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HindustanTimes Thu,10 Jul 2014

Govt depts flout building norms under estate office’s nose

Vinod Kumar, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, September 09, 2013
First Published: 11:07 IST(9/9/2013) | Last Updated: 11:08 IST(9/9/2013)

With the Chandigarh estate office having turned a blind eye, government departments of Punjab and Haryana have been flagrantly flouting building bylaws in their offices in Sector 17. The UT estate office is, in fact, located at a stone’s throw from where the illegalities flourish.

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There are around 50 offices of both the states functioning from government-owned buildings in Sector 17, and the majority of them have not complied with the norms. These include offices of the excise and tax commissioner of Punjab, director of industries, Punjab, the Punjab accountant general; director of civil defence, and the Haryana directorate of industrial training, director general of state transport, Haryana, and the treasury office of Haryana.

Many of the departments have fully covered the verandahs up to the parapet with cabins of wooden or fixed material, and these areas are being used as offices. 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.

All the buildings in the city are constructed after getting building plans sanctioned from the estate office, and provisions of the Punjab Capital Act 1952 are applicable to all buildings whether owned by the government or private.

Sources in estate office said the office had written to all the heads of departments of both the states to remove the violations, but nothing much had been done so far. “By violating the building bylaws, the government departments are also disturbing the heritage of the city,” said an official.

The estate office has thus been accused of having double standards, and being strict when it comes to private buildings. Criticising the authorities, Vinod Joshi, chairman, building bylaw committee of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal (CBM), said, “These violations in government-owned buildings continue to exist since long, but the estate office has not taken any action. However, for the same violations the office has been issuing penalty notices of Rs. 500 per square feet per month to the private owners of shop-cum-offices (SCO) located in the same area.”

“Such action is arbitrary and illegal. The authorities cannot use different yardsticks while dealing with government and private buildings,” Joshi added.

When contacted, assistant estate officer (AEO) Rahul Gupta said, “We will write to the principal secretaries of both the states asking them to remove the violations.”

Disaster mgmt survey may again underline violations

During the mega disaster-management mock drill conducted by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in February, it was found that most government buildings in Sector 17 were hazardous as the passages and verandahs were filled with files and furniture. Deputy commissioner Mohammed Shayin said that to identify such buildings, the NDMA had again been asked to conduct a survey. Action would be taken against those found not following the norms, the DC said.

Norms violated

1) Covered verandahs up to the parapet with cabins of wood or other fixed material

2) Converting verandahs into dumping spaces for old furniture and files

3) Deviation from sanctioned plans by making changes in internal planning

4) Corridors encroached upon, leaving no passage for escape in case of emergency

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