Monday, November 19, 2007

Sakrama: Regularise, be at peace

Sakrama: Regularise, be at peace
DH News Service, Bangalore:
Taking note of the number of people who called and visited Deccan Herald to clear doubts about Sakrama from BBMP Deputy Commissioner (Resources) Vasanth Rao on Saturday, the Palike has decided to introduce a hotline service at Raos office from November 20. Senior officials will receive calls from the public and answer queries about Sakrama from 11 am to 1 pm everyday for one month. The hotline number will be advertised in newspapers on November 20.

The right to ask was on full play on Saturday, when Bangaloreans took the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on with questions on the Palike’s much-touted regularisation programme, Sakrama.

Deccan Herald hosted Vasantha Rao, Deputy Commissioner (Resources), BBMP and his team as they fielded questions on the regularisation scheme on telephone, e-mail and in person.

Three-odd hours of interaction later, the officials were almost ready to move on but the citizens looked far from done. While the questions were by and large pegged to individual, specific issues, there was also serious criticism of the very idea of regularisation.

Rao’s response was: “BBMP is only an implementing agency and we are only following a government policy and legislation.”

Through Sakrama, people can apply for regularisation of their illegal sites and buildings by paying a fee. The scheme covers all sites and buildings formed and constructed before February 3, 2007. The BBMP will collect the applications till December 14, 2007.

During the in-person interaction, the citizens’ confusion with regard to the various aspects of Sakrama was evident, even as the BBMP team maintained that the Rs 100 booklet on the scheme was comprehensive and reader-friendly. And one key issue — of administrative failure in checking the violation when it happened — was not addressed either.

Rao was clear in his stance on properties that violated building bye-laws and other laws: Illegal sites and constructions have to be regularised. No deadline extension. No fee reduction.

He addressed the citizens’ call for transparency in the BBMP functioning by constantly referring them to the BBMP website and the Palike’s information kiosks. “There’s no need for you to rely on rumours and hearsay, when we have a system in place to address all your queries,” he said.

Acknowledging the residents’ difficulties in arranging funds for the regularisation fee, Rao, however, pointed out that Sakrama was a policy decision that had to be implemented. And the advantage? “You will now have an authorised site, that’s as good as a BDA site,” was the answer.

Rao chose against answering specific questions on individual properties.

While taking on criticism that the BBMP help desks were just providing information leaflets and that low-rung officials were themselves oblivious to the Sakrama’s finer points, Rao said people were free to “walk in” and meet any senior official including the Commissioner.


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