Finally, the Chandigarh estate office has started issuing notices seeking explanation for building bylaws’ violation in Sector 17 by government departments of Punjab and Haryana. However, the notices, which come after HT reported the matter on September 9, only ask for a compliance report at the earliest and do not threaten penalty as of now.
In case of similar violations committed in private shop-cum-offices (SCO), the estate office has been issuing penalty notices of `500 per square foot per month. The office has, in fact, resumed a large number of private commercial buildings for violations in different sectors. Most prominent hotels in Sector 35 are learnt to be operating from resumed sites.
There are around 50 offices of both the states functioning from government-owned buildings in Sector 17, and majority of them have not complied with the norms. The estate office is in the same sector.
Assistant estate officer (AEO) Rahul Gupta said the bylaws “are applicable to everyone”. But when asked about no punitive action or penalty notice as of now, Gupta said, “Government departments cannot be compared with private traders, as they are not into commercial activities. The space is being used for discharging duties for the benefit of the public.”
All buildings in the city are governed by provisions of the Punjab Capital Act 1952. Some of the violations done by the government departments include fully covered verandahs up to the parapet with cabins of wood or fixed material. In many cases, verandahs have been used for dumping old furniture and files. The departments have also deviated from the sanctioned plans by making changes in the internal planning. Corridors have also been encroached upon, leaving no passage for escape in case of fire. The issue of encroachment in passages was also highlighted in a mock drill conducted by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in February.
The offices under scanner include that of the Punjab excise and tax commissioner of Punjab, director of industries, accountant general and director of civil defence, besides the Haryana directorate of industrial training, director general of state transport and the Haryana treasury office.