Bengaluru Buzz: 8,561 trees may be felled | BBMP tracking tax defaulters | HC stays slum eviction…and more

Over 8500 trees in city outskirts proposed to be felled for road widening, BBMP trying to update its list of tax defaulters, slum eviction in east Bengaluru - read more on news from the city this week, in our roundup

KRDCL may axe thousands of trees

The KRDCL (Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited) may soon axe 8,561 old, mature trees in the city outskirts. The trees are to be cut for widening six roads: the 20-km stretch from Hoskote/Budigere Cross to airport (1,758 trees), 15-km stretch from Nelamangala to  Madhure (869 trees), 23-km stretch from Madhure to Devanahalli road (1,593 trees), 33-km stretch from Bidadi to Jigani (184 trees), Bannerghatta to Anekal (520 trees), and the 39-km stretch from Anekal to Hoskote (3,637 trees).

An expert committee set up to examine applications for tree felling said early this week, that it cannot examine KRDCL’s proposal, as the project falls outside BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) limits. State government had set up the expert committee last August as per High Court’s orders; the committee had jurisdiction in Bengaluru Urban and Rural districts.

This January 7, state government passed an order limiting the jurisdiction of the expert committee to within BBMP limits. It gave Forest Department the powers to examine tree-felling applications outside BBMP, thus stripping the committee of its powers partly.

Activists have slammed the government move as violative of court orders and as a clear attempt to favour KRDCL. KRDCL has already awarded the contract to different construction companies and has approached the Forest Department for tree-felling permissions.

Source: Bangalore Mirror

BBMP lax in updating lists of property tax defaulters

BBMP officials have not updated the list of property tax defaulters, and don’t know how much money is due to them. Revenue officials said there were over 1.8 lakh defaulters, whose dues ranged from Rs 10,000 to crores. Officials estimate that Rs 550 crore needs to be recovered after updating the list.

Not all of the 20 lakh properties in Bengaluru are covered under the tax net either. Until January 15, BBMP had collected Rs 2,425 crore as property tax, as against its target of Rs 3,500 crore.

Currently revenue officials are working with the town planning department and joint commissioners to collect ground data of properties. S Basavaraju, BBMP Special Commissioner (Revenue), said that two months ago, a list of top defaulters had been published, notices slapped on them and warrants issued. Information filed under Self Assessment Scheme by taxpayers is also being verified and defaulters are being identified, he said.

Meanwhile, the BBMP is hoping to fill its coffers after the state cabinet recently approved the amendment to the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976. As per the amendment, double the property tax should be paid for properties that violate building bylaws. BBMP is hoping to collect additional revenue of Rs 400 crore from approximately four lakh buildings that violate bylaws. BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar said the civic body will have to wait for the state government to issue a notification, to start collecting the penalties.

As the BBMP doesn’t have a good track record in property tax collection, a team including Anil Kumar, Mayor M Goutham Kumar, Ruling Party Leader K Muneendra Kumar, and Opposition Leader Abdul Wajid visited Mumbai recently to interact with and learn from officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Source: The New Indian Express | The Hindu

Court stays eviction of slum-dwellers dubbed ‘illegal immigrants’  

The Karnataka High Court ordered an interim stay on demolition drives by the BBMP and the Bengaluru Police in Eastern Bengaluru. In response to a PIL, court stayed the eviction of residents dubbed ‘illegal immigrants’ in Kariyammana Agrahara, Devarabeesanahalli, Kundalahalli and Bellandur. It asked the authorities to give a detailed report explaining the grounds and rules for eviction.

Sunday’s demolition drive had rendered many shanty dwellers homeless while the suspected ‘illegal immigrants’ seemed to have vanished. A team of Congress partymen including Rizwan Arshad, Dinesh Gundu Rao and Ramalinga Reddy visited the site; they accused the authorities of not protecting the dwellers or confirming whether they were indeed illegal immigrants.

Many evictees said that they had all documents, but that the police had razed their homes and shops without verifying these. Ironically, the mayor and BBMP commissioner said they had been unaware of the demolition.

The police claimed they had no time or money to verify the documents, and that BBMP and Revenue Department were to do the verification. Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao claimed that the police has identified 13 places where illegal immigrants are staying; owners of these slums had encroached government land and rented out the shanties, he said.

Source: Deccan Herald | The New Indian Express

Women hold 24-hour protest at Frazer Town

More than 300 women began a 24-hour protest in Frazer Town on Thursday to express dissent over the CAA (Citizenship (Amendment) Act). It was organised by several groups under the banner #WomenForConstitution.

One protestor said that apart from protesting against the CAA, NRC (National Register of Citizens) and NPR (National Population Register), the women were also demanding that the government stop internet shutdowns and curb police brutality on protesters.

Source: Indian Express

Anganwadi workers protest 

Thousands of anganwadi workers from the state gathered at Freedom Park to protest the government decision to begin LKG and UKG classes in government schools. They fear they may lose their jobs as they cater to the 3 to 6-year age group, and hence are demanding that the kindergarten classes be started in anganwadis. They also want an increase in wages from Rs 10,000 to Rs 21,000 per month. One protestor said that they get their wages only once in three to four months.

The protestors called off their strike at 7 pm after K A Dayananda, Director of Women and Child Development Department, assured them that a meeting would be called with union representatives, the department and minister Shashikala Jolle to look into their demands.

Source: Indian Express

Banshankari Junction to get a makeover

The Banashankari Temple TTMC (Traffic and Transit Management Centre) Junction in south Bengaluru will soon get a makeover. BBMP has assured that it would improve the junction and Uttarahalli Circle to ease the flow of vehicles and ensure safe pedestrian movement. The three-road junction sees heavy traffic, stray cattle, encroached footpaths, dumping of waste and poor roads.

BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar said that they plan to widen the road and construct skywalks. He recently conducted a joint inspection here with other civic officials and the traffic police. There is a plan to acquire land on the sides of Uttarahalli road and widen it into a four-lane road with uniform carriageway width. BBMP has also proposed another entrance to the TTMC.

Source: The Hindu

Bengaluru gets ‘fastest growing city’ tag

Bengaluru will be the fastest growing city in the world for the next 15 years; its GDP is projected to grow at 8.5 per cent until 2035, says the Bengaluru Innovation Report 2019. The report was jointly released by the institutional investors Accel Partners, 3one4 Capital, and IdeaSpring Capital.

The report says Bengaluru is the most millennial-friendly city with high employability, and the first city of choice for women. Also, 37 percent of its population are aged between 15 and 35 years. The city’s consumer economy is the most digitally savvy, with a digital spend of Rs 8,600 per person per month, as per the report.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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