BANGALORE: A tank worth Rs 600 crore has vanished into thin air! That’s the encroachment tale of the Konenaagrahara water tank adjacent to Airport Road. Thanks to the official-builder-politician nexus, the tank has now turned into a huge concrete package and has led to further depletion of groundwater level in the area. The tank, all of 20 acres and 10 guntas, has buildings all around and on it.

The A T Ramaswamy joint legislature committee, on a Wednesday morning inspection, declared the tank-bed wholly occupied/encroached upon by a private educational institution and a number of residential apartments.

“How were developers allowed to build on a tank-bed? Who issued the licences? Why were no questions asked when construction was going on? Obviously there has been connivance by government officials. How else is such large-scale violation possible?’’ Ramaswamy asked.

Most of the residents in the area are middle-to-upper middle class residing in over 15 apartments. Officials acknowledged that it would be impractical to even think of demolishing so many structures. What do residents do if encroachments are uncovered only after the apartments have been built and sold? Residents, having invested their savings, are simply in no mood to accept arguments that they are living in an illegal space.

“So many tanks in the city have disappeared. What are the officials doing when work is going on?’’ Ramaswamy asked.
The committee put the current value of the encroached land on the tank-bed at a whopping Rs 600 crore with per square foot space valued at Rs 10,000. The government at this stage can only recover revenues via penalties or regularisation charges.

The committee also found three other violations on Airport Road. Some of these lands house prominent banks, IT companies and restaurants who pay rent to the owners. The buildings on survey 101 have encroached upon 25 guntas of land valued at Rs 25 crore, buildings on survey 104 have encroached upon 10 guntas at Rs 10 crore and buildings on survey 107 have encroached upon 27 guntas worth Rs 27 crore. The total value of encroachment on Airport Road works out to Rs 62 crore. A part of it is slum area.

“Where the poor are concerned, we will take a lenient line. They have to live somewhere. We will see what alternative arrangements can be done. But as far as the rich are concerned, punitive action will have to be taken,’’ Ramaswamy said.

The committee also visited the NIMHANS hospital area, within which, three-and-half acres were given away to a private builder. Work on apartments has, however, been stopped as the court has taken up the matter.

Source: Times of India 28 Jun 2007

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