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Last updated: August 25 2011
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    Bolt from the blue
    No recognition to gated enclaves: BDA

    A rude shock awaits those living smug and safe in the ''gated communities'' in the City. The major civic agencies do not recognise the islands of privacy that have sprouted across the metro and its suburbs.

    In response to a query under the Right to Information , the Bangalore Development Authority and the Bangalore Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (BMRDA) have said that their rules had no provision for a “gated community”. Further, it is also learnt that the local Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike also does not recognise the concept. The information furnished by the two prominent planning agencies of the City is likely to give a rude shock to hundreds of citizens who believed that they were ‘protected’ from the outside world by building a wall around their luxury homes.

    The response of the official agencies came in response to the query from G Chandrakant, who had sought to know about maintenance of the civic amenities in these so-called gated communities. In response to the question of whether there is any definition of a Gated Community, the BDA response, a copy of which is available with Deccan Herald, said: “There is no such factor derived in By-law”.

    Further in its response, the BDA said such layouts where houses/apartments have been constructed with approval from the Authority cannot claim ownership of the civic amenities within its campus. “It is mandatory and once the developer hands over the ownership to the Government, it becomes public property and general public will be allowed to use it,” responded the BDA. The BMRDA in its response to the same question, echoed the BDA’s response. “It is not defined in the zonal regulations.”

    That means the civic agencies can act against any violation of building by-law rules by the developers of gated communities, of many have been reported. But, in effect the civic agencies may have, in many cases, violated their own laws, allowing reputed builders and developers of layouts in ‘encroaching’ on public property for the luxury of a few who can afford to pay.

    “The concept of a gated community was never there prior to the 90s. While they may have mushroomed across the City, it never has posed us any sort of a problem, barring a few,” admitted a BBMP official.

    The South City complex on Bannerghatta Road is the most prominent a gated community encroaching upon public property. On June 9, 2011, the outer wall of the complex was demolished on allegations of the project encroaching upon a storm-water drain and obstructing pedestrian movement.

    Officers of the BDA believe that the ‘gated communities’ are only formed to provide security to its residents. “While there may not be a legal sanction, reasons of security and protection for its residents drive them to construct a wall around its Layout. We are not bothered by such actions as they do not threaten the common man,” said a BDA officer.

    But the Authority would intervene if the complex ‘encroaches’ upon those areas which are defined in the Masterplan 2015, mostly arterial roads, the officer said


    Though the below information is one year old news, I am reproducing it from Bangalore Mirror for the benefit of all members who might have missed it out when it was published by the newspaper and reproduced by some other member in Indian Real Estate Board too, copied from Bangalore Mirror:

    Gated communities are illegal, says BDA chief

    But several developers continue to lure buyers and command steep prices for gated Sameer Ranjan Bakshi....Posted On Wednesday, September 08, 2010 at 05:14:28 AM in Bangalore Mirror

    Goutham Margabandu, a senior engineer, frequently traveled to the US and was often away from home for days on end.
    His family resides in the city and with him away for long periods, the question of security weighed heavily. Six years ago, he came across a newspaper advertisement by a real estate developer offering independent houses in a gated community off Kanakapura Road. Although on the outskirts of the city, security was guaranteed, there was plenty of space for his children to play and the location was close enough to his office. He purchased a house and he and his family moved in.

    The peace was shattered earlier this year when the BBMP razed a portion of the perimeter wall just outside Margabandu’s house and threatened to throw open the roads inside the community to the public. Margabandu and hundreds of others in the community are now waging a legal battle to reclaim their peace.

    “We maintained the layout thinking it belongs to us,’’ Margabandu said. “Our children play on the road and we have spent lakhs of rupees on maintenance. Now if its open to the public and outsiders use these roads, we will lose our privacy and endanger our security.’’ BDA Commissioner, Bharat Lal Meena, however, believes Margabandu and the others have no case to fight, as all gated communities are illegal.

    “Every layout needs to earmark space for parks, roads and areas of common use. These areas are under the control of civic authorities. When roads and parks inside the community are controlled by civic authorities, how can such layouts be called gated communities?’’ Meena said. “The BBMP issued a circular some time ago saying that there is no such term as gated community,’’ he added.

    However, several real estate developers in the city continue to lure buyers into purchasing property by blatantly selling the idea of gated communities and are commanding premium prices. Sterling Developers Joint Managing Director, Shankar Shastri admits the idea is open to debate.

    “It is a contentious topic,’’ he said. “Irrespective of whatever advertisements the developers give, the buyers should read the sale agreement carefully. He should also verify the approval plan. If the agreement mentions a future proposal, then it is absolutely the developers right to tinker with the boundary.’’

    Feroze Khan, chief operating officer of Vakil Housing Development Corporation, put an entirely different spin on gated communities.

    “There are gated communities, but only small apartments can be termed gated community,’’ he said. “If it is a group housing project or layout, then the developer relinquishes 25 per cent of the land to civic authorities. Those portions become public property so it not 100 per cent gated,’’ he said.

    Bharat Dhupper, chief marketing officer, Mantri Developers Pvt Ltd revealed gated communities mostly appealed to IT professionals.

    “They usually live together,’’ Dhupper said. “They celebrate festivals together, their backgrounds are similar and they frequently travel abroad leaving families behind. So security is an issue. They also develop a sense of ownership over open areas inside the community as they maintain these spaces.’’

    Dhupper believes developers need to have a proper plan in place.

    “We don’t have situations where we have promised gated communities,’’ he said. “But if you have a proper plan in place before development, these issues dont crop up,’’ he said.

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    Another post by Ravikanth on the same subject and the power of RTI:

    Reproduced from Deccan Herald dated 25th August 2011

    Check out the link below:

    Bridging the gap between ghettos and gated communities

    Bridging the gap between ghettos and gated communitiesA Ravindra
    The rights-based approach is gaining ground to overcome ‘exclusionary development’ in democratic societies. The goal is to include the poor and the marginalised sections of society in the fields of economic, social and political development.
    The Right to Education Bill is one such effort. The UN-Habitat in its latest report on the ‘state of the world’s cities-2010-11,’ while dwelling on the theme of bridging the urban divide, has advocated the concept of ‘Right to the City.’

    Urbanisation has emerged as a positive force for transformation and the world is moving towards a predominantly urban era. Cities generate wealth, create opportunities for education and employment and a richer social and cultural life. It is also true that various forms of exclusion continue to marginalise large number of residents, depriving them access to many of the opportunities cities offer, in other words, the right to enjoy the ‘urban advantage.’ Urban growth has also come to be identified with poverty and slums.

    According to the UN report, the urban divide is the result of economic, social, political and cultural exclusion. Income inequalities are generally high in developing countries, particularly in Asia.

    The degree of inequalities in both income and consumption is greater in urban than in rural areas. Income inequalities also reflect the spatial divide in cities. The poor, unable to afford shelter in fully serviced areas, are confined to the least desirable spaces while the rich can invest in housing in secluded places.

    The emergence of gated communities clearly illustrates socioeconomic clustering in our cities. The physical and social distance between poor and rich neighbourhoods represents a spatial poverty trap. The urban advantage continues to elude the poor creating an opportunity divide.

    The opportunities which should be shared by all are apportioned by a select few interest groups who manage to capture the institutions. The poor are thus deprived of proper shelter, basic utilities and dignified employment to which they are entitled.

    The concept of the right to the city has evolved over the last several years in response to the need for creating better opportunities for all, particularly the poor and marginal sections. A world charter on right to the city was devised in 2004 by some civil society organisations in association with Unesco and UN-Habitat.

    Bridging the urban divide calls for a holistic approach. A survey of 27 cities by the UN suggests that lack of inclusive development policies is a major factor restricting the rights, opportunities and aspirations of the weaker segments of the society.

    The concept of right to the city may be deployed in various ways across different regions and cities of the world. Brazil included the right to the city in its constitution as far back as 1988. Rosario, the third largest city in Argentina, declared itself a ‘Human Rights City’ with a commitment to openness, transparency and accountability.

    RTI power

    In India, the Citizen’s Charter is seen as an attempt to ensure the services a citizen is entitled to. The Right to Information Act has actually emerged as a more powerful tool in promoting transparency.

    The UN report has outlined certain strategic steps to bridge the urban divide and promote an inclusive city. First, it is essential to build more effective and stronger institutions which can pave the way for genuine change as different from the existing ones generally perceived as favouring the rich and the powerful.

    Secondly, necessary linkages should be established among the various tiers of government (Central, state and local) to promote better coordination amongst them, and also between public authorities and civil society including the private sector.

    Thirdly, cities need a clear vision of their future that is based on its specific identity, comparative advantage, geographic endowments and cultural dimensions. The vision should be converted into a workable plan and endorsed by the broadest possible constituency. Finally, it is important to ensure the redistribution of opportunities across the urban populations.

    In India, we lack a coherent policy towards the development of cities. There have no doubt been a number of projects and schemes to upgrade urban infrastructure, provide housing for the poor and improve the environment of slums. But there has been no policy that addresses the fundamental problems of urban inequalities.

    As a result, while the average incomes of city dwellers might have increased, the economic and social disparities have widened. The urban poor lack minimum housing facilities including basic amenities, even as luxury homes abound. The land use pattern is highly skewed in favour of the rich and influential. The various programmes and investments have not necessarily ensued in higher inclusion.

    The system of reservation in municipal elections (for SCs, STs, OBCs and women) might be said to have ensured a certain degree of political inclusion. However, this has not actually translated into social justice to the really poor and deprived. It is time the right to the city is viewed in its proper perspective and policies aimed at balanced and multicultural type of urban development are formulated to transform our urban centres into truly inclusive cities.

    (The writer is an advisor to the chief minister on urban affairs)

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