Bengaluru Buzz: Anti-conversion Bill | BBMP demolition drive | No to Hindi Diwas

Weekly news recap: Catch all the details on BBMP's encroachment clearance drive post flooding, the passage of the anti conversion bill and more.

Anti-conversion Bill passed

The Karnataka Legislative Council passed the ‘anti-conversion Bill‘ in spite of loud opposition from parties such as Congress and JD (S). The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill was passed in the Assembly last December. But it had been pending as the ruling BJP was short of a majority then. The government promulgated an ordinance in May this year to give effect to it.

Earlier, while tabling it in the Council, CM Basavaraj Bommai defended the Bill saying that it was not intended to target any community but to prevent illegal religious conversions. 

Home minister Araga Jnanendra, who moved the Bill in the upper House, also said that there was no vote bank politics or any hidden agenda behind this law; it was only to prevent illegal religious conversions “by misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or promise of marriage.”

Source: The Indian Express, The Times of India

BBMP’s encroachment clearance drive

The demolition of properties encroaching on stormwater drains at Challaghatta and Shantiniketan layout will be taken up by the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) after survey department officials mark the areas from Pattendur Agrahara to Nallurhalli, Sheelvant kere to TZED apartment and Doddakannahalli lake to Saul kere lake.

Read more: Rainbow Drive — layout or lake? The man-made tragedy of Bengaluru’s flood-prone neighbourhoods

About 11 properties across Yelahanka, West and Mahadevapura zones have been bulldozed, while encroachments in West Zone and KR Puram, Shanthiniketan Layout and Challaghatta were cleared from rajakaluves. JCB machines were used to lift the encroachments and debris at sites undergoing operations. However, BBMP officials said only compound walls and gates are being removed, and asked the inmates to vacate in a week’s time, so they can complete the demolition.

Meanwhile, the BBMP surveyed Bagmane Tech Park on Wednesday and a report is expected to be prepared soon. Bagmane had approached the Lokayukta to restrain the BBMP, but Justice BS Patil only advised both BBMP and Bagmane Development Pvt Ltd to cooperate with each other.

A compound wall built by Sri Chaitanya School in Shantiniketan Layout in Munnekolala was demolished, though there were protests that it had the relevant documents and occupancy certificates. But BBMP officials responded that it was a warning to owners and in a few days they would give notice before more demolitions. Meanwhile, the Outer Ring Road Companies’ Association (ORRCA) said they started their offices on Monday as usual, as there was no water logging on the roads or in the offices.

Indian Express, The New Indian Express, The Hindu

BBMP accused of bias

The encroachment clearance drive that began last Monday is continuing despite opposition. Special Commissioner and Mahadevapura Zone in-charge, Dr K V Trilok Chandra, said that as the BBMP has been accused of targeting only the middle and upper classes, they will follow the High Court’s order on encroaching SWDs (storm water drains), lakes, and buffer zones based on land survey reports by the revenue department.

When asked why the BBMP is not touching the “big names” in the list, he said that they wanted to focus on ‘important ones’ to ensure that the connectivity to lakes is restored. Chief Minister Bommai had said there will be no partisanship in the drive and it has obtained directions from the court.

However, the BBMP has acted against five of 15 major apartments, tech parks and academic institutions. It plans to act on the remaining nine places after surveying the stormwater drain network again. Tech parks commonly shift the rajakaluve’s alignment and cover them with concrete slabs, said officials.

A survey in August had listed at least 15 encroachments by leading tech parks, IT companies, hospitals, educational institutes and apartment complexes by leading builders. A senior BBMP official disclosed that a survey was carried out and notices served to these 15 properties on August 17, much before the floods.

Official data indicates that 696 encroachments have been identified across 842 kilometres of the SWD network. However, Prof T V Ramachandra from the IISc (Indian Institute of Science) said the officials figures are only an indicative number and the demolition is superficial, without understanding the science behind it.

Source: The New Indian Express, The Hindu, Deccan Herald

Read More: Disaster management in Bengaluru: Temporary fixes touted as solutions as city floods again

1984 map used for demolition

The BBMP uses a 1984 map for its anti-encroachment drive in the Mahadevapura zone. Santhosh, assistant director of land records, said that the map of the Mahadevapura zone had been prepared by the revenue department in 1889 and upgraded in 1984.

A compound wall of Nalapad Academy, a school owned by Shantinagara Congress MLA N A Haris, was razed. The BBMP’s list of encroachments includes Wipro’s campus in Doddakannelli, which the information technology major said had been built according to the sanctioned plan.

In the Yelahanka zone, Balan Agro Products was found to have encroached on a 21mx65m portion of a storm-water drain. BBMP chief engineer Basavaraj Kabade said they had demolished encroachments at Papaiah Reddy Layout too.

Source: The Indian Express

Spurt in insurance claims

Insurance providers are gearing up for a huge rise in claims for damaged cars and property, even as floodwaters begin to recede. Initial estimates showed losses running into crores. Even as residents began to evaluate their losses, many were ready for delays in assessments by insurance companies due to the number of claims being filed. While insurance providers say that a final estimate on the claims filed will only be known in the next fortnight, many companies said they were handling hundreds of requests from affected areas and were expecting more.

Source: Deccan Herald

Hindi Diwas protest

Kannada may be made “mandatory” through the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill, said Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in response to protests against ‘Hindi Diwas’ by JD(S) leaders, including HD Kumaraswamy, at the Vidhana Soudha. He added that though Kannada is an administrative language, there is no legal framework to back it.

Under the New Education Police (NEP), professional courses, including engineering, offer Kannada as an optional medium to pursue the course, and students who enrolled with Kannada as the medium have completed one semester.

Protest against Hindi Diwas
Protest against Hindi Diwas. Pic: Mohammed Asasuddin (political activist) on Facebook

The protest event was at the Gandhi statue near the Vidhana Soudha, with the protestors singing Kannada songs. Kannada Rakshana Vedike held a protest meet at Freedom Park on Wednesday.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

New fingerprint scanners for cops

The Bengaluru police can check the criminal record of anyone on the streets. They have received fingerprint scanners from the Ministry of Home Affairs under the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems) that can be used to cross-check with the fingerprint database hosted on the Mobile CCTNS app.

Read more: Police to get massive surveillance project to make Bengaluru a ‘Safe City’ for women

Developed by the SCRB (State Crime Record Bureau), the app, consolidating the fingerprint database state-wise, would show criminal records. Police personnel would need to install the apps on their mobile phones. About 111 law and order police stations have been given 15 fingerprint scanners. The scanners and the CCTNS app are being used on a trial basis for three months.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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