Despite continued protests from residents for over two years, an illegal building in Amar Jyothi layout in Domlur has almost finished construction and is going to be occupied soon. The building located at site no. 371 and 372 along the Koramangala-Domlur Intermediate Ring Road, is in violation of the sanctioned plan from BBMP as well as many building bye-laws. An outlet of the sanitary ware major Roca is to open here soon.
Trouble started two years ago, just as the construction began. Residents nearby complained that the setbacks of the building were insufficient. The building is supposed to have setback of two metres on all sides, but neighbours claim that setback on some sides is as less as two feet. However, construction continued, and so did violations. Today the four-storey building has lesser parking space than what is stipulated in the plan sanction.
According to building bye-laws, retail shops should have one car parking space for every 50 square metres of the total plot area. The area of the disputed building is around 222 sq metre, hence at least four parking spaces should be available. However, the building only has two usable parking spaces now in the basement. The original sanction plan shows six parking lots – four in the stilt floor and two in the basement. But the vehicle ramp does not lead on to the stilt level at all; instead it goes directly down to the basement, rendering the stilt floor completely unusable for parking.
Residents say that the stilt floor would probably end up being used as shopping area itself. Naresh D’Mello, a resident of nearby Orchard Green apartments, says, "A few other shops nearby also do not have parking lots, due to which many cars get parked on the road. Lack of parking lots is going to increase congestion on the road."
The height of the stilt floor from the ground has also exceeded the sanctioned level. The stilt was supposed to be built at around two feet height from the ground, but right now it is more than that. At the terrace level too, the construction has exceeded the original specifications. BBMP Town Planning officials confirmed that the height of the building must have exceeded the sanctioned 11.49 metres due to extra construction. Moreover, if the height exceeds 11.5 metres, the setback specification also changes – setbacks will have to be five metres on all sides. This building has not followed even the two-metre setback rule for buildings of height under 11.5 metres and more.
Zonal level BBMP officials are only willing to speak under condition of anonymity. Even though they admit that the building had several violations, they are taking no action. The zonal office had sent two notices to the owner of the building in May 2010. The first time, BBMP officials went to the site and gave the notice to the building contractor Sudhakar Reddy. The contractor refused to accept the notice, claiming he was not responsible.
The second time, officials tried to contact the owner of the building, a resident of Delhi, directly. The owner’s permanent address is not available in any documents submitted to BBMP and hence the notice was sent to an address available with a neighbour. Whether the owner refused to accept the notice or did not receive it at all, the notice came back to the BBMP.
Officials now say that a fresh notice will be sent next week. But the construction of the building is almost complete now and it is doubtful whether the building will be demolished at this stage.
Meanwhile, allegations and counter-allegations are flying about. BBMP officials and residents claim that Srinivasa Reddy, husband of the ward Councillor Geetha Srinivasa Reddy (Domlur ward, BJP), had accepted money from the building owner and were pressurising BBMP officials to not take action against him. Speaking to Citizen Matters, both the corporator and her husband denied the allegations. They in turn alleged that the neighbours were harassing the building owner and contractor to extract money. The corporator, however, claimed ignorance of the case of building law violations.
The Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of the layout does not seem to be supporting the cause of the residents. "Building violations and nuisance caused by public parking are not our concerns. We are not involved in the issue in any way," Paramashivayya, President of Amarjyoti layout RWA said. After knocking on several doors, the neighbours are now planning to complain to the Lokayukta about the issue. ⊕