BBMP asked to survey religious structures on both private, public properties


High Court declines to accept second survey of such illegal structures on public land

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will have to survey all types of religious structures, existing both on public and private properties in the city as the High Court of Karnataka on Friday declined to accept even a second survey conducted by the BBMP to identify religious structures put up illegally on public properties.

How can you identify illegal religious structures on public properties without surveying religious structures on private properties, which could have encroached upon public properties such as footpath and roads, the court asked BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad, who was directed to personally present before the court through videoconference.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum made these observations during the hearing of a PIL petition initiated suo motu by the court to monitor the steps taken by the State government to implement the apex court’s directions.

Earlier, the Commissioner told the Bench that though his predecessor had ordered assistant engineers to conduct a survey to identify illegal religious structures on public properties and there was no involvement of staff of the revenue section.

Mr. Prasad informed the Bench that he held a detailed discussion with officials, and got a fresh survey conducted between January 21 and 23 involving staff of both the engineering and revenue departments of the BBMP, and it was found that there are about 1,588 illegal religious structures in the city and 1,337 of them were put up prior to September 29, 2009, when the apex court issued directions to deal with such structures.

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Following the Commissioner’s submission, the Bench orally asked him how the survey can be accurate without surveying all types of religious structures whether they are built on public or private properties.

Interestingly, in the first survey only 106 illegal religious structures were found on public properties and the court had described that even a child would not believe that the city has only such a small number of illegal structures.

Giving time till February 26 for the BBMP to submit fresh details of illegal religious structures as per the apex court’s directions, the Bench also asked the civic body to submit an action plan to deal with such structures.

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Sagar Biswas

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