It’s BDA vs public again, as BDA’s power to public consultation questioned

Amid hue and cry, BDA Commissioner Sham Bhatt declared that there are soon going to be more public consultations in each zone of the city.

There were less of suggestions and more of ire against the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) at the public meeting convened by the BDA to seek suggestion and opinion from public before drafting the Revised Master Plan-2031.

Bengalureans who are upset over the routine exercise of convening meetings before introducing the RMP, used the opportunity to attack BDA for the kind of mess it has created in the city.

The BDA convened a public meeting on RMP-2031 at Ambedkar Bhavan in Miller’s Road on Wednesday. Members of Citizen Action Forum (CAF), the city-based civic group, questioned the BDA’s power to call for a public meeting, as the Bangalore Metropolitan Planning Committee (BMPC) is the authority to plan for the development of the city. As per 243ZE of Nagarapalika Act, 1992, it is the BMPC’s responsibility to plan the development of municipality, said N S Mukunda, a founder member of CAF.

‘Did the CM order the meeting?’

Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) CEO Sridhar Pabbisetty sought to know if the chief minister who is the chairman of BMPC has issued an order to the BDA to convene public meeting on RMP. He also took a dig at the BDA for convening the meeting within a short notice of five days.

Though the BDA had issued a feedback letter to all the participants to write their suggestions and put in the drop box, that too did not go well with a section of citizens. “Over 8,000 suggestions and objections given by public were discarded by the Thomas Committee when the 2015 RMP was formed. We do not want such a situation to recur,” Mukunda said, while demanding that the BDA give reason for discarding every discarded suggestion while forming RMP-2031.

BDA Commissioner T Sham Bhat justified that the meeting was in accordance with the notification issued by the government naming BDA as the secretariat for the BMPC. “We are only collecting public opinion and submit it to the BMPC which will draft the master plan,” he said.

However, a section of citizens including representatives from Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) boycotted the meeting as they were not convinced about the BDA’s justification about its power to convene the meeting.

Citizens bat for green zone and lung space

Even as the citizens expressed their anguish over the effectiveness of the RMP-2031 considering the improper implementation of RMP-2015, they also batted for preserving green zone and lung space in the city. Dhananjaya Gowda from T G Halli reservoir area explained how the villagers of Arkavathi belt had to suffer due to the formation of Arkavathi layout as per 2015 master plan.

Yet another resident, Nagaraj from Devarabeesanahalli lashed out at the BDA for closing down the lakes and forming layouts and then again speaking of protecting green belts. “You have marked my agricultural property as valley zone and I have no issue in maintaining it as it is. But, please do not convert the neighbouring land for commercial purposes like you have previously done. RMP has reduced into a money-minting exercise by making change of land use according to whims and fancies of few people,” he said.

Kathyayini Chamaraj, the Trustee of CIVIC, demanded that the BDA to issue a white paper on the master plan, the extent of implementation and the reasons if not implemented effectively. “BDA only plans, but what is the point if there is no mechanism to implement it,” she asked.

Zonal meetings to be held soon

Amid the hue and cry, BDA Commissioner Sham Bhat briefed the purpose of calling the public meeting even before drafting the master plan. “Our intention is to collect public opinion and incorporate it in the draft. The process of RMP-2031 was started in 2011 and the tender for preparing the plan has been issued to Netherlands-based consultant Royal Haskoning DHV,” Bhat said.

The consultant has already gathered opinion of over 60 public institutions, surveyed 10,000 households, slums and has initiated the plan. The population of the city is 90 lakh as per 2011 census and the projected population by 2031 is 2.2 crore. With that in mind, the RMP will focus on aspects like transport, lung space, green zone, drainage, water supply of the city, he said. He also announced that public meetings will be convened in each zone of the city next month.

Also read: An open letter to the Chief Minister on planning Bengaluru

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