Illegal constructions: affluent thrive while poor pay

  • Nitindra Bandyopadhyay, Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
  • Updated: Mar 16, 2015 20:27 IST

The corruption, which has engulfed the whole Town Planning Department of the Municipal Corporation of the city, came to fore on Monday when senior deputy mayor carried out a surprise inspection at illegal constructions in the city.

A high level meeting was held on March 12, 2015 which was attended by the mayor, senior deputy mayor, commissioner, senior town planner and municipal town planner. In this meeting Kamaljit Bhatia, senior deputy mayor raised the issue of illegal construction in the city in reply to which other officials ensured action.

Officials of the town planning department razed more than 51 buildings the following day, in which none of the big sharks were targeted. Some building owners who suffered the brunt of the demolition drive alleged that despite having legal permission they faced the flak of MC's drive which was planned in a jiffy to silence the matter.

On Monday morning Kamaljit Bhatia raided three buildings being built by big shot doctors of the city. He even called the master of town planning and senior town planner near the Akal Eye Center in Model Town area and showed them the extent of violation. The crux of the event was that construction work was carried out in one of the buildings which were earlier sealed by the MC officials.

Meanwhile, instead of initiating action STP Shakti Sagar Bhatia kept on defending the owner of the building. A hospital coming up near Gurunanak Mission Chowk being built by Doctor Atul Mittal was served notice on November 21, 2014 for violating building bylaws but no action has been initiated till date against the defaulters.

The building owner even claimed that he has done required settlement with the MC officials and hence the illegal construction cannot be razed. Another building which is owned by Dr Raman Chawla was also found to be in violation with the current building bylaws but the corporation officials have failed to initiate any action on it.

"We are doing what our department is entitled to do but there are some illegal structures which were raised during my predecessors term and I am not responsible for it. I cannot demolish the building till written permission is given by the commissioner," Bhatia said.

When asked, municipal corporation commissioner Gurpreet Khehra said that he has ordered strict action against all the illegal buildings in the city. He summoned the STP to his office and asked about the action being initiated against the three buildings where violations were pointed out by Bhatia on Monday.

When the STP presented the files of the said buildings before the commissioner it was revealed that action was to be initiated against all these buildings long time back but the officials of the town planning department were shielding the violators, which goes on to show how the department went cold when it came to action against affluent people.

"Most of the illegal structures come up in the city in connivance with the officials of the town planning department. On one hand the corporation is ailing due to fund crunch but a look at the lifestyle of the officials clearly suggests that they are being bribed to the brim and the MC is a mute spectator of the rampant corruption gnawing its foundation," Bhatia said.

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