The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will be taking up another survey of unauthorised religious structures in all 198 wards in the city.
Chairing a virtual meeting with zonal officials here on Tuesday, BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad directed the officials to identify unauthorised religious structures not just on public property, but also those on private property, and submit a report by February 15, besides issue show cause notices to unauthorised structures that have come up on public property after September 2009.
This comes following a direction from the Karnataka High Court to the civic body to identify unauthorised religious structures that have been constructed after September 2009 on public and private properties in the city. It had expressed dissatisfaction after the BBMP submitted a report claiming there were 1,588 religious structures, of which nearly 1,240 existed before September 2009.
In a PIL filed in the Supreme Court in 2009, the apex court had noted that structures that had come up before 2009 may be shifted to other locations, while no structures should be allowed after that.
For structures on private property, the revenue officials have been instructed to scrutinise land records establishing ownership and approvals from government bodies (either BDA or BBMP) for building plans.
The Commissioner said that after issuing the show cause notices, one-week time should be given to the management of these unauthorised religious structures to respond. This is as per section 229 of the new BBMP Act, 2020.
He directed the revenue officials to issue a summary order declaring the structure is illegal and should be demolished. “The demolition is to be executed by the engineers, and revenue officials should be present. I have already spoken to the Commissioner of Police. Engineers can seek police protection during the demolition,” he said and instructed officials to submit a report on number of notices issued by the end of the week. There would be no grounds for compromise, he added.
For structures constructed before September 2009, there were three options - removal, relocation and regularisation. However, structures that are on medians, footpaths or roads and cause obstruction to movement of pedestrians or vehicles should be removed, Mr. Prasad said. While the BBMP did not have the authority to take a decision on such structures, a report would be sent to the State government, which would take a policy decision on structures that have to be removed, relocated and regularised.
Taking note of some statues of actors Rajkumar and Vishnuvardhan also being included in list of unauthorised religious structures, the civic chief asked officials to “apply their mind” before sending the list and including these in the list.
He also asked officials to not be scared when demolishing unauthorised religious structures and believe they will be cursed. “This is not personal in character; it is impersonal and government work,” he said.
During the virtual meeting, an official from Mahadevapura zone was found reading a newspaper. Mr. Prasad, angered by this, directed the zonal joint commissioner to immediately suspend the official.