Best of Citizen Matters – 2016

We couldn’t help sharing this curated list of stories we published in 2016 – so here we are, with special year-end edition of the newsletter! These are the stories that make us what we are; these are the stories you would love to indulge in, to get a 360 degree view of an issue. Let us know which one you liked the best!

The messed-up storm water drain encroachment clearance drive

2016 saw unprecedented action by the revenue department, where many buildings encroaching storm water drains were razed down. Many of these buildings had authorised plan sanction from BBMP. How can this happen? How can BBMP sanction building plans on storm water drains? We tried to decode the mystery.

Read: BBMP checks no village maps while sanctioning plans

Land registrations take place without actual surveys, which makes it easy for anyone to register anything. Having Unique Property Ownership Records is a possible solution to the mess, but it’s being opposed by the land mafia:

Read: BBMP uses British era maps to identify encroachment – here’s why.

BDA master plan is not based on state Revenue Department’s maps. Result: BDA master plan cannot be a reference for stormwater drains!

Read: How BDA and BBMP contributed to drain encroachment mess

Tracking the mafias in Bengaluru

Advertising mafia

One can find ad hoardings everywhere – on buildings, storm water drains, skywalks and parks, even private residences. But no one knows the numbers, and no one knows how to stop them from coming up, or make money out of them. What’s going on behind the scenes? Read: Advertising hoardings worth crores actually get no revenues to BBMP.

Ever wondered why the hoardings that are not licensed are not removed in Bengaluru? It’s because the BBMP has no proper policy for removal of hoardings. Read: The story of the advertising rules enforcement mafia.

Why is BBMP unable to remove the illegal hoardings, at the same time not able to make any money from them? Is there anything that can be done to solve the problem?  Read: Ad reforms in BBMP: How many more miles to go?

In brazen defiance of law, advertisers put up illegal hoardings across the city, often multiple times after the authorities have torn them down. How will the BBMP deal with this menace? Read: Gone today, back tomorrow: the strange case of Bengaluru’s ad hoardings

Water tanker mafia

It’s known that Bengaluru has water tanker mafia. We tried to explore how the mafia operates: and here’s what came out of it!

Read: 1000s of water tankers ply in Bengaluru; zero trade licenses. BBMP oblivious!

Private LPG mafia

Are you buying private gas? Many consumers have been charged as high as Rs 1,280 for a 12 kg LPG cylinder. Read: Private LPG: Are you paying the right price, or are you getting cheated?

RTI stories

To come up with the series on illegal advertising, our reporter Akshata had to file RTIs with BBMP. The replies to the RTIs were hard to come by.

Here’s her account of the RTI ordeal: BBMP, please don’t make a mockery of RTI

After chasing the RTI application for more than six months, and many appeals later, Akshata is yet to get the official data she asked for. Read: Lessons on how to catch officials hiding data

Bengaluru Development Authority helped fan the ‘steel flyover’ controversy by hiding the information and refusing to share the data that was already in public domain. Read: BDA botches up the steel flyover issue by hiding information

Stories on social welfare

Urban poor have many schemes, but all of them seldom reach them. Read: So many social welfare schemes for the poor, who benefits?

Also read: Welfare schemes for the poor: Lost between the cup and the lip.

Here’s a list of the schemes that government has for the poor.

Life of freed convicts

What is it to be a freed convict? What does life feel like, for them? Read: Life is a roller coaster for these released prisoners

What are the options for freed convicts to lead a decent life? What are the rehabilitation facilities offered by the government? Read: When a better life seems a distant dream

Life of a garment worker

Bengaluru saw a sudden eruption of protest by garment workers opposing the Central government’s new PF policy. Consequently the centre rolled back the policy. Why did garment workers protest? A glimpse into their lives.

What is life like, for garment workers, in Bengaluru? We churned some numbers to create some graphs: Garment worker’s income and expenditure

City environment

Madras Engineering Group and Indian Institute of Science carried out the survey of Bellandur lake. We accompanied them, and here is what we saw: Black sea of Namma Bengaluru: Bellandur lake in pictures

Temperature in Bengaluru was the highest ever in 2015. And February saw it’s all time high temperature. Do we need a better proof of global warming? Read: What temperature in Bengaluru tells about global warming

2016 is the year when Bengaluru saw plastic ban becoming a law. Before that, citizens led plastic ban in their own areas. Read how area after area tried to go plastic-free.

We curated a guide for planting trees in Bengaluru, which will be useful for you in coming days. Read the guide here it’s worth bookmarking and recommending to others too!

Miscellaneous

With the Central government slowly making Aadhaar compulsory for everything, Aadhaar has become an integral part of an Indian citizen’s life. Many Aadhaar-based apps in the market make use of the biometric data. Read: How private agencies authenticate your Aadhaar ID

This is also a cause for concern among experts. Read: Why experts worry about Aadhaar-based authentication

We went through old budget documents to see the projects announced for the city, and this is what we came up with: Multiple mega-projects meant for Bengaluru yet to take off

2016 saw India winning Olympic medals. While we rejoice, here’s a piece on why we lag behind in sports, even in Bengaluru: Want to be an athlete? Bengaluru isn’t the place for you!

Citizen Journalism

Citizen Journalism always adds a first-hand narrative and authenticity to a story. We had many great citizens’ write ups as usual.

A citizen writer shares How a developer conned buyers with pre-launch booking.

But awareness and RTIs came in handy, and the conned buyers united to fight the builder. Read these inspiring stories!

Here’s how you can interact with your fellow citizens and our editorial team.

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