iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Lucknow, November 20, 2013
With the high court bench here ordering the demolition of a city hotel, the state government has asked development authorities to desist from arbitrary compounding of unauthorised buildings. In a missive, the state’s housing department has drawn the attention of development authorities towards the Supreme Court and high court orders that term compounding of illegal structures as detrimental to the concept of planned development.

For errant builders, applying for compounding of their unauthorised structure is a tried and time-tested formula to stave off any threat to their project.

“All proceedings against an unauthorised construction come to a halt, the moment the builder deposits a token amount by way of compounding fee with the development authority,” admitted an engineer of the LDA’s regulation of building operation cell. What he did not reveal, however, was that an amount several times more than what is deposited by the builder as token fee for compounding, also goes into the pocket of some enforcement officials.

The hotel is not a lone case.

By LDA’s own admission there are at least 143 such illegal constructions against which demolition orders have been passed but are pending implementation for past several years.

“Demolition orders, whether by courts or an executive authority, have remained on paper simply because we lack the courage and the will to take on the influential and powerful builders lobby,” says a development authority official. “If one court passes any stricture against them, they immediately go in appeal before the higher one,” point out another official.

He recalls two similar demolition orders passed by the court against two very prominent unauthorised constructions in the city.

One, again for the demolition of a hotel built in violation of land-use norms in a residential locality in Mahanagar and the second against illegal structures in a private township on Faizabad Road reportedly on land that was once a pond.

Secretary, housing, Rajiv Aggarwal had issued an order on July 5 under which all development authorities were asked to post details related to sanctioning of building maps, list of unauthorised structures and prepare an action plan for their demolition within six months.

The order was in compliance of yet another order passed by the high court in a case RD Lodhi versus Commissioner, Lucknow Division on regularisation of unauthorized constructions and compounding. Forget preparing an action plan, none of the development authorities in the state, posted even the basic details on their websites.