The Storm Water Drains or Rajakaluve as locally known, are streams of rainwater formed due to gravity eventually connecting all the lakes in a plateau. They form a natural flood management system as and when we witness heavy monsoons. It falls under the purview of BBMP to maintain these storm water drains. Bangalore was marred with floods In July 2015, and it was discovered that these storm water drains have heavily encroached which restricted the natural flow of rainwater and eventually causing flooding and havoc.
In a bold move, BBMP has released a total of 1,923 maps of Bangalore highlighting where these Storm Water Drains are supposed to be. Any construction hampering the flow of these drains is deemed illegal. Many residents are in panic mode since the announcement. Recently the news dropped that this demolition drive will restart next week causing widespread alarm and panic. People are worried as to what is going to happen to these establishments as they rightly should be. The BBMP has clearly stated that this demolition drive will only be for buildings situated on or near the Storm Water Drainages that are causing the flooding in Bangalore during the rainy season.
The demolition drive has been initialised because during these monsoons, several low-lying areas lying in Bommanahalli, silk board Junction, Hosur Road, BTM Layout and Yelahanka were flooded. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated during the rains. BBMP was left in a whirlpool of criticism and in lieu of that, they decided to clear out the encroached building complexes.
“We are determined to demolish all buildings constructed illegally on the Storm Water Drains and lake beds across the city and blocking rainwater flow to prevent flooding”, Mr. Jayachandra, Karnataka Law Minister told reporters after the state cabinet at a meeting unanimously took this decision.
Of the 1,300 buildings that the BBMP has identified as encroaching the Storm Water Drains, about 100-150 have been demolished so far. The BBMP is renewing its demolition drive starting next week that will lead to the demolition of many such buildings. in turn freeing space for the Storm Water Drains, which will result in prevention of flooding of low lying areas.
What does this drive bring for Bengaluru as a city in the future?
It is now up to BBMP to ensure that this drive is more than mere tokenism and every builder, no matter how prominent, comes under the scanner. Also, the maps under which the demolition drives were being executed was prepared in 1902 and updated in 1962. BBMP must finalise the maps which it will be using to decide how to further go about the encroachment process. BBMP also needs to ensure that with the demolition drives, the slit in the existing Storm Water Drains are cleared so that rainwater can flow freely through the SWDs.
We should also remember that Bangalore was once called the city of thousand lakes the number of which has come down drastically to 68. This demolition drive must ensure that these 68 lakes are still maintained and as many as 261 lakes are recovered that have been encroached upon since 1961.
How can you ensure that the home you are purchasing isn’t encroached?
On May 4, the National Green Tribunals ruling barred any construction near a lake or storm water drains. While looking for homes, you need to make sure that the apartment you are buying has an environment clearance from Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) & Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).