Karnataka revenue minister R Ashoka is in the eye of controversy after his comments targeting the IT companies in Bengaluru. The minister said more than 30 IT companies had encroached on stormwater drains while they were the most vocal lot after flooding in the city last week.
“We have asked our officers to demolish any encroachments whether its rich or poor. More than 30 IT companies have encroached storm water drains, they were talking big but many of these companies and builders have encroached. We won’t spare anyone, no question of giving time to anyone,” said R Ashoka just minutes before the Karnataka assembly session discussed flood situation in Bengaluru.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) collated a list of IT parks encroaching on stormwater drains and its buffer in August. The names include IT bigwig Wipro and other builders of tech parks like Bagmane and Eco Space.
But Mahadevapura MLA and Revenue Minister’s party colleague Arvind Limbavalli was quick to play down the minister’s claim. “What R Ashoka has said is wrong, IT companies haven’t done anything wrong. Builders have encroached and built it. That property has been rented out,” said Limbavalli.
Earlier in the month, IT and international companies on Outer Ring Road had hit out against the government for waterlogging in the IT belt. The companies had told the government that flooding had caused Rs 225 crore damage along with reputational and economic harm to the city and the state.
“The collapse of the infrastructure has drawn global concern on the city of Bengaluru’s ability to handle further growth. These companies will seek alternate destinations if the situation does not improve,” the Outer Ring Road companies’ association had said in a letter to government last week.
The demolition drive in Bengaluru is being questioned for sparing big tech parks owned by the powerful. A BBMP demolition squad, which reached Bagmane tech park Monday, and identified and marked 2.4 metres stormwater drain encroachment by the IT park, mysteriously left the spot after a few hours without demolishing it.
“One thing we have to notice is that the demolition is targeting only the middle-class people. Why are villas not being demolished? The bulldozer goes silent when it comes to the mighty,” said Congress leader Priyank Kharge.
The Basavaraj Bommai’s government, however, has promised to go after all encroachers irrespective of whether they are IT parks or small houses or villas.