Water Theft Lands Temples in Soup
BENGALURU: The Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) will soon file criminal cases against five temples in Malleswaram for using illegal water and sanitation connections.
This follows repeated requests by the Railways to the water as well as the electricity board to disconnect supply to these temples that have encroached on their land, said a top BWSSB official.
“A couple of attempts to close the connections in the temples were unsuccessful, as the locals protested,” the official said. “We now have decided to book criminal cases against the temple authorities for use of illegal water and sanitation connections as well as grabbing public property.”
The temples in question — Sri Shaneshwara Swami temple, Sri Shanimahatma temple, Kali temple, Bhakta Anjaneya temple and Sri Veera Anjenaya and Vinayaka temple — were built between 10 and 15 years ago on 5,156.16 square feet of encroached railway land, valued at `5.15 crore. All of them are located on the 3.5-km stretch — called Railway Parallel Road — running alongside the railway track from Malleswaram to Yeshwantpur.
The Railway Department is in possession of all documents to prove ownership of the property. The priests or trustees of the temples conceded to the officials in a meeting held six months ago that they do not have any documents to claim ownership.
Last April, the Upa Lokayukta had even issued an order castigating the Railways for not making any efforts to reclaim possession of its land.
The officials are helpless in the face of local resistance and even efforts of the Railway Police Force have failed, they claim.
Meanwhile, Aparna Garg, Estate Officer and Additional Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru Railway Division, said, “We are keen on reclaiming our land. The property in question is vital for our expansion plans. In case we decide to lay a new line or try to put in place a suburban infrastructure in the future, it is crucial we have the land in place first.”
Sanjiv Agarwal, Bengaluru Divisional Railway Manager, said, “We had written to the chief secretary some months ago, requesting the help of the state government to help us reclaim our land. It would become a law and order problem if we took things into our own hands.”
The state government had appointed Special Deputy Commissioner Mohammed Salahuddin to come up with a solution to the long-pending matter.
In a meeting held with the Railways, temple representatives and BWSSB and BESCOM, he had suggested that the temples be relocated to some other place. But there has been no response from the temple authorities on this, said a railway official.
We are keen on reclaiming our land. The property in question is vital for our expansion plans. In case we decide to lay a new line or try to put in place a suburban infrastructure in the future, it is crucial we have the land in place
— Aparna Garg, Estate Officer and Additional Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru Division