Tepid response to the new marriage policy in Punjab
As per the latest figures from housing and urban development , there are nearly 1214 existing marriage palaces in the state outside municipal limitpunjab Updated: Dec 02, 2017 16:15 IST
In the latest opportunity for the regularization of illegal marriage palaces, different development authorities under the department of housing and urban development (HUD) received nearly 60 applications for regularization. Both HUD and department of local government (DLG) have received a total of 1410 applications for regularization from time to time.
The Punjab government through its August, 2017 notification, ‘policy guidelines and building norms for regularization of existing marriage palaces and for setting up of new marriage palaces’ had offered a second window of around three months, within a span of a year, for owners of illegal marriage palaces to regularize these. The last date for the submission of regularization applications was October 31.
Is the problem over?
The state government’s White paper on governance, presented in the state assembly in June this year, had stated, “A total of 1180 unauthorized marriage palaces were identified functioning outside the municipal limits”. As per the latest figures from HUD, there are nearly 1214 existing marriage palaces in the state outside municipal limit. Within the DLG jurisdiction, the number stands at 738.
Owners of nearly 182 marriage palaces have not applied for regularization, as per the latest data available from HUD and DLG. Under the jurisdiction of DLG, by mid-November, only 72 marriage palaces were regularised. According to the state government’s notification in August this year, “about 580 marriage palaces remain unauthorised as they did not meet the criteria”.
New versus existing unauthorised
A senior DLG official, on the condition of anonymity, stated that while the number of illegal marriage palaces consistently increased in the state, the applications seeking approval for setting up of new marriage palaces average less than ten a year. The reasons, said the official, included, firstly, government keep repeatedly giving opportunities for illegal marriage palaces to be regularised, and, “Conditions for getting approvals for setting up a new marriage palaces are much tougher and costlier than getting an illegal marriage palace regularised”.
The notification for regularization of marriage palaces dated November, 2012 allowed for regularization of marriage palaces constructed on or before January, 2012. Notification that came in August 2016, gave the cut-off date till August 2016. This year the state government fixed the date of notification of new guidelines, that is, August 11, 2017 as the cut-off date for applying for regularization.
Though, incentivizing regularization of illegal marriage palaces, the government policy puts the owners of new marriage palace at a major disadvantage. For the owners of the unauthorised marriage palaces seeking regularisation, the policy allows for relaxation in the case of setbacks, which is not the case for new applicants. The policy relaxes parking norms by 20% in the case of parking space to be provided in the vicinity of the existing palaces.
There is no such relaxation for new approvals. Another relaxation is in the case of minimum distance required from school, college, hospital, etc. In the case of existing marriage palaces, the minimum distance of 100 m has been done away with, which is applicable in the case of new approvals. The development charges in case of the new approvals are to be paid in one year in two installments, but, the existing marriage palace owner can pay development charges in six equal installments in six months with no interest being charged on installments.
Similarly, there is relaxation in terms of minimum area required; it is 1200 sq m for existing marriage palaces, while for the new approvals it is 2000 sq m. Similarly, the minimum road width requirement for the illegal marriage palace is 12 m, for the new approval it is 18 m. In case of regularised marriage palace, the development charges (CLU, EDC, SIF, and PF) on 50% parking space have been waived whereas in case of new palaces the full charges are applicable.