Recently, Bangalore has seen massive drives by the revenue department to remove encroachments from lake banks, lake
beds and reclamations of these water bodies. This has led to major demolitions properties on encroached lake beds by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to reclaim the encroached lake land.
The major anti-encroachment drives along Sarakki Lake in South Bangalore, followed by similar drives at Banaswadi Lake, have created a battlefield scene in the city. About 35 acres of Sarakki Lake and more than 2 acres of Banaswadi Lake have been encroached. Many properties along these lake beds have been razed, leaving the occupants helpless.
Though most of this situation is irreversible, homebuyers should view future developments along lake beds with extreme caution. Many existing home owners are now questioning themselves and seeking reassurance about the legality of their properties.
Is there a solution – and is a solution even possible when even developments promoted by local development authorities have come into the cross-fire?
Chances of such situations arising will always exist, since the local authorities are evidently not taking up their responsibility of carrying out necessary due diligence whenever proposals for properties on such lands are submitted for approval.
Buyers can, however, follow certain additional steps as part of their own due diligence process before buying such a property. This additional check list may require support from legal experts to verify the documents involved:
Due diligence of the certified copies of registered title deed of the land parcel on which the property is to be built, to establish clear title of the land.
Based on the survey numbers mentioned in the title deed, the land use of the land parcel approved by the Master Plan of the development authorities should be checked. In the case of Bangalore, refer the latest Master Plan by Bangalore Development Authority (BDA)/ Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA)/ Bangalore International Airport Area Planning Authority (BIAAPA)/ Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) based on the location of the land.
Based on the survey numbers, approval from the LDA (Lake Development Authority) for development of the property on the land must be checked.
In addition to these checks, which are specific to lake encroachments or encroachment of any environmentally-sensitive areas such as forest land, marshy land, etc., one should check the following approvals as well:
Height approvals or setbacks from BBMP
Water supply board, electricity board and sewerage board approvals
Proof of adherence to National Building Code (NBC) standards for safety from fire and other hazards, if applicable to the building.
Although no checklist can be fool-proof, these additional pointers serve as add-ons to the due diligence each buyer carries out personally. In the absence of any clear guidelines or a properly laid-out list of due diligence, these can serve as basic guidelines to avoid any future hassles.
With the growing sensitivity towards environment and increased awareness after the recent-year rulings by National Green Tribunal (NGT) in the National Capital Region, there will be new guidelines formed by various city development authorities to safeguard the environment. As such, properties coming within the purview of such areas may face an unfortunate fate. The added level of caution prescribed above can save buyers from the nightmare of having their homes demolished – and their investments sunk.
Assistant Vice President,
Research and REIS,