Through THE Hindustan Times, I would like to thank JL Ajmani for doing me the courtesy of reading my article and reacting to it. Certainly there is no reason why encroachment should not be removed though the point made by me that it is not clear whether the Municipal Corporation has any jurisdiction remains.
Once a special law is enacted for dealing with a particular development, the corporation’s jurisdiction will lie outside the precincts of apartments. Action within the property has to be taken by the association, the board of managers and the competent authority appointed under the MP Prakoshtha Swamitva Adhiniyam. Because the Government has not notified such a competent authority, it is the Housing and Environment Department, which will have to take a view on who is competent to remove illegal constructions within the compound of Ansal Apartments.
It is not factually correct that the deed of apartment does not indicate the area for the exclusive use of the flat owner. I have myself seen certain registrations, which categorically indicate the area, which is set aside for the exclusive use of an apartment on the ground floor. The details can be supplied to any enquiry committee which government might like to appoint.
The position in Ansal Apartments is that the main door of the drawing-cum-dining room on the ground floor will open on to public space after the action taken recently. That door, therefore, can never be kept open.
The flat owner will have to sit cooped up within the flat because he has no place where he can enjoy the open air. The upper floor flats have a lobby, which provides some crush area and protects the front door. They have balconies where the flat owner can keep a few chairs. Incidentally, if no projection can be allowed on the ground floor even to protect the front door from the weather the projection of the balconies is also over the common space and is equally illegal. In that case all balconies must be demolished.
Should this also not form a part of the agenda of the board of managers?
Those whose deed of apartment specifies the area for their exclusive use for which they have paid the price, registration fees and stamp duty do have a legal right to demarcate their property and at least protect it adequately so that they can use it exclusively. It is for the proposed committee to decide how many people on the ground floor are entitled to this right.
Without even trying to find out if such a right exists all boundary walls and fences have been demolished. In many cases, there is a level difference of as much as ten feet between back to back apartments and in order to prevent accidents parapets or fences were constructed there. Even these have been removed. The level differences are such that service lanes cannot be built and in the absence of a protective parapet people can have nasty falls.
In whose interest would this be? I stand by my view that government should hold a high-powered enquiry into every aspect of Ansal Apartments and come out with an authoritative statement of policy.
M N Buch