With plush malls, homes of celebrities and VIP-owned hospitals under scanner over encroachment of stormwater drain, the state government has taken a sudden U-turn in its strategy to carry out the demolition drive in Bengaluru.
"We will clear only those encroachments that are causing flooding during heavy rains. At least 29 acres along the major valleys have to be cleared. People need not panic on spotting the surveyors in their locality. They will only assess the situation. We don't want to be house breakers," said Law Minister T.B. Jayachandra on Wednesday after the issue was discussed in the cabinet meeting.
It may be recalled that the demolition spree in Bengaluru has already razed 200 houses and shops of the poor and the middle class. While the people who lost homes, NGOs and the opposition members accused the government of selective demolitions to spare the elite, the government has been found soft pedaling the issue.
Although the chief minister and ministers had assured that no encroacher would be spared, the government has now clarified that no survey will be carried out as per the 1908 or 1945 revenue maps.
The government has also maintained that there is a need to clear encroachments only along the 'live' drains and not 'dead' ones. This, however, has not gone down well with some people.
"I suspect demolishing poor man's house was for arm-twisting powerful builder mafia to pay them a hefty bribe. People and media are not fools not to understand this ploy,” said former corporator N.R. Ramesh.
The government is trying to save the properties in which Congress MLAs, leaders and builders have high stakes, alleged Ramesh, adding that the plush Dollars Colony BDA Layout in Lingannana Kere and Mantri Mall on Jakkarayanakere are a few examples.
"The elite are being protected by the government. But since 220 lakes in the city are inter-connected, not clearing encroachment along any of the lakes is bound to cause inundation," Ramesh pointed out.