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BBMP to regulate unlicenced businesses in Bengaluru as citizens flag problems

INDBBMP to regulate unlicenced businesses in Bengaluru as citizens flag problems

A file photo of vehicles parked on the footpath on 100 Feet Road at Indiranagar in Bengaluru. The major problem stemming from unregulated establishments is that of parking. 
| Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

Recently, residents of Indiranagar had filed a Right to Information (RTI) query to find out the number of trade licences that were issued by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in the Hoysala Nagar ward for the year 2023-24. While the civic body replied that 378 licences were issued, residents allege that there are more than 300 non-licenced establishments in that ward alone. 

“Around 90% of the licences are issued to establishments on arterial roads. But, in the bylanes, on roads which are not 40 feet in width, hundreds of commercial establishments exist,” said Sneha Nandihal from I Change Indiranagar.  

This discrepancy is not exclusive to one ward. According to the data provided by BBMP, by the end of the year 2023-24, only 46,133 licences were issued across eight zones. The number of licences went up by 3,226 between 2022-23 (when the total number of licences was 42,907) and 2023-24.  

The numbers went up slightly in 2024-25 as 3,736 new licences have been issued. Along with this, 32,924 licences were renewed taking the tally to 36,660.

Even though the renewal numbers are expected to rise in the coming months, the numbers are grossly fewer compared to the trade establishments that operate in Bengaluru, according to citizens and officials.  

“When I was the zonal commissioner of Rajarajeshwari Nagar zone, we had identified 3,000 establishments operating without a licence in one zone,” said Surolkar Vikas Kishore, Special Commissioner, Health and Sanitisation, BBMP. 

Many citizens claim that despite being aware of these illegal establishments, BBMP fails to act unless citizens complain about them.

Murali Govindarajulu, Whitefield ward committee member, said, “The BBMP neither issues any licences to these establishments nor acts against them. Instead of being proactive, they always wait for a complainant.”

While the civic body mandates relinquishing some space in the front for buildings on arterial roads, it does not take custody of such space, resulting in petty businesses cropping up in such spaces. “The civic body can use such space for public parking or street hawkers,” Mr. Govindarajulu said.  

BBMP is now mulling over relaxing the norms of licencing in a bid to regulate commercial establishments, with an eye on revenue generation.

Mr. Kishore said, “While we continue to act against commercial establishments on roads that lack the necessary width to accommodate them, we want to provide licences to establishments operating on smaller roads. We can get revenue and regulate them at the same time.” 

Perennial problem of parking

The major problem stemming from unregulated establishments is that of parking. With no clause in the BBMP’s trade licence application about the provision of parking space, commercial establishments, even those that have licences, end up renting out their basements (which are meant for parking) to smaller commercial businesses. 

Ms. Nandihal said, “We had submitted another RTI query asking how many trade licences were issued based on parking provisions specified in the Master Plan, but we are yet to get a reply even though it has been almost two months.” 

She added, “Despite a order by the High Court of Karnataka stating that residential sites cannot be used for commercial parking, many establishments continue to do so. Valet parking has become a huge problem for residents. The valet drivers park vehicles of their customers in front of our houses.” 

With substantial space on roads taken up for parking vehicles, congestion is a major problem on most main roads in the city.

Mr. Govindarajulu said, “During licence renewal, the BBMP should ensure that the basements that are sanctioned for parking are utilised only for parking, and not for any other purpose.”

Mr. Kishore said the BBMP is revamping its licence application process. “We want to bring in a format where applicants have to specify or commit to certain points in writing,” he said.

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