The city administration maybe all set to widen roads, but citizens of south Bangalore are not all ready to give up their property. Residents along the 100 feet-wide Outer Ring Road (ORR), from Central Silk Board junction on Hosur Road to Nayandahalli junction on Mysore Road, have come together to form the Ring Road Property Owners’ Association (RRPOA), to carry out their protest against the city corporation’s plans to widen this 14.5 km stretch.
The association recently conducted a public meeting, calling all residents of the city who have been served TDR (Transfer of Development Rights) notices and whose houses are on roads slated to be widened by the BBMP.
Citizen Matters spoke to B N Venkatesh Murthy, core committee member of RRPOA. Murthy, 55, is an advocate and resides on the ORR in Banashankari 3rd stage. His property has also been marked for road widening.
Murthy is a straight talker. He and his association are firm in their stand against widening the southern ORR, and have already met Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, BBMP Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena and other highly placed people in government. They have also extended their support to residents in other parts of the city who have been affected similarly, like those on Dr Rajkumar Road in Rajajinagar.
In this free-wheeling conversation, Murthy opens up about the association’s position on road-widening, possible alternatives for city officials to look at and where the town planners are going wrong. “I plan for about 30-40 years of my life. What must the city planners do? They must plan for five generations, that is 300 years”, he says, pointedly.
Here are detailed excerpts from the interview. A summary of the key points raised by Murthy is also included as a box.
What is the association’s stand on road widening?
Association stand is the individual stand. I don’t think anybody would like to lose property. More particularly all the properties that are notified or proposed to be demolished are all well-developed areas of the BDA. The best layouts as on today have only been formed by the BDA.
Private layouts have compromised, that is, road width is rather very less, they have compromised on every aspect of civic amenity. But here what they propose to do is – Mysore Road junction to Hosur Road Silk Board is 14.5 kms approximately, since there is a road divider, two-way demolition will take place. It’s almost 29-odd kms. Throughout this road it is BDA, 100 ft road developed by BDA. Now in less than 20 years they want to widen by demolishing. There are hundreds and hundreds of not-developed layouts which have come up.
Throughout the 29 km stretch there’s only BDA layout. You look at the outer side of this ring road. Throughout it is either illegal layouts, revenue layouts or partially approved by BDA or not developed according to BDA plans. So what does that mean?
When this layout was formed 20 years ago, beyond this side, there was not one house except a couple of houses in Hosakerehalli. In the last 15-20, houses have come up in this area. And the authorities have allowed high-rise apartments to come up. So what will happen, the pressure of these roads, these unauthorised illegal revenue layouts, will fall on this road. So all of them will come to this road.
Assuming a situation that there is one more parallel road developed some where in the revenue layout. Then these layouts will have a good decent road. Real development will take place there. If development takes place, all people won’t use this (ORR) road only. People will take those alternate roads then. Pressure on the ORR will come down by more than 50 per cent. Just develop any alternate road here. There is no road at all in those areas now.
Before the NICE Road was developed, this road (ORR) was overcrowded. Once NICE Road came, though they charge very heavily, there is really no pressure here on ORR, except one hour in the evening. Even then you won’t get stuck for a long time. I haven’t seen a traffic jam on this road.
Over a period of years alternate roads have never been developed. Alternate roads are the only solution.
I’ll give you an example where you’ve travelled extensively. From Corporation circle to Mysore bank circle, is a small stretch, maybe a kilometre. It’s very wide. It must be about 200 ft. Can you drive at 50 km there?You can’t drive at 50 km at any hour of the day because you have autorickshaws at various speeds, two-wheelers at various speeds, bus and other three-wheeler goods traffic. Why is this happening? You have an almost 200 ft wide road and you can’t drive at 50 km per hour. This clearly shows it’s not one big road that is always important. It is always alternate roads which will solve the problem.
People in power will never understand because they have vested interests.
Read this Citizen Matters article on illegal layouts in Bangalore
Now a lot of revenue layouts have come up. After some time there’ll be some fighting, then they’ll regularise. They will levy a fee of 40,000 to 1 lakh. It leads to Akrama Sakrama. The moment they collect the money, it is regularised. Once it is approved, two or three floors will be built, three families will stay there, pressure on the road increases. So consequently what will happen, many developed layouts will crop up, pressure on them increases. This is how politicians have ensured that the city never develops. They are intelligent in how to amass wealth.
I plan for about 30-40 years of my life. What must the city planners do? They must plan for five generations, that is 300 years. You go to Mysore, in front of the palace, have you ever seen a traffic jam? That city was planned 150 years ago. There was vision. There were Vishveshwaraiahs. Now we have r…s. These people don’t have vision.
Where do you widen? You can widen in old cities, old layouts. The best way to decongest the city. You have seen Goods Shed Road, Cottonpet, Balepet, Mamulpet – all are so congested. Now you have a lot of looms even today there. It’s a highly polluted and congested area. Just remove all those people and allot sites somewhere, improve that area, tell them let that be only for business, houses should not be there. Widen the road and give them land. They can do business there but then get back home elsewhere. Go outside the city. Why don’t you shift those looms outside? That is development. Where is the question of developing a well-developed layout?
Ring Road Property Owners’ Association’s key arguments against widening ORR
The state government/local authorities gave approvals for establishment of automobile industries. They would have projected (five to ten years) their annual production of units of cars and submitted to the government. Evidently it was to the knowledge of authorities there would be more automobiles on the road and should have planned accordingly. Automobiles did not descend from hell to occupy our roads!
When plans were approved for high rise buildings, the authorities ought to know that the number of house holds increase, consequently the number of automobiles. They should have planned alternative roads before approving high rise buildings.
No revenue layout can can up without the connivance of concerned engineers/revenue officials. If this was not encouraged, pressure on well-developed BDA roads would not have been this much. Alternative roads ought to have been planned and developed.
The government should have come up with a master plan and allowed orderly development by private layout developers. Let BBMP/state government first allot alternative sites in any other BDA layout (giving choice, as far as possible, of layouts to citizens), at BDA rates and acquire the present sites at market value. Then they will understand the consequences of development for destruction.
Leaving ORR aside, what about road widening plans on arterial roads?
Arterial roads need to be developed. It is essential. But what is the alternative that is given to the people? The alternative that is required to be given is, ‘I am taking a well-developed layout at market value. See there is a guidance value for purpose of registration, then there is a market value. Everybody knows market value is higher than the guidance value. Everybody knows that registration will take place at guidance value and not market value. It’s to the common knowledge that there is an element of black money in every property deal. Take the market value, allot them sites in BDA layouts. Give them a choice.
So you do not favour compensation through a Development Rights Certificate (DRC) which is 1.5 times the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) one loses to land acquisition?
Nonsense. That is useful only in a place where there is shortage of land in a place like Bombay.
So you are going to fight against TDR unitedly?
We have conducted meetings. Nobody wants to lose their property. We are talking to 30 houses at a time and telling them about this. We will continue to do this.
Go to page 2 to see what BBMP and cabinet ministers have been telling Murthy and RRPOA on this testy issue.
What is the BBMP telling you?
See, a few months ago, a couple of us met the Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa. Even the BBMP Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena was there. At that time when we told them that our houses are going to be demolished, the Chief Minister asked Meena if this is the case. Meena said ‘No No only few houses will be demolished’. Completely different answer he gave. Then the CM told him, ‘No, make sure that only here and there a few buildings are demolished. These people have built their houses with their hard-earned money’. And then everybody clapped.
See, this is what they say. Then later I met Bharat Lal Meena at Ananth Kumar’s (Lok Sabha Member of Parliament) house, I told him about what he said in front of the Chief Minister. He just turned his head away. This is a senior IAS officer.
And look at this (points to a BBMP TDR notice sent to one of the residents on ORR). It is not addressed to anyone, no name is given. It has just been thrown inside the house compound. No mention of how much property one will lose, they’ve just said the road will be widened to about 45 feet. If I go throw a paper like this in the Commissioner’s office, will there be any respect? I am a respectable individual. The Commissioner is a respectable individual. How can they do this?
In 1995 CDP (Comprehensive Development Plan) this road was notified for 45 ft. So if they have notified, from 1995 to 2008 or 2009, BDA or BBMP should not have auctioned any plots, or they should have accounted for widening and then given the sites. But they haven’t done that. They have continued to auction till 2008. So there are people who have purchased plots as late as 2007 in the auction by paying market value of 6000 or 5000. Now is it not a fraud played on them?
From 1995 they should not have sanctioned building plans. They have sanctioned building plans and constructed buildings. Now you are demolishing. All these things are wrongs done by the government. So individuals who have waited, eight attempts, nine attempts, I got this site on my tenth attempt after fighting in the Court. So if a portion of my land is taken, how will I feel? Have I not been cheated by the government so openly? You look through an objective mind. Is it right on their part to do it?
Should we wait in the queue for ten years, take a site, construct, develop, and in 15 years get it demolished? And a revenue plot owner happily stays there without any fear? And he uses the main road. So basically this is for votebank, destroy the main road, all in the name of development.
What are the state cabinet ministers saying?
We met before the BBMP elections. Everybody orally says it is wrong except probably Mr Ashok (state Transport Minister R Ashoka). He was telling, ‘You are not united. If I break your house, if your house is demolished, the person behind you will be very happy because his house will face the main road’. So he very clearly, categorically, indicated, ‘You are not united’.
I have a lot of appreciation for his straightforwardness, the way he talked in the open meeting. Not many were able to appreciate what he talked about. But he clearly indicated – you are not united. ‘If your house is demolished, your neighbour will be very happy because it will face the main road and it will have more value’.
You asked me earlier if we are all united – this is the answer. Any bad activity, there is always unity – autodrivers, bus drivers – absolute unity. Criminals – full unity. Police – absolute understanding. Police, politicians, criminals – first class understanding. Police, administration, contractors – excellent understanding.
What is the next step that the association (RRPOA) will be taking?
We have collected a lot of papers. We have our own method of fighting it out. We are trying to unite. How much we will, we don’t know. But we are working it out. If we are united, we will ensure that it will not be demolished. If there are cracks here which they (BBMP and state officials) can engineer, they are very capable, when they can throw a paper, they can do anything. If we are united, that will not happen.
If we fail in that, then we’ll lose. There is one more way we can’t lose – if sanity prevails in them. If they have wisdom, if they listen.
I’ll give you an example. When a meeting was held a few days ago with regard to road widening, Mayor S K Nataraj came on behalf of R Ashoka (state Transport Minister). He said you need not be worried, for the next three years your houses will not be demolished. Everyone clapped.
Luckily for me, I spoke next. I asked him, ‘Next week you will be operated for a surgery. Can you live happily from now for the next one week? So many people here have clapped, I don’t know what to do. Should I laugh at you or at these residents?’ Many didn’t like what I said. They don’t like such openness.
We will compel them to make alternate roads. Use the same money to develop alternate roads. Yes, properties will go there. But that area will be developed. When you invest, it must be for real development. They say service roads will be developed later. Anywhere have you seen service roads reducing the burden of the main road? You’ll only see lorries parked there.
Some residents are concerned about the fact that even if they submit TDR forms, they will not receive the DRC on time. Your comments on this.
You touch any government department for anything, ask for a khata certificate, anything, openly they will ask for extra money. If you don’t give extra money, it will take a very long time. You will have to go three to five times. 20 days you’ll have to wait for a small thing. If you pay extra money, you’ll get it that afternoon. If you want to get things done, you must go with some money. Government officials are highly knowledgable. They know each and every rule so very well. That is why they are breaking them.
So there will be problems. It’s not a big thing. you’ll get DRC. But what will you do with the DRC? Who buys a DRC now? Now they are compelling builders to buy ten per cent DRC. They are trying to create a market for it.
Have you ever seen one traffic jam in Jayanagar? Except slow moving traffic near the shopping complex, you show me one traffic jam. Why is this not happening? Because even the cross roads are as wide as the main roads.
So who is responsible for this? Who rules this country? It’s the politicians. Administration is at their beck and call. Politicians are very shrewd in their job. They have concentrated power. (For instance) Why should police be under the control of politicians?
Any last comments?
I only pray to God that sense prevails on these people. Good sense, there is no substitute for good sense. ⊕
So say south Bangaloreans, on the BBMP’s widening plans for the Outer Ring Road between Silk Board and Mysore Road. Meet B N Venkatesh Murthy who offers alternatives and fiercely criticises the administration.