Three days after five employees of Indiamart died in a fire incident in Raj Nagar, the Ghaziabad development authority (GDA) has sought reports from its department concerned on the land use status of the building.
Rajnish Sharma, son of the building owner, on Sunday told HT they have a commercial registry for the building and have been paying the house tax at commercial rates. He said they have a commercial electricity connection. Sharma said his father did not receive any challan from the GDA and has a receipt of Rs 5 lakh issued in 1998 for change of the building status to commercial land use. He said the receipt was given to them by the previous owner of the building.
But officials of the GDA said the building has permit for residential land use and is not meant for commercial operations. Authority officials said a commercial registry, payment of house tax at commercial rates and commercial electricity connection have nothing to do with land use. “Payments made at commercial rates do not qualify a property for land use change. We have called for a factual report from the enforcement and property sections. If there is any violation of land use, accountability for violation and negligence will be fixed,” said RP Pandey, authority’s officer on special duty (OSD).
GDA officials said the authority floated a one-time settlement scheme in 1998 and many property owners had applied. But later it was decided that no case of land use conversion will be settled. “We published a public notice in 2012-13, asking applicants to claim refunds. Land use conversion is a complex process where approvals are needed from the GDA board and government. Also, public objections and viability factors are taken into consideration,” said DP Singh, also authority OSD.
A spokesperson from Indiamart said they are checking the agreement with the building owner. “In the agreement, the building was declared a property for commercial use,” the spokesperson said.