BENGALURU: Potted plants, ornamental designs on pavements, grass carpets, security outposts, designer lamp posts, steps — these are just some of the obstacles pedestrians encounter while walking in residential areas in the city. Though the responsibility of clearing encroachments lies with BBMP’s engineers, clearing two-and four-wheelers parked on footpaths is the lookout of the traffic police.
Sadashivanagar, Malleswaram, Rajajinagar, Mahalakshmi layout, Basaveshwara Nagar and many other areas in the city have pedestrian walkways blocked. The common retort of the encroachers to causing obstruction is ‘So what?’ and ‘Why not?’. Many even questioned which civic law prohibits them from occupying footpaths.
Sadashivanagar, an upscale neighbourhood and home to many of the city’s influential and affluent folk, is a classic example. Actors, politicians and businessmen have well-pruned plants and large pots obstructing walkways. A stroll down 18th Cross is a breeze, only for vehicles, not pedestrians. Compounding the problem are trees that have naturally grown and hence not been cut by the BBMP while laying the footpaths.
Prominent residents have potted plants sitting on precious public spaces and large pots lining compound wall. A staffer at one of the houses argued, “So what if there are pots here? This is not a commercial area. The footpath is right outside the house and the pots are ling the wall. Every other house here does that (pointing out to an opposite lane with similar encroachments).”
One problem leads to another
In some places, people take advantage of the dark and urinate on the walls of properties where people reside. Chethana Pawar (35) has been residing opposite UCO Bank in Malleswaram all her life. A high-end SUV blocks the footpath in front of their house. Two other cars are inside their compound. They also have potted plants lining two sides of their house. “There are no streetlights here, so miscreants pee on our wall. That is why we have placed so many pots there,” she said.
‘We cannot change the system’
At the residence of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, a security outpost eats up space in front of the house. There are also pots lining the wall. His personal secretary Shivanna told Express, “We cannot change the entire system in Bengaluru. These plants have been there for years. Which rule says we can’t keep plants there?”
Who does one complain to?
BBMP Assistant Engineer for road infrastructure (East division) Nagaraju B, told Express, “Each assistant executive engineer is given four to five wards. So 198 wards will have at least 50 AEs who can attend to complaints. Each ward will have a chief engineer who will direct the complaint to the respective AE. He has to clear the encroachments. Permanent structure will be razed. If they are automobiles, it has to be cleared by the traffic police. However, no penalty can be levied. A notice can be issued and the house owner warned against repeat offence.”
Senior citizens bear the brunt
Saguna Shedde is on her way to a satsang on Friday evening. “I’m in my 60s. I do not take autorickshaws for short distances and have been in Malleswaram for decades. I am scared to complain as I have a 99-year-old mother to take care of. I don’t want any neighbours to hold prejudices against me. There are encroachments everywhere,” she says as she walks down 7th Main Road. Prabhakar (63), a resident of Jayanagar, said, “Like Indira canteens, the government should have multi-level parking facilities in every ward. ” Srivasta (56), a resident of Tyagarajanagar, said, “The roads are narrow and there is no option but to park vehicles on footpaths.”