With the last date for receiving applications under Akrama Sakrama scheme having come to an end, the BBMP has received a lacklustre response from people willing to apply under the scheme. The number of applicants in entire BBMP limits is as low as 37, as on the last day – March 22nd, 2016.
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The State government introduced Akrama Sakrama scheme last year and gave a time frame of one year from March 23rd, 2015 to March 22nd, 2016, for people to apply seeking regularisation of unauthorised buildings. Thanks to the ongoing court battle, lack of publicity by the government authorities and lack of clarity over certain aspects in the scheme, the scheme did not click well with people.
Turn of events
- On February 27th, 2015, the Urban Development Department issues a notification directing the DC’s and ULB heads to implement Akrama Sakrama scheme. It sets the date for receiving applications from March 23rd 2015 to March 22nd 2016.
- On March 23rd, 2015, BBMP issues a circular directing the concerned officers to distribute and accept the applications under Akrama Sakrama.
- In the same month, citizen groups file a PIL (Case No. WP 8895/2015) in the High Court questioning the scheme.
- The High Court Division Bench admits the batch of petitions and passes an interim order directing the State government not to process applications. However, it allows the receiving of applications.
- During the course of hearing, the government has pressed before the Court that they will give chance for regularisation only once. It has contended that the scheme will bring more revenue to BBMP.
- The High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee observed that the scheme was “dangerous.” What kind of scheme is this and under whose patronage are indiscriminate constructions allowed?” the bench had asked, during a hearing in December.
- The matter has been posted for further hearing on March 29th, 2016.
After a lot of dilly-dallying, the Karnataka government introduced Akrama Sakrama scheme last year, by giving an opportunity for one-time regularisation of deviated buildings in urban local bodies across Karnataka. The Rule aimed at regularising residential buildings with deviation upto 50 per cent and non-residential buildings with deviation up to 25 per cent.
Soon after the government issued notification to implement the scheme, citizen groups led by Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development and JP Nagar 7th and 8th Residents Welfare Association moved to the High Court, claiming that the scheme made it easy for rule violators to let go things by paying a nominal fee. In March 2015, the High Court in its interim order directed the State government not to process the applications, while it allowed the receiving of applications.
‘Case pending in the court could be the reason’
According to a rough estimate, there are at least 2 lakh illegal residential buildings (‘B’ Khata holders) in Bengaluru. But, the number of people who have voluntarily declared the deviation seeking regularisation has not crossed two digits. While over 1,500 applications were sold to the people who were interested to apply under the scheme, only 37 of them, filled the form and returned it to the BBMP officers.
L Shashi Kumar, Additional Director of Town Planning (BBMP) explains that the reason for lack of response could be the case that is pending before the High Court. People may be apprehensive about the outcome of legal proceedings.
When asked if BBMP has done enough to promote and publicise the scheme among public, he said, nothing much was done after the case was admitted in the court.
As per the BBMP’s circular dated March 23rd, 2015, Assistant Revenue Officers of each ward are in-charge of distributing and receiving applications. Ramachandraiah L N, Assistant Revenue Officer of HAL and K R Puram said that he was given two sets of 125 Akrama Sakrama applications/pamphlets to be sold in HAL and K R Puram. “I sold 23 applications in HAL and 25 applications in K R Puram. But none of those who purchased the applications, came back to me with filled up forms,” he said. So, in last one year, Ramachandraiah has not received even a single application under Akrama Sakrama.
Are people waiting and watching?
The ARO said he has heard people saying that they were not applying because they were unable to understand the calculation made for regularising the violation. “I was told that percentage-wise calculation was not clear to them,” he said.
Another senior officer from BBMP who did not wish to be named said that another reason behind people not applying could be the possible effect of self-declaring the violation. “People may have a fear that in case if the High Court dismisses the scheme, self-declaring the deviation might lead to other problems. They might worry about being penalised by government authorities for unauthorised construction (later),” he said.
With such apprehensions, people have mostly opted to wait and watch before taking a hasty decision. The initial hype that was created around the scheme has slowly died down. Now, only the court will decide what will happen to the 37 applications that have been filed seeking regularisation of buildings.