Misuse penalty: UT admn plans Parliament route finally

  • Aarish Chhabra, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Mar 09, 2015 12:30 IST

On the sensitive issue of building misuse and structural violations as per the UT’s strict bylaws, the Chandigarh administration now plans to seek Parliament’s nod to increase the misuse fine.

In 2007, the UT administration had formulated new Estate Rules, and the charges were enhanced from Rs 10 per square foot per month to Rs 500. Over 1,000 notices were issued, and for older allotments the rules were amended in 2009 to send more notices with retrospective effect.

Ranging from changes in structures or commercial use of houses, to using industrial plots for purposes other than manufacturing, the fine imposed ran into crores. This led to a hue and cry, particularly among industrialists who faced notices that amounted to the price of their plots in some cases.

Then the Punjab and Haryana high court, in 2012, observed in a case that the administration is 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.

Now, the administration finally appears to have got on that track.

The plan, if and when the Parliament nod is granted, is to make slabs ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 300 — lowest for industry and highest for residential properties— for the misuse, said sources.

When contacted, UT finance secretary Sarvjit Singh confirmed that the administration would seek an “enabling provision”in the law so that it can determine the misuse charges.

Given the schedule of Parliament and the cumbersome procedures and objections involved, the plan could only prolong the matter, observers said.

The industry lobby remains unhappy. “These bylaws and norms are several decades old. At a time when we are seeking permission for more activities in industrial area, rather than including these in the industrial policy, the administration is still working on the misuse charges,”remarked Arun Mahajan, president of the Industries Association of Chandigarh.

While there is a raging debate on allowing need-based changes in houses, industrialists have been seeking relaxation in general by following the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act (MSMED) Act, 2006. “The administration should take a pragmatic view. Addressing the issue of need-based changes along with the MSMED Act will change what constitutes misuse,”Mahajan added.

Under the Act, ‘industry’ has been replaced by ‘enterprises’, and several more services are allowed, including sale of vehicles, retail sale, stalls and markets, hotels, warehouses, hospitals and theatres. Some industries in Chandigarh had changed the nature of their activity under a conversion policy from 2005 to 2008, but a large section termed the cost of the conversion prohibitive.

Even the Union ministry of home affairs had pulled up the UT officers at a meeting around a year and a half ago over not implementing the MSMED Act.

More recently, the UT industries director held a meeting with industrialists where the latter listed implementation of the MSMED Act as one of their prime expectations from the long-in-the-works industrial policy. aarish.chhabra@hindustantimes.com

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