Civic

Find in-depth articles on common issues affecting daily life in our cities, and related to community responses and action around these issues. The articles provide insights into the complexities of managing and improving urban livability and citizen engagement.

Flay by the rules

We pay taxes and duties on just about everything - on our income, on purchase of capital assets such as property and cars, on services, and on our expenses. Part of the tax collection goes to the central government, and part to the state and local governments. A substantial portion of these funds is earmarked for spending on area development. This much we know. In Bangalore, the reality is that city corporators work hand-in-glove with corporation officials (BBMP) and contractors to ensure that a good portion of the funds earmarked for development are milked back into their own pockets. Guru…

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Fire broke out in Uphaar Cinema in New Delhi on 13 June 1997, while screening a matinee show of the movie, Border. 59 movie goers lost their lives because the theatre didn't have adequate fire escape facilities. Ten years later, memories of that day still haunt the survivors. Chief Fire Officer and Senior Supervising Officer, Bangalore, N U Erappa says cinemas are supposed to provide four and a half metres of space around the building so that in case of fire, fire trucks would be able to enter the premises and put it out. In many theatres, this area is…

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Damned if you do damned if you don't. That's the dilemma the high court judges, hearing petitions against the recently passed Karnataka State law on regularization of illegal constructions, seem to be in. The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by citizens' groups from Bangalore and Mangalore seek an injunction and stay against the Sakrama scheme devised under the new law and being implemented by the administration. Sakrama in discussion at the 1 December meeting organised by CIVIC. BBMP Special Commissioner Ramprasad is speaking. "If the amendment is not stayed, violators will get amnesty. But if we stay the amendment, small…

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In an obese, overgrown metro, some symbols still endure. One of these is the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), almost a subconscious icon that IT Bangalore has inherited from its 'garden city' avatar. Bangalore Development Authority Headquarters (courtesy: BDA) There is a mixed reaction to the BDA. There appears to be a slight inclination to appreciate its new IT-savviness. On the other hand, there are charges of corruption. And finally, more civic conscious citizens find its development plans to be grossly unbalanced, with the wrong emphasis on all the wrong areas. So firstly, is there really a new IT look? K…

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Nagaraj, a Lingarajapuram-based graphic designer and a physically disabled person, would love to visit a mall in the city just like many Bangaloreans do when they have some free time. But he is physically disabled. And as most of the malls in the city do not provide adequate facilities for the disabled, an evening of leisure could become really challenging. Forum Mall (courtesy: Wikimedia) Most malls in Bangalore are not disabled-friendly. Building Bye-Laws 2003 of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, state that all public and semi-public buildings are obliged to provide certain basic amenities for the benefit of disabled patrons.…

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Oasis is the name of the new swanky and slick shopping mega mall that's sprung up on the corner of Koramangala 80 feet road and Inner Ring Road intersection. It's quite strategically located, on one of the busiest crossroads of Bangalore, also a prime residential area. Drain view apartments: Multi-storey buildings along the storm water drain (pic: Samuel Jacob) Just behind the mall on a gentle gradient is the Shinivagulu Tank Bed (S T Bed) residential layout. Not so long ago when humans were kind, it used to be a tank bed. In 1989, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), converted…

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A series of recent news reports by the Karnataka state government’s Ramaswamy Committee has highlighted the capture of public land by politicians of all hues and their cronies in the form of land developers. One might have come across such land grabbing under high tension lines, too. I am a Koramangala resident and member/ex-secretary of the residents’ association of Koramangala 8th block. I want to recall my experience in this regard. High Tension lines in Koramangala, V Blk (pic: Rajeev Yeshwanth) The land lying below the 110 KVA HT transmission lines in Koramangala (behind Raheja Arcade) has been in contention…

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Even as the IT city swells and rips out of its infrastructure, there are small bands of earnest and committed residents that are trying very hard to effect local patch-up jobs. All over the city, colony federations are beginning to take up issues, address concerns and battle for local rights. Citizens’ awareness is rearing its head, even though some may say that it has not made its presence felt in a major way. Any of the local associations is an interesting microcosm of the city’s concerns. Take the relatively new and IT-centric colony of Hosur Sarjapur Road (HSR) Layout, for…

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Various apartment blocks that have sprung up in Jayanagar 1st block threaten to destroy the quality of life in the area. Residents in the area have pointed out that they have come up in violation of all building norms and ask the pertinent question whether this was in connivance with the authorities. Building Violations in Jayanagar (pic: Rajeev Yeshwant) The most blatant example of this is the case of the 14-floor apartment building coming up on 1st cross, 1st block near Madhavan Park. Being built by Bysani Developers it is located at a dead end. The approach road is a…

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