A PRESS REPORT IN BANGALORE MIRROR
VIOLATIONS-DEVIATIONS-IRREGULARITIES – CHOULTRIES.
The wedding season is just beginning. But for no fault of theirs, people who have booked the halls/choultries and party halls will be put through inconvenience in the days to come. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is sealing at least 123 choultries and party halls across the city for violating building bye-laws or running without license. Besides, those who are running kitchens and dining halls in the basements are set to face strict action.
BBMP has got into action and sealed a few choultries and party halls for violations in the last two days.
The action though has come late. The Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao had ordered BBMP to shut down illegal halls functioning in the city almost a year ago.
BBMP’s special commissioner Dr J Ravishankar, while iterating that they were implementing the Lokayukta’s orders, said “It is really shocking to see BBMP’s health officials sleeping on the order for one year. As I have to submit the compliance report to Lokayukta, I reviewed the situation of the choultries with the zonal joint commissioner and chief engineers. The BBMP commissioner has constituted a committee which is headed by me and it has to take action against choultries which have violated BBMP’s building bye-laws. All the joint commissioners have been asked to furnish action-taken reports shortly .”
Two violations are the primary target. “I have asked officials to make two categories of choultries. Firstly, such choultries without any kind of licence to function will be sealed. Secondly, action will be taken against those using their basements as kitchens. Action will also be taken against the choultries using basements as their dining area,” said Ravishankar.
The health inspectors are taking note of alleged offences committed by wedding halls based on which the required action would be taken. The BBMP claims that many of the marriage halls have been operating without trade licences and among those who have license many are violating rules and regulations. “We have seen that marriage halls are converting basements into dining halls instead of using them as parking lot,” said Ravishankar.
The Karnataka Right To Information Activists Forum’s managing trustee Ravindranath Guru had filed a complaint with Lokayukta alleging that the zonal deputy commissioners (health) in connivance with the owners of the buildings had failed to take any action against those indulging in misuse of basements and unlicensed functioning of party halls in violation of building bye-laws.
Lokayukta had ordered BBMP to take strict action against the erring choultries and party halls.
The following investigations by the BBMP, the civic agency submitted to Lokayukta that out of a total of 64 kalyana mantapas (choultries) in the east zone, 57 were constructed according to plan and one Kalyan Mantapa without plan against which action has been taken. The remaining kalyana mantapas were closed. In the west zone, out of 91 kalyana mantapas, 54 were constructed after obtaining plan and 37 without a plan. In the south zone, there were 176 mantapas out of which 108 were constructed according to plan while 68 were constructed without plan.
BBMP had submitted to Lokayukta that steps would be taken to issue notices for closing those constructed without the sanctioned plan.
Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao had then directed the BBMP commissioner to take immediate action by constituting a committee of senior officers or by referring to the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF), to go into the said lapses and irregularities and inaction of the officers. The Lokayukta ordered identifying those responsible for the same and thereafter to take suitable disciplinary action against them.
Despite Lokayukta’s orders being implemented a year later, one of the senior BBMP officials justified the action stating, “I was going along Chord Road and found a lot of the service roads occupied by illegal parking with total chaos. We are conducting inspections and scrutinising the marriage halls for violations. Based on these we will take further action.”
What the RTI activist has to say
Ravindranath Guru, managing trustee of Karnataka Right to Information Activists Forum who had filed complaint with Lokayukta said BBMP had not taken any action against wedding halls despite Lokayukta ordering them to do so. “I had filed RTI to all the joint commissioners seeking information about the wedding halls functioning in their areas but cleverly they have forwarded the applications to chief engineer, who in turn has forwarded those to executive engineer, assistant executive engineers and they have forwarded it to ward engineers. It is almost one year that I have not been given the information. I want consolidated information signed by senior officials. I have approached the Karnataka Information Commission now. Once I get the information I will file an appeal before Lokayukta against BBMP officials for not initiating action against marriage halls.”
Don’t Blame BBMP: HC
Two parties affected by the closure of wedding halls in the city, Aircraft Employees Cooperative Society and St George Church, approached the high court on Thursday. The Cooperative Society runs a ‘Samudaya Bhavan’ (community hall) where weddings are held.
The court allowed weddings scheduled there for January 24 and February 2, but did not allow the petitioners’ prayers seeking three months’ time.
The advocate for the petitioner claimed that bookings for weddings were made months in advance; and in the case of these halls bookings had been made till March 2015. If the weddings are not allowed it would put a lot of people to trouble.
The court asked the BBMP advocate why the hall was locked up. The advocate said that there were complaints and it was found that there were lots of problems with it including that of the waste generated. A mahajar had been drawn and the hall sealed after BBMP found it to be violating rules. The choultry was being run without a trade licence, he said.
The court said that it was allowing the opening of the hall on the two days as it was an urgent matter. The petitioner should not go on a booking spree. “How can you run a kalyana mantapa without a licence? Don’t blame others to continue your illegality.”
In another case, the St George Church approached the court that it had booked the Shiva Parvathi Kalyana Mantapa to conduct weddings on January 25-26, February 1-2 and February 11-12. The BBMP and its health officer had sealed the hall due to which they were suffering. Copies of the wedding invitation were presented to the court. The court allowing the plea, it made it clear that the wedding hall should apply for licence and comply with all the BBMP regulations if they wanted to continue. The court order allowing these weddings in the kalyana mantapas cannot be taken as if it is a court’s stay on the actions of the BBMP. It is only a temporary relief to the common people affecte