Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Change in land use blamed for chaos

Change in land use blamed for chaos

Afshan Yasmeen and Swathi Shivanand

BANGALORE: You have invested blood, sweat and tears on your dream house in a quiet residential area. Everything goes fine for a while till one day you realise that the quiet has been replaced by constant hubbub.

You find yourself surrounded by a fast food joint, cyber café, shoe shop, a software company and so on. Suddenly the residential area has become like a business district and your dream has turned into a nightmare.

While permitting change in land use is the main culprit for the haphazard growth of the city, scores of commercial establishments and units are doing business in residential areas even as they directly affect public health.

A business establishment must obtain a trade licence from the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to operate. Obtaining trade licences from the BBMP depends on a no-objection certificate from the neighbours. This is easy as those who want to run commercial establishments simply produce two signatures of acquaintances on the application form.

"When such establishments are closed, people often point out that they have been paying property taxes, electricity bills and water charges on the same level as commercial enterprises. But just paying such charges does not make it legal," says Kathyayini Chamaraj of Civic Bangalore. People are also misled to a certain extent in that while the revenue department of the BBMP collects commercial property taxes, the engineering and health departments in-charge of enforcement consider it a violation, she said.

BBMP's promise

BBMP officials, however, hold a promise for the future. "That will be a thing of the past now. We have taken up this issue seriously now and will close down all units that have flouted norms. If residents of a particular area are troubled by some business in their area, they can complain to the respective zonal health officers and action will be taken immediately. Such licences will not be renewed," BBMP Deputy Commissioner (Reforms and Resources) U.A. Vasanth Rao told The Hindu .


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