Wednesday, August 04, 2010

BBMP's markings leave them re-faced

BBMP's markings leave them re-faced

No options for middle-class people who have invested all their savings in homes

Shilpa CB



Till recently, the single-lane Uttarahalli Main Road crammed with residential and commercial buildings was on an expansion mode with builders frantically at work on apartments, complexes and schools. Suddenly, BBMP's paint brush ticked them off with its ominous announcement.
Property may be lost to road widening but builders are not scrambling for alternatives as there seems to be none,especially for scores of middle-class people who have all their savings invested in homes.
Occupants of apartment buildings that are recent addition to this neighbourhood are angry and confused. What is the sanctity of legal documents, they ask. Why was sanction given for new structures if the BBMP was planning to widen the roads? It is atrocious and incomprehensible, they say.
"We've put in all my husband's retirement funds into this house. It cost us Rs35lakh. We spent Rs2 lakh on registration and an additional Rs2 lakh on the wardrobes and other carpentry work. And it is not even one year since we moved in. Where will we go now," asks Vatsala Balakrishna, a resident of Vasundara Apartments.
Every occupant of the 12 apartments in this three-storied building has similar question to ask. "We pay Rs40,000 as EMI towards the loan that we took to buy this house. If we lose the house, we will have to move out to a rented accommodation and continue to pay the installments and rent as well. That's not possible," says Srinivasa Pundarika, a BPO employee who shares the house with his wife, brother and mother.
The family owns the flat at the back of the building, away from the road and it does not occupy the 132 sq m land that the BBMP is demanding from property owners. But demolition of even part of the building will prove destructive to the entire structure, they say.
"The lift is in front and the staircase too. What use will this building be to us minus these amenities? Our neighbours will lose their bedroom and kitchen. Moreover, during the demolition, the entire building may shake. It may not withstand the impact," says Saroja Srinivasa. Manorama Shenoy, who lives on the first floor, says a strong building with all amenities will be unnecessarily destroyed. Nityashree Sankalpa and Bindu Aparna, neighbours in Brigade Residency, echo their concerns.
"We thought we'd invest here and live peacefully. That wasn't to be. Overnight, our building was marked. That was the beginning of a nightmare," says T Rajagopal, a chartered accountant who lives on the first floor of the three-year-old Nityashree Sankala building.
BBMP's notice has left owners of the 36 flats in the building shaken. Rajagopal spent Rs27 lakh on his apartment. The few who want to sell it are unable to do so as buyers are shying away from the property sullied by the Palike's paint brush.
Owner of an independent house Shamantaka Raju has been worried since he saw the red markings on his compound wall. "The staircase is in the front. I will lose that. And any demolition will weaken the entire building," says the retired BSNL employee who has been living here for 24 years in a house that he has built with his savings. "I had left some space in front of the house so I could build an office there and run some agency to generate income. Now, they are asking for that space without offering any compensation. Where will I go with my family," he asks.
Residents say that proper traffic management will solve most of the problems. "The bus stop is placed at the curve. When one stops, all others queue up behind. Motorists and drivers speed on this road. That has to be monitored and a speed limit beimposed," says Balakrishna.
Vehicular traffic has become heavy since work on the Kadirenahalli underpass started a couple of years ago. This brings vehicles going towards Kanakpura (road connects to the Kanakpura Road near Konankunte Cross) and towards Mysore (road connects to Mysore Road near Kengeri).
"Allow that work to complete. Also, let the Metro be complete. They can assess the volume of traffic and then come up with further measures," says Vidyasagar Achar, an engineer.
He alleges that the BBMP is only out to "loot public money" in the name of road widening. "TDR is a big joke. It is only a way to keep compensation low and escape from all responsibilities," he says.
Raju attacks BBMP for absence of proper planning. "One argument in favour of widening is that there is no connecting road to Banashankari VI Stage. When such a major extension is being planned, why can't they plan a connecting road as well? Why do they want existing houses and residents of other localities to make way for a road to facilitate connectivity to a new layout," asks Raju.
"Widening the road will not improve the traffic situation here. We're 100% sure of that," says Achar.
Chandrakala P, who rents a shop and a house in a building, says: "We don't know how much things will improve with the road widening. But we will definitely be inconvenienced. It will be extremely hard to leave behind what we have nurtured for four years and start life elsewhere."

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