Ulsoor Lake area is one of the prime neighbourhoods with high property rates. In the proposed buffer corridor of 75 m around Ulsoor Lake, there are 158 properties and sadly, they will be devalued in future. Cut to Bengaluru West. Around the 135-year-old Sankey Lake, there are 116 buildings on the buffer that cannot go in for re-development and resale would be a difficult deal.

For, if you own a property in the 88 sq km of buffer zone as notified in the Revised Masterplan 2031 — anywhere on the 75-metre buffer around lakes and drains — expect a shocker coming your way. Such properties will have to continue as it’s — without any scope for redevelopment — as authorities will not sanction revised development plan in the buffer zone.

Even as the deadline for filing suggestions/objections to RMP is round the corner (January 23), it doesn’t look like Bengalureans have realised what is in store for them. At least those living in the vicinity of a lake, a valley and a secondary drain.

This means, RMP 2031 has brought the value of properties in these buffer corridors to near zero. The 88 sq km of buffer zone translates into a staggering 21,000-odd acres — properties on this huge extent of land will lose its value. And government acquiring such properties by paying compensation as per market value doesn’t sound workable in the current scenario.

According to a property analysis done by residents’ group, Ulsoor Lake, spread over 123 acres, has 60.34 acres falling under the buffer zone. There are 158 buildings in the buffer corridor with an estimated population of 13,700. The 37-acre Sankey Tank has 116 properties, home to 1,044 people. In these areas, the realty market value is anywhere between 10,000/sqft and Rs 15,000/sqft.

Take this simple case: Imagine a 2,400 sqft property in any of these areas located in the buffer ring. The building owner cannot plan a redevelopment or a joint development with a builder. S/he will not get the revised building plan sanction from BBMP, citing the buffer zone order.

Urban affairs analyst V Ravichandar, also a member of BBMP restructuring committee, has some questions about the proposed 88 sq km buffer: What extent of it is built up? What is the plan for these built-up areas? If it is to remain as it’s and no future permission for redevelopment will ever be given (as is the situation currently), it runs the risk of owners neglecting these properties since there is no resale value. A similar thing happened on a large scale in South Bombay due to the Rent Control Act. Say, if 50 sq km of the 88 sq km buffer zone is already built up, what does the government plan to do?

Experts Seek Roadmap

“Paying for it through acquisition will be prohibitively expensive and unlikely to happen. How does one resolve this conundrum? It’s nobody’s case that we need to violate sound ecological principles in Bangalore, but we need a roadmap to fix it appropriately,’’ he said.

Buffer zones around lakes/drains have been a major point of concern for developers and landowners of Bengaluru. In fact, even before the RMP 2031, half a decade back, most of the lake-facing buildings were sold with a premium tag providing superior views. They are facing regulatory issues owing to new regulations, says Shrinivas Rao, CEO- Asia Pacific, Vestian Global Workspace Services.

“Smaller land parcels may be affected more. Whether there is a retrospective effect on under construction and already constructed projects, it remains to be seen,” he added.

The Buffer Zone Order

Toeing the National Green Tribunal’s last year order, the RMP 2031 notified that in case of lakes, 75 metre from the periphery of all water bodies to be maintained as green belt and buffer zone; 50 metre from the edge of the primary raja kaluve and 35 metre from the edges of secondary drains. The NGT has also ordered that this buffer/ green zone would be treated as no construction zones and RMP 2031 zonal regulations have taken into account NGT’s directions.

Move Curtails Bengaluru’s Growth: State in SC

“In a rapidly growing city like Bengaluru, such huge buffer zones around lakes and drains area are not at all required to be kept. There is acute shortage of land in Bangalore and if such buffer space is kept, it is impossible for the common man to have housing or work space. The land price is skyrocketing and with the buffer zone of such magnitude, it would virtually take away the ability of the city to grow. Small site owners will not be able to build a house.”

BUFFER IN OTHER CITIES

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