Wednesday, November 04, 2009

40TH WAKE-UP CALL FOR BBMP

40TH WAKE-UP CALL FOR BBMP
A techie had to make 40 calls to the civic body before it could act on a plaint on building violation allegedly committed by BBMP’s own man
ATUL CHATURVEDI


Just like an actor needs umpteen number of takes before he can deliver a perfect shot, the BBMP needed 40 calls before it could take ‘perfect action’ on a complaint.
A persistent software engineer required 40 calls to make the BBMP get its act together and crack down on a building violation in his neighbourhood. Tired of receiving calls from him, the BBMP finally halted the construction.
While the ‘protagonist’ in this story is Murali Govindarajulu, 28, a resident of Whitefield III Cross, the ‘villain’ is BBMP health inspector (Mahadevapura zone) Devaraj.
NO SETBACK AREA
Murali’s tryst with the civic agency began on Oct 3 when he found a concrete structure being built adjacent to his house in violation of building by-laws. While Devaraj excavated the earth, Murali realised no setback area had been earmarked.
Initial enquiries by him revealed the property belonged to a BBMP official. Murali, however, did not cow down. Instead, he lodged a complaint with the BBMP control room.
Murali told Bangalore Mirror, “The way the house has been built will block light to my home. Though rules stipulate there should be a setback area, my neighbour had constructed the wall in such a way it did not allow light into my house. How can we live without natural air or light?”
FRANTIC CALLS
When there was no response to his complaint, Murali started calling officials every day. “My worry was if construction crossed the lintel-level, the law of equity would come into effect and even the court might show sympathy to the builder keeping in mind the monetary loss he would incur. So I was making calls frantically,” he said.
PLAINT IN PERSON
But the BBMP sluggish in its response. After a week of calls, he got a reply asking to go in person and lodge the complaint. “They asked me to come despite the BBMP’s claim that people providing information on illegal construction have the option of not disclosing their identity,” he said.
Yet, Murali went ahead and filed a complaint both in Mahadevapura BBMP office as well as the zonal office at Whitefield. “I filed an RTI application on Oct 20 at the BBMP head office seeking details of the construction. All the while I kept making calls to the BBMP officials on a daily basis. I made calls not just to the control room but also to the engineer, assistant executive engineer and also to the additional commissioner,” he said.
MAIL CAMPAIGN
Murali also mailed the additional commissioner and the BBMP commissioner asking them to take action as the “construction was happening at a brisk pace”.
Realising that mails would result in delay, he started bombarding officials with calls. After a 40-call barrage, officials from the civic body visited the spot and ordered a halt to the construction.
BBMP LAX
Though Murali’s fight ensured a positive result, he felt some monetary loss to Devaraj could have been avoided had the BBMP acted more swiftly on his complaint.
Meanwhile, the BBMP has initiated a probe into the building violations. BBMP additional commissioner B Heeranayak (Mahadevapura zone) said, “I got the complaint and calls from Murali. Following this, I stopped the construction after giving direction to the engineers to take necessary action. I’ve told engineers to check violations and demolish unauthorised constructions at the earliest.”

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