What to do to stop an encroachment in Bengaluru

You have come across information about illegal use or takeover of public spaces like a lake or park or some other vacant land owned by a government authority. Who do you complain to?

Bengaluru has already lost thousands of acres of land to encroachers. But if you know about a case of encroachment, there are many government bodies where you can complain. Here is a list of whom you can contact, and how.

1) BMTF (Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force):

The state government had formed BMTF in 1996 to check land grabs and building violations in Bangalore Metropolitan Area (BMA). BMA includes Bangalore urban and rural districts, and part of Kolar district. All encroachments of government land/water bodies in these areas – even those that come under BBMP, BDA, BWSSB etc – will be handled by BMTF. BMTF is also the only body that can file criminal cases against encroachers.

BMTF is a wing of the police, and is headed by an ADGP. BMTF chief Rajvir P Sharma says, “Recently the DG&IGP has issued a circular saying that all cases of government land encroachment should be handled by BMTF, and not other wings of the police. So such complaints are forwarded to us.”

After getting complaints, BMTF will investigate the issue and file criminal case based on Karnataka Land Revenue (KLR) Act, 1964
(http://dpal.kar.nic.in/.%5C12%20of%201964%20(E).pdf). KLR Act prescribes imprisonment for 1-3 years plus fines, for encroachers. Other charges may also be added based on the crime. For eg., if there is document fabrication, it will be charged under IPC.

As an informant, you can opt to either be the complainant in the case or to simply give information and not get involved further. After filing the criminal case, BMTF works with the department that owns the land, to evict encroachers.

As an informant, you can opt to either be the complainant in the case or to simply give information and not get involved further. After filing the criminal case, BMTF works with the department that owns the land, to evict encroachers.

Of the different agencies set up to check violations, BMTF seems to be getting the highest number of complaints from the public. About 50 complaints come in daily – that is around 1500 a month.

But the turnaround time for responding to complaints is 2-3 months. Sharma says this is because of staff shortage. “There are only 12-13 police officers to investigate the nearly 50 cases that come in daily.” Complaints are usually taken up one by one, as they come. But Sharma says that if a person approaches BMTF directly in case of an emergency, priority may be given and action taken soon.

In the last one year, BMTF has filed over 200 cases of land grab and building violations, all of which are going on in Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court. These include cases against Mayor D Venkatesh Murthy and Home Minister R Ashoka. Sharma says that, like regular court cases, these may take time to complete. “In India, the gestation time for a court case is about five years.”

How to complain: In person, by post, email (bmtf.policestation@gmail.com). After sending email, you can follow up by calling 080-22485307.

BMTF has an online complaint form (http://bmtf.gov.in/BMTF_Complaints_Online.html), but currently no acknowledgement number is issued in this system. )The software for issuing acknowledgement numbers is being developed now.)

Location: BBMP Head office, NR Square

Action taken: Filing criminal case/eviction with help of the department that owns land.

2) Special Deputy Commissioner (Enforcement Cell), Bangalore Urban:

This cell, set up in 2006-07, works exclusively to check government land encroachments in Bangalore Urban district. It is located in the city civil court complex near Mysore Bank Circle. When this Cell gets a complaint, it will be forwarded to the concerned tahsildars. Tahsildars will be asked to do spot inspections, check land records, and submit a report.

There are five tahsildars who are in charge of the five taluks in Bangalore Urban. You can complain directly to the concerned tahsildars also.

Like BMTF, Enforcement Cell also does not require proof per se. “Public are unlikely to have documents on government land, but they can share whatever information they have. We pursue cases based on any information,” says Y N Beerelingegowda, Tahsildar at the Enforcement Cell.

If there is encroachment, the cell can do two things – evict the encroacher and ask BMTF to file a criminal complaint based on KLR Act. Before eviction, the Special DC issues a notice to the encroacher, summoning him and asking him to produce any documents. If there are no valid documents, or if the documents are forged, he can be evicted from the land. There are cases where the encroacher goes to court and gets a stay once he gets the notice, causing delays.

While eviction has to be done anyway, it is up to the Special DC to decide whether to file a criminal complaint or not. Beerelingegowda says that criminal complaints are usually filed only if the person is not ready to vacate the land voluntarily. “If the encroacher vacates willingly, we make a mahajar – confirming that the land belongs to government – and get it signed by him and witnesses. The issue is closed then itself.”

To file criminal complaint, the cell approaches BMTF or concerned local police stations, says Beerelingegowda. The cell will give property documents and the police will file a criminal complaint based on this. BMTF holds meetings with Revenue department officials at least once in two months to discuss encroachment cases, says Sharma of BMTF.

From 2009 to now, public have filed around 2000 complaints with the cell. Though many cases are going on in court, no one has been punished yet. Beerelingegowda says that court dismissed some cases because the cell had not followed the correct procedures.

“Earlier we did not use to issue notices before eviction. Court dismissed many such cases, saying that serving notice was mandatory. These cases are now back with the tahsildars,” he says. Since then, the Cell has been serving notices in all cases that include demolition of buildings. In the case of encroachment for agriculture, notice may not be served as eviction is easier.

The response time for complaints vary. An officer at the cell says, on condition of anonymity, “Sometimes there is political pressure to not act. There are cases where poor people encroach land, and may be cleared only after they find alternate land. There are also times when police protection is needed for eviction, causing delays.”

The Encroachment Cell works with the Karnataka Public Land Corporation (KPLC), located in the same building complex. KPLC forwards complaints to the Encroachment Cell.

How to complain: You can complain in writing or verbally to Enforcement Cell/KPLC. Phone calls to KPLC office at 080-22133558.

Location: Office of DC (Revenue) in city civil court complex near Mysore Bank circle

Action taken: Eviction/ Filing criminal complaint with police

3) Jurisdictional authorities (BBMP/BDA etc):

All government agencies and companies can evict encroachers, as per the Karnataka Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1974 (http://dpal.kar.nic.in/pdf_files/PUBLIC%20PREMISES(eviction%20of%20un-authorised%20occupan.pdf).

The Act allows government bodies to evict encroachers and make them pay arrears and damages. If the encroacher occupies the same land even after eviction, he can be imprisoned. Here’s how BBMP and BDA act in encroachment cases.

a) BBMP:

BBMP’s engineering department looks at encroachment complaints. You can write the complaint on plain paper and give it to the local ward AEEs (Assistant Executive Engineers). You can also copy jurisdictional Executive Engineers, Superintendent Engineers, the Engineer-in-Chief, Commissioner etc., on the complaint. You should take an acknowledgement on the complaint.

Instead, you can also call and complain at the BBMP’s 24X7 helpline (22221188 and 22660000) and get a complaint number. AEEs are supposed to respond to a complaint within seven days. BBMP Engineer-in-Chief B T Ramesh says that notices are not usually issued before eviction, as the encroacher might go to court and get a stay.

Though BBMP is empowered to file criminal complaint against encroacher, Ramesh was not aware of this, and said that BBMP usually does not initiate criminal complaints.

How to complain: Letter to ward AEEs/ call helpline (22221188 and 22660000)

Action taken: Eviction

b) BDA:

You can give a written complaint to the BDA Commissioner. BDA’s Land Acquisition and Revenue departments will investigate the issue. Executive Engineers have to inspect the spot and file a report. If the report confirms encroachment, a notice is sent to encroacher. A week’s time is given for the encroacher to remove his belongings. BDA has a Task Force headed by a SP (Superintendent of Police) to evict encroachers.

A senior BDA officer says, “Many encroachers get stay from court. To counter this, we ask engineers to go to BDA’s law department first and get a caveat filed. In such cases, court will decide about giving stay only after hearing us. This is being done in most cases now. There are also cases where engineers collude with encroachers and don’t take action.” If the encroacher gets a stay beforehand, the law department is asked to clear it, which takes time.

Like BBMP, BDA also does not usually file cases against encroachers. The officer says that on average there are 2-4 cases per month; there are also months were no cases come up. This includes cases that BDA takes up on its own. BDA takes no action in cases when land that is already allotted to someone is encroached.

How to complain: Letter to BDA Commissioner/ Call Vigilance wing at 080-23364227

Location: BDA Head office in T Chowdaiah Road, Kumarapark West

Action taken: Eviction

So which authority should you approach?

For any land grab in Bangalore Urban district, you can approach either BMTF or Revenue Department’s Enforcement Cell. These two bodies can take action, irrespective of whether land comes under BBMP, BDA or villages. But you can approach BBMP and BDA only for offences their respective jurisdictions.

BMTF now has a reputation for taking prompt action, but the situation is bleak in terms of penalties for encroachers. Court cases are lagging, and BMTF officers say that there is no initiative from the government to get the stays vacated.

For BBMP and BDA, the focus is more on encroachment removal rather than punishing encroachers. BBMP has a general reputation for not taking public complaints seriously. In BDA, the officer (quoted above), says that action depends on individual commissioners, since orders come directly from them in these cases.

What about private property encroachment?

In such cases, the only option is to go to civil court. If you approach the police, they may try to settle the issue amicably, but no case will be filed since it is a civil matter.

Beerelingegowda says that in such cases, public can get the Revenue department to do a land survey. “The survey record, along with documents, becomes proof in court. Court may try to settle the case by mutual agreement, or else will direct the police to remove the encroachment,” he says.

Comments:

  1. N Sai Ram says:

    unauthorized construction on site no 40 , in sy no 79 bharathi layout, sg palaya, bangalore ward no 152, subdivision AEE, BTM LAY OUT-
    –THEY ARE CONSTRUCTING A FIVE STORY BUILDING ON 30 X 40 SITE, ENCROACHING THE NEIGHBOUR “S PROPERTY
    AND DAMAGING THE EXCISTING BUILDING NEAR BY.

    THEY HAVE BLOCKED THE DRAINAGE , REMOVING THE SLABS TO ACCOMMODATE THEIR BUILDING MATERIALS. THAT IS CAUSING A HUGE HEALTH PROBLEMS TO NEIGHBOURS ( PAST FIVE MONTHS )

    THEY DUG BOREWELL WITH OUT PERMISSION –

  2. Anand C K Shashidhar says:

    I have been complaining about a Very Large Scale encroachment of a certain builder and a religious institution for 4 years now. Have filed 3 complaints with BMTF, and about 19 others with BDA, BBMP, LDA, Tahsildar, DC, Special DC, Commissioner of Police, DGP & IG, and the Lokayuktha.
    All the complaints have evoked no action. Matter of fact, some departments even intimidated us with reverse threats and complaints. A few NGOS also joined hands for a brief few months and disappeared!
    I even wrote to the PM< who transferred the case to DPAR< who closed it after 2 years without ANY action at all!
    I have all required documents obtained thru RTI…
    I have been followed. My family has been threatened. I keep getting blank calls…
    I have about 9000 calls recorded and about 3TB of pics, video and information.
    Even SEIAA, KSPCB and others are allowing violation despite several complaints, NPD Direction and Show Cause Notice.
    Any suggestions anyone?

  3. Vivek says:

    Dear Sir/Mam,

    I am writing this letter to bring to your attention the issue of encroachments on public roads in our city. The increasing number of encroachments has caused severe inconvenience to the public, and we request your prompt intervention in this matter .This has encouraged many other shops to crop up on the pavements it. Now vendors have come to occupy the whole of pavements so much so that there is no space left for street walkers any longer.

    Apart from causing traffic disruptions, it causes great discomfort to women, and children. It has also given rise to profuse littering and offensive elements frequenting these shops. They pay utmost disregard to the rule of law and the whole system seems to be tottering at their will. Pickpocket and drunkers misbehaving in public has raised a consent.

    Address:
    1st cross , Subedar Chatram Road, Gandhi Nagar Locality , Majestic Bengaluru 560009 ( Near Underpass subway to KSRTC Bus stop)

  4. Arthasastri says:

    80 feet ITI layout road has been blocked by private owners making all the heavy light vehicles, take a detour into smaller roads which has made it dangerous with frequent accidents being reported and witnessed

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