In a major relief to city residents, the Chandigarh administration is all set to reduce misuse charges for violation of building bylaws.
At present, the estate office slaps misuse notices at Rs 500 per square foot per month for violation in both commercial and residential buildings. The violator is given time to remove violations, failing which the building is 'resumed'.
UT finance secretary Sarvjit Singh has moved a proposal for the reduction of misuse charges. The finance department intends to reduce the misuse charges to Rs 7 per square feet per day making it Rs 210 per square feet per month. Confirming the development, Sarvjit Singh said the proposal was pending with the administrator, Shivraj Patil.
In 2007, the administration had enhanced misuse charges from Rs 10 per square foot to Rs 500 per square foot with the enforcement of the Chandigarh Estate Rules, 2007. In last few years, different trader bodies, including Industries Association of Chandigarh (IAC) and Chandigarh Beopar Mandal (CBM), have been at the loggerheads with the administration demanding reduction in misuse charges.
Last year, the Industries Association of Chandigarh had requested the union ministry of home affairs (MHA) to direct the administration to revise misuse charges.
Subsequently, the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs of MHA had directed the administration to reduce the charges at the earliest.
Over the years, the estate office has been drawing flak for its incapability of developing a mechanism to curb the cases of building violations. All buildings in the city are governed by provisions of the Punjab Capital Act, 1952.
The estate office has issued around 1,500 such notices to traders in different sectors, including Sectors 17, 22, 26, 34 and 35.
A senior official said the authorities had failed to recover the misuse charges to the tune of several crores from traders.
The Punjab and Haryana high court, in a case dated October 8, 2012, had observed that the administration was not eligible to impose misuse penalty without making changes in the Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952, and getting it approved from Parliament.
The changes in the Act were not approved by Parliament. Subsequently, the administration sought opinion from its legal remembrancer (LR). In his opinion on May 30, 2013, the LR observed that the administration should not ignore the directions of the HC and advised it to regulate its course of action as per the directions.
IAC president Arun Mahajan said the administration was doing injustice to the city residents by imposing such a heavy fine. “The administration should reduce the charges at the earliest and get it approved from Parliament,” said Mahajan.
The administration had made similar attempt in 2011 but failed to make progress even after several round of meetings.