In a recent incident in Bangalore, residents of Shobha Garnet woke up to the shock of their apartment compound being razed down by the municipality since a part of it was apparently built on encroached land of Iblur lake. The incident came as a blow to the residents as their apartment was built by one of India’s top Real Estate Developers – Sobha Developers.
Besides Sobha Garnet, there were other two popular building projects, Sun City and Sunshine, that were razed down by the municipality as they were all constructed on the encroached land. According to the municipality officials, Sobha Garnet had encroached upon 4 guntas, Sun City on 5 guntas and Sunshine on 7 guntas of the Iblur Lake bed. The Bangalore Urban Deputy Commissioner, GC Prakash quoted that, “The Iblur lake that existed on the survey no. 36 was spread across an area of 18 acres and 6 guntas, but the area has been reduced to 7 acres and 32 guntas. There were 17 encroachments on the lake bed that include the premier developer Sobha, Sunshine, Sun City and Joseph Associates. There was a temple, private school, tennis court, hoardings, a commercial complex, road, apartments, sump besides a lawn, garden and underground water storage tank.” He further stated that there are property documents to prove that the developers and others had sought permission and sanction from various municipalities – the BDA, the BBMP and the BMRDA, but most of them had neither obtained a sanctioned plan from the civic authorities nor had clearances from the revenue department.
The municipality not just razed down the residential complexes but also a commercial complex that was constructed in the same lane a few feet away. The bulldozers continued razing down the buildings despite stiff resistance from the residents, where a few women residents tried to stall the bulldozers. The irate residents claimed that they were given a notice regarding the demolition only on Monday evening, whereas the demolition took place on Tuesday morning.
Most of the residents skipped their work due to the commotion and witnessed the compound wall being razed down and palm trees being uprooted. Sobha Garnet is a 12 year old building that consists of 87 apartments with a few renowned IT and sports personalities as its residents. The apartment building also has a water tank along the compound wall and has been granted 5 days to make alternate arrangements. Residents from Sobha Garnet stated that they have an ‘A’ Khata and that they have paid all the taxes. They also expressed their grief towards the potential threat to the water sump and the fire control system. They also claimed that the notice had gone to the developers rather than the residents and blamed the developers for their callous behavior towards the issue.
B R Dayanand, Tahsildar, South Taluk stated that the encroached land will be handed over to the BDA for the maintenance of the Iblur Lake. They said they held the developers guilty as the eviction notice was even followed by a verbal intimation in November. Meanwhile, Sobha Developers, in its defense, stated that the actions of the authorities were arbitrary and illegal.
The above incident may prove to be a learning lesson for the property buyers in Bangalore as even those who have purchased their homes from popular builders/developers can never be too sure of the authenticity of the property documents. Hence, as a buyer it is only prudent to follow a strategy of verifying the property documents and further seeking a legal opinion irrespective of the reputation of the builder. It is your asset and, therefore, it is in your best interest to safeguard it. This incident also highlights the grave need to make real estate transparent by making the surveyed records of land ownership and building plan approvals public.