The High Court on Wednesday, February 19th, 2014, disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (WP 3676/2008) filed by Citizen Action Forum (CAF) and a few other civic groups in Bengaluru, that challenged the Draft Revised Master Plan (RMP) – 2015, prepared by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), that allowed commercial use of residential areas, through a land use category called “mixed residential.”
A division bench comprising Chief Justice DH Waghela and Justice BV Nagarathna issued a direction to the State government to amend the land use change rules of the BDA’s Revised Master Plan to allow only the ancillary use of residential properties, instead of allowing land use change for commercial use.
The BDA through an affidavit submitted to the High Court, declared its intention to modify the RMP as follows.
- In main and mixed residential areas in Ring 1 (core city areas) and Ring 2 (suburbs like Koramangala, Indranagar, Malleshwaram etc, no fresh commercial activities – not even a new pan shop – for roads of width 40 ft and less.
- For roads above 40ft, up to 20% of built up area or 50 sqmt (whichever is less) of ancillary use allowed. However the ancillary use is now a much reduced list of just 15 or so activities (like a barber shop, small store etc.)
- In main and mixed residential areas in Ring 3 (areas like Whitefield, Horamavu, Yelahanka etc.) All of the above apply with the condition that ancillary use may be permitted as main use if plot size is more than 1000 sqmt, having frontage of 10 meters or more and if the road width is more than 60ft.
While disposing the PIL, the High Court directed that these provisions be notified by Government of Karnataka. Till then, the current interim orders of the “broad-based no commercial activities” apply. The State government agreed to the proposal and said it will take three months to complete the notification once the BDA sends its proposal to the government. The procedures include amending regulations as per Section 13E of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act.
Vijayan Menon, a member of Citizen’s Action Forum, says that the PIL did not cover or attempt to cover ‘illegal commercialisation,’ only the new set of laws that allowed rampant commercialisation was covered. BBMP continues to turn a blind eye to such illegal activities and the state government tries to bring in a regularisation Akrama Sakrama bill.
The petition mainly had three issues: Process, participation and jurisdiction issues – which became irrelevant when the Metropolitan Planning Committee was notified; the green belt /protected area issues, and the commercialisation of residential area issues.
Commercialisation of residential spaces became the prime focus of the PIL. The RMP 2015 through its rules and zoning legalised the commercialisation of neighbourhoods under a confused and faulty interpretation of the concept of “Mixed residential,” which was the bone of contention. Vijayan Menon says that it came to such an extent that the rules allowed an IT outfit to exist in every street in Bangalore.
In response to this PIL, the government constituted A Ravindra Committee, to review the Master Plan. The report highlighted many problems in the RMP 2015.
An interim order issued by the High Court in January 21st, 2012, after going through A Ravindra Committee report, came up with the following directive.
“As a first step, as partial acceptance of the report, we direct that in the following areas of the city i.e. Malleshwaram, Richmond Town, Vasanthanagar, Jayanagar, Vijayanagar, Visveshwarpura, Rajajinagar, R.T.Nagar etc., classified in the Zoning Regulations, which corresponds to areas wherein purely residential user is permitted, no further permission shall be granted for re-development and re-construction except for residential user.”
Another order issued in December 12th, 2012, re-iterated the earlier order, with emphasis on BBMP’s role on the issue:
“We direct that the B.B.M.P. shall not permit or grant any change of land user in the following areas i.e., Malleshwaram, Richmond Town, Vasanthanagar, Jayanagar, Vijayanagar, Vishweshwarapura, Rajajinagar and R.T.Nagar. In addition thereto, the residential areas mentioned and shown in CDP 1995, regardless of whether they are subsequently depicted as residential main or residential mixed are also included. This order shall also apply to other residential areas regardless of the nomenclature used in the Revised Master Plan of 2015. Any building plans that have been sanctioned or trade licenses or change of land user that has been allowed subsequent to our order dated 25.1.2012 shall be recalled.”
For more details on the PIL, click here.
High Court’s decision has brought relief to the citizens who fought the PIL. The BDA/GOK notifications will not cover commercial axes and mutation corridors within residential areas. Until the new regulations are notified, no fresh commercial sanctions can be given for these roads.
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