BENGALURU: In a bid to reclaim their neighbourhoods, the citizens of Bengaluru are coming up with ways to oppose the new Common Zoning Regulations through various campaigns.
Last week, around 35 resident welfare association (RWA) groups got together to start a postcard campaign. Nearly 250 residents representing localities such as Indiranagar, Koramangala, Jayanagar, JP Nagar, Whitefield, Domlur and many more, met on Saturday to come up with ways to fight these new regulations that would lead to a commercialisation of residential areas and disrupt everyday life.
Talking to City Express about this campaign, Somyaji VKR from the JP Nagar RWA says, “The government’s proposal to allow commercial activity on roads as narrow as 30 feet is ridiculous. And this doesn’t just apply to Bengaluru, it’s a state-wide issue. Bengaluru is already congested and the roads are choked, this will just add to it.”
What is the postcard campaign?
This year has already seen some successful citizen movements, such as the ‘Steel Flyover Beda’ to the ‘Chuku Buku Rail Beku’ campaigns. Now, citizens are appealing to the Urban Development Department (UDD) and to Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah by sending postacards with the slogan – ‘Hosa Zoning Beda’.
“The reason we are appealing to the CM is because we want to tell him that if he doesn’t pay attention to issues like these, the number of votes he’ll get in the 2018 elections will suffer,” says Somyaji, adding that it is a belief among residents that the traders’ lobby and real estate mafia are behind this.
Working along with the RWAs are citizens groups such as Citizens for Bengaluru, Citizens’ Action Forum, Namma Bengaluru Foundation and United Bengaluru.
Mukunda NS, founding president, Citizens Action Forum, says that by July 31, citizens from each locality will be sending their list of objections to the UDD, and that the post card campaign is in addition to that.
“This is a joint effort by citizens across Bengaluru. Bodies, such as the metropolitan planning committee, which are supposed to consult with the public on matters such as these, aren’t doing their job,” says Mukunda.
He adds that the aim right now is to reach out to a lakh people through the postcard campaign, and that if it doesn’t work, they will think about taking legal action.
“The idea is to get everyone involved and make sure it doesn’t become something concentrated to just one strata or section. This affects the quality of life for everyone. If commercialisation of residential areas happens, it will lead to drunken brawls, drugs, smoking, letching, and many other problems that will come in the way of peaceful living,” says Aruna Newton, president, RWA, HAL 2nd stage.
Newton adds that postcards are just the first step in reaching out to authorites. They will be planning social media, film and cartoon campaigns in the future. “Postcards are symbolic. They’re inexpensive, easily accessible and represent the common man. For example, not everyone is on social media, so for them, postcards work best. They can be written in any language – true to Bengaluru’s metropolitan nature,” says Newton.
What is Common Zoning Regulation?
Bengalureans have been battling to rid commercial activity from residential areas for years now. Despite the High Court backing them and ordering the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to shut down commerial activity in residential areas, the state is trying to revise the Common Zoning Regulation, which legalises commercialisation of roads that are at least 30-feet wide.