMP men arrive promptly on the next day, seeking for all kinds of legal documents permitting you to take that up.

But BBMP cannot see the deviations and encroachments that are happening right under their nose in huge projects. Not even when some Government authority issues occupancy certificates, which they are supposed to issue only after physical inspection! Huge lakes and vast tracts of agricultural lands have vanished. Nobody knew! How ironical. It is like hiding an elephant in a small basket!

Chaos because of Khata

Even after purchasing the property by paying up the entire cost, the purchaser is not issued a valid Khata transferred in his name. He keeps paying the tax based on his individual purchase deed and joint Khata issued to the builder supposedly under a scheme of ‘B-Khata’, about which varying clarifications keep coming up in newspapers – ‘there is no such thing as ‘B-Khata’; A-Khata will be issued only after bifurcation; there is only a Khata and nothing called ‘A’ or ‘B’ Khata.  

The department’s website also does not address this issue. Then what is the actual position as on date? Why is the Khata not bifurcated even after the project is completed and before the sale of any single unit? How can the Government permit sale of property which has no clear-cut bifurcated katha in the name of individual units?

Illegal money for the government?

It is apprehended that under such circumstances, the registered sale could result in levy of double taxation on the individual unit (tax in the name of the project and tax in the name of the individual unit notionally based on undefined B-Khata practice). This amounts to unlawful gain to the Government and a chronic pain in the neck of the purchaser until the Khata bifurcation is done, which gets delayed indefinitely for various reasons which can be understood only by the Government!

It is high time the Chief Minister himself intervenes and ensures that all the rights of all his citizens are well protected. We are not living in anarchy. There are rules and guidelines laid down. Then where is the lacuna? The implementers have to be questioned. The poor purchaser, who trusted the Government departments and the builder who lures him with his swanky ads/brochures and tall talks by smart sales personnel, is definitely not the defaulter. His welfare has to be taken care of by the Government, as he pays all his taxes, cesses and charges promptly to the various departments.