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Raj Nagar fire: GDA yet to act on breach of land use norms

noida Updated: May 20, 2016 01:22 IST
Peeyush Khandelwal
Peeyush Khandelwal
Hindustan Times
Raj Nagar fire

The previous owner of the Raj Nagar building had applied for land use conversion in 2002 but the authority rejected the application in 2014. (Sakib Ali/HT File Photo)

The Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) is yet to take action against the owner of the building in Raj Nagar where five Indiamart employees died in a fire on May 14. Officials said the building owner is violating land use norms by running commercial activities on residential land.

Officials of the authority’s zonal department said they have served at least three notices to the building owner. The first notice was served in July 2012 for running commercial activities, after which a reminder was issued in August 2012 and a second reminder sent in the same month, warning that the building would be sealed. However, no action was taken on the ground despite three notices being served.

It has been revealed that all notices were sent in the name of Renu Singhal, the building’s previous owner, who had applied for conversion of building from residential to commercial use with a compounding map (building plan) in 2002. This was done under a voluntary disclosure scheme.

In all these years, there has been no action on the applications and the authority decided to cancel Singhal’s application around 12 years later, in November 2014. A letter was also sent to the applicant in December 2014, stating the cancellation of the 2002 application.

The authority later decided to refund the application amount of `1 lakh after deducting of `10,000 as processing fees. Singhal, in the meantime, had sold the building to Radhey Shyam Sharma, the current owner.

“The building was not sealed despite running commercial operations in an unauthorised manner. So far, we have decided that we will provide all records to the inquiry officer who is conducting the magisterial inquiry. Depositing money by the building owner does not entitle a land use change. It also does not mean that the compounding map was cleared and sanctioned,” Ravindra Godbole, authority’s secretary and officiating vice-chairman, said.

Families of some of the victims had raised the issue of lack of fire safety measures in the building. Rajnish Sharma, son of the current building owner, had told HT that they (him and his father) have a commercial registry of the building.

The spokesperson of Indiamart had also said that the building was declared as a property for commercial use under the agreement with the building owner. Indiamart had a sales office on the second floor and five out of 11 employees died in the fire.