The business projects of nearly 100 traders have been hanging fire for nearly five years because of the failure on part of the UT administration to decide upon the extension fee of industrial plots converted for commercial purposes.
Not only this, the administration has been sitting on the revised building plans of the converted plots on the pretext that extension fee will be charged from the plot holders, who had failed to complete construction within the stipulated time frame of three years after getting approval for conversion from the authorities concerned.
The administration had carved out Phases 1 and 2 during the 70s over an area of 147 acres. According to the available data, there are a total of 1,781 plots in both phases, out of which 125 plot holders opted for conversion policy.
The administration had introduced the 'Chandigarh conversion of land use of industrial sites into commercial activity/services in industrial area, Phases 1 and 2' scheme vide a notification issued on September 19, 2005.
The scheme was initially floated for two years, but later extended for another six months. It was withdrawn on March 18, 2008. The administration initially charged R20,000 per square yard as conversion fee, which was enhanced to R29,713 per square yard for those whose applications were received on or after December 18, 2007. Before that, 75 industrialists had availed of the scheme on the old rate by paying 10% earnest money and balance in form of post-dated cheques.
The authority for granting sanction for conversion of industrial plots for commercial activities was initially vested with the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB). However, later the UT estate office was made the nodal agency.
During the period the policy was in operation, conversion letters were issued by both the authorities.
In the conversion letters issued by the estate office, a condition was incorporated that revised building plans will be sanctioned if the building will be completed within three years from the date of issuance of the conversion letter, failing which the applicant will be liable to pay extension fee as notified by the administration.
Surprisingly, no such condition was laid in the conversion letters issued by the Chandigarh Housing Board under the same policy. Till date, the administration has failed to determine the extension fee.
In the past few years, converted plot owners have given several representations to the administration, urging it to do away with the condition of time limit on the pattern of the CHB. The plot owners also expressed their anguish over the failure of authorities to fix the extension fee, which is having an adverse affect on construction activities.
Chandigarh Beopar Mandal (CBM) building bylaws committee chairman Vinod Joshi said the condition of completing the building within three years does not apply to the converted plots. Supporting his argument, Joshi said the buildings on the converted plots were already there. Therefore, conversion is only of land use and it is not allotment of new plot.
Despite repeated attempts, UT finance secretary VK Singh was not available for comment.