The menace of unauthorised construction throughout the city has become a new haunting factor for the Ludhiana municipal corporation (MC) officials who are unable to stop it despite the fact that top officials of the department of local bodies are aware of the problem.
All four zones of the MC are riddled with illegal and unauthorised construction with assistant town planners (ATPs) and inspectors, who are responsible to stop it, failing in their responsibility. Even the municipal commissioner of Ludhiana, Rakesh Kumar Verma, is aware of the fact that there are several illegal structures in the city.
Verma had himself told the Hindustan Times many times that "it is political pressure which stops the officials from taking action against those involved in illegal construction of a building".
A large number of hotels and other buildings are coming up in different areas of the city which are flouting building bylaws and have so far not come under the scanner of MC despite complaints.
Even local bodies minister Chunni Lal Bhagat had earlier said officials, including inspectors and ATPs of all municipalities of the state, who were directly responsible for any construction in their respective areas would face action if the department found irregularities in construction of buildings.
"We have found that there are several buildings which are illegal and have flouted norms. This will call for immediate and severe action against officials, including inspectors and ATPs of the MCs across the state, who allowed such construction," Bhagat had said.
The department may soon ask the Ludhiana MC for information on the number of illegal buildings in the city and thereafter issue show-cause notices to the ATPs of four zones asking them as to why they failed in taking action against these buildings.
Surprisingly, Verma had himself said there were nearly 4,000 illegal buildings in Ludhiana. He had also said in 2013, illegal buildings would be the MC's agenda and action and challans would be issued against violators.
It has been learnt that even in zone A of the MC, several unauthorised buildings have come up in the recent time.
Hotel Vikrant, which is in proximity to MC headquarters in zone A, had constructed unauthorised floors. Despite reporting the issue several times, the MC had failed in taking action against it. Though MC commissioner Verma had said he would look into the matter, no action had been taken.
Another building that recently came under the scanner is an under-construction hotel opposite Gian Singh Rarewala market. The building which flouted bylaws had been issued a notice by the building branch of the MC in zone D. However, no action had been taken against the building. The building had permission for four floors but it was also constructing the fifth floor.
Zone D ATP Surinder Bindra said he would look into the matter. "I will take action against the building on Monday if any discrepancies are found in the structure," he added.
However, the callous attitude of building branch officials is not the only reason for coming up of these buildings in different parts of the city. Political pressure on these officials also thwarts supposed action on these buildings. Challans are issued, but the illegal construction at these buildings is rarely demolished.
"Whenever we issue a notice to any building for flouting bylaws, we get a phone call from MLAs or ministers not to take action against these buildings," an MC official said.
MC commissioner speak
MC commissioner RK Verma said, "I have asked officials to provide me with the data of challans against illegal buildings so that proper action can be taken. I will soon get computerised lists of the challans. By the end of this year, I will be in a position to see what discrepancies have taken place so far. It can also call for action against officials who did not take serious action against illegal structures in the past."