HT Chandigarh Readers’ Take: No space for violation of building bye-laws
Do we want to live in a city of slums?
One time regularisation of large scale building violations in rehabilitation colonies will be irrational, illogical and fraught with adverse implications, not only for the residents of these colonies but also for Chandigarh’s basic fabric and structure. Rehabilitation colonies are always planned based on minimum threshold of liveability and sustainability. Adding more area, more population and more activities will invariably lead to uncontrolled congestion, acute shortage of basic infrastructure, services and quality of life. Adding more space and activities beyond their capacity will turn these places into slums, defeating the very purpose for which they were planned and created. A detailed and objective evaluation will be required before any decision is taken. Considering the larger implications of regularising unauthorised construction, this will put in motion large scale similar constructions in other colonies and villages in UT, and destroy the very fabric of Chandigarh. If this is the intention of city fathers and part of their political agenda, the MC should be given all the power and unbridled authority to frame the policy, approve it and sincerely implement it to make Chandigarh a city of slums characterised by haphazard and large scale unauthorised and unplanned development.
Jit Kumar Gupta, Chandigarh
Hefty penalty a must
The MC should definitely not regularise large scale building violations in rehabilitation colonies. Doing so will encourage other people to do the same, who will know that all they have to do for approvals of housing units is pay a small penalty. The MC should ensure that such buildings are destroyed and the owners charged a hefty penalty.
Others will be encouraged to break rules
MC must not allow large-scale building violations in rehabilitation colonies. Such a move gives tacit licence to others to break the rules in future. Regularisation processes will then become an unending ordeal for civic authorities. The department of urban planning of the Chandigarh administration should be given the authority to take cognisance of and deal with such problems. It is the only government agency qualified to ensure that Chandigarh is saved from cumulative urban blight. I suggest a unit in the state department be set up to study and document why such violations occur and work out ways of discouraging them while respecting people’s new requirements ushered in by socio-economic changes. A periodic examination of the building rules should be done as part of the planning principles and policy and necessary amendments warranted by development made beforehand. This is a sane way to conserve the original concept of the city beautiful based on Sun, Space, and Verdure – a farsighted idea that has made it a World City, not a merely world-class city.
Dr SS Bhatti, Chandigarh
One-time settlement only
To rehabilitate residents of Chandigarh, particularly those belonging to the poor strata, Chandigarh administration, Chandigarh Housing Board, MC built dwelling units of several types. Out of these, normally several houses are of EWS or LIG houses just with one room accommodation with a little space in and outside of the room. In certain cases, only a single room is built without toilets as people are expected to use public toilets close by. With time, however, families grow and compel the allottees to add extensions to the housing units, which are treated as violations of the terms and conditions of the allotment. Though this could be risky when it comes to stability of the structure, poor families are forced to make the changes. MC authorities therefore need to take a compassionate decision to give them a chance to regularise the changes after paying a reasonable charge. However, this should be a one-time concession. Habitual offenders should not be allowed to make a mockery of the system.
SK Khosla, Chandigarh
Families compelled to make changes
When the houses are allotted to the economically weaker sections either by the MC, estate office or the Chandigarh Housing Board, these houses are in a very shabby condition and are hardly liveable. Certain units don’t even have toilets and allottees are expected to use public conveniences. But gradually when families expand, the home owners renovate the units and then they are called encroachers. This is strange. The authorities concerned should compare the units and see which families actually desperately needed to make the changes and accordingly after ensuring the safety of the structures get these regularised. The homes of very poor families should definitely not be demolished.
DS Chahal, Chandigarh
Deal strictly with violations
One time regularisation is a good move by the administration provided it doesn’t become a norm. Strict implementation of any rule is lacking in our system of governance and so those violating building norms need to be dealt with strictly. To set an example, let there be resumption of some plots/flats thereby ensuring that no one dares bend the rules.
Sending a wrong message
Regularising violations will send the wrong message to the public that everyone is free to break the rules, which will pave the way for unlimited changes. However, given the risk to structures because of the violations, regular checks should be conducted to ensure people stick to the rules. Allottees should be made to pay hefty penalties for violations.
Amanpreet Kaur Bains, Kurali
Don’t demolish buildings
Demolition of a building if it is structurally safe should not be ordered, but to prevent repeat violations the administration should ensure that the homeowners are made to pay steep fines so that they do not repeat such acts again.
Time for a fresh start
The MC is right in its decision to grant one-time regularisation of large-scale building violations in rehabilitation colonies. The reason is that most of these violations were done years ago and in case the home owners are penalised they are likely to move court for relief. It will then take years for the issues to be resolved. In many cases the violations have taken place because of poor enforcement of the extant rules and regulations by the MC officials. We will also have an opportunity to start afresh the implementation of the current regulations governing the rehabilitation colonies once the legacy violations are taken care of. One essential rider before regularising the building violations is that there will be no further tolerance by the MC of any violations henceforth.
Anil Kumar Yadav
Don’t set a bad precedent
Chandigarh is the first planned city of the country. Therefore, rehabilitation colonies have also been developed with structural designs aimed at creating uniformity in design. The residents in these colonies have resorted to major building / structural changes and encroachments .The MC’s plan to regularise the violations might give relief in existing cases but it should not set a precedent for cases in future. Any violations after regularisation must be penalised heavily and the structure demolished.
SS Arora, Mohali
As a goodwill measure the authorities should regularise all buildings which are structurally safe and fall under extended FAR (floor area ratio) as a one-time measure. Some building authorities are increasing FAR keeping in view space restrictions within highly populated colonies. Nominal changes for regularising the violations should be imposed in rehabilitation colonies to not impose an unnecessary burden on financially backward families.
Col TBS Bedi (retd)
Law equal for all
The administration makes bye-laws to regulate construction and design of buildings. If a building plan is not prepared by an architect factoring in free flow of air and light, location and terrain, it is not approved by the government. A regulatory mechanism is put in place after consideration of factors such as requirements of neighbours. Regulating such additions, alterations and demolitions in violation of approved plan will amount to the administration rewarding rule breakers and punishing the law abiding members of the civic society. There are times when such changes also adversely affect the residents of neighbouring buildings by obstructing free flow of air/light or endangering its stability. It will not be right for the MC to implement a one-time regularisation policy for large-scale building violations not only in rehabilitation colonies but elsewhere as well. This will encourage more violations. Hence, demolition of unauthorised additions and alterations and violations should be the policy with no exception. Earning revenues by one-time regularisation policy should not be the aim. The law should apply equally to all citizens of India without any discrimination/distinction and violators should not be shown any mercy.
Col SK Aggarwal (retd), Panchkula
Only need based regularisations
The MC is to blame for the mess for not checking violations in the first place.But now regularisation can be done provided:
1. The violations are not encroachments on government land
2. The basic structure of the building is left intact and not weakened
3. Do not cause any inconvenience to anyone in the neighbourhood
4. Are strictly and judiciously need based.
MC should evolve a policy for allowing need based alterations in future.
AK Sharma, Chandigarh
Encouraging spread of slums
The MC plans to fill its coffers by regularisation of violations in housing units in rehabilitation colonies. This is an invitation to disaster as the lives of people will be at risk if the buildings are structurally weak. The MC first wasted money by rehabilitating the Sector 25 Kumhar Colony in sector 52 by constructing tin sheds, and is now rehabilitating them again in Maloya and demolishing the tin colony. Chandigarh is now not as beautiful as it used to be as councillors/ministers have been responsible for the spread of slums because of greed for votes.
Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali
No compromise on safety
While there should not be much of an objection to minor or technical violations and irregularities, it needs to be ensured that structural safety, privacy and rights of others are not compromised in any way by the regularisation. Doing so indiscriminately will only encourage people to break the rules. Everyone needs to learn that harsh punishment and strict implementation of rules will force people to comply. The authorities often look away when norms are violated and take action much later. Why wasn’t action taken against the defaulting MC officials? Rules are flouted with impunity with political support. This has to stop.
DS Banati, Mohali
On the face of it, the so called one-time regularisation policy for large scale building violations may seem to be a people friendly gesture, but in fact it tantamounts to incentivising breaking of rules besides compromising on building safety. All logic against allowing breach of rules will cut no ice with politicians who lord over the bureaucracy, the custodians of statute/rule books.Election time is the best period to pluck the fruits of short-circuiting governance.
Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula
No place for selfish acts
A modern city such as Chandigarh should not be destroyed by regularising unplanned structures, something that the MC started doing the moment it came into existence. Cases of building violations are increasing with the support of politicians due to vote banks. Democracy does not give special power to anyone to spoil the beauty of a city because of their selfishness. Needs and baseless desires cannot be fulfilled. Violations should be stopped by the administration. Politicians should not be supported and helped by bureaucrats in such cases, which should be dealt with strictly. Elected MC members should understand their duties towards the beautiful city and try to ensure it stays this way.
Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, Mohali
Litigation won’t help
Democratically, all laws, especially those related to buildings, should cater for changes with the passage of time. Therefore, building laws made by the UT administration at the time of Le Corbusier need to be updated. Dealing with those violating building laws can lead to long drawn court cases, which are a waste of time and money. Chandigarh has now allowed open space utilisation rules and other structural changes. It will be thoughtful if one time regularisation policy is considered to rehabilitate the colonies. This will check the huge expense of filing cases in courts.
Capt Amar Jeet Kumar, Mohali
No pressure on officials
All violations should be penalised, even demolished. Enforcement agencies need to act strictly and UT adviser Manoj Parida should ensure that the officials do not face political pressures to bring the guilty to book. The enforcement wing should continue this activity with zeal, and ensure that Mohali and Chandigarh become smart cities and not encroached upon urban villages. I fail to understand why the MC is being lenient on violators. Allottees in lower income houses have added multiple floors, extended balconies and cantilevers for conversion to rooms, which causes stress on the structural stability of the original structures. The governments are trying to legalise encroachments on public land, only for vote-banks, showing total disregard for the laws that are in force today. There needs to be a zero tolerance policy to such acts.
Rajiv Boolchand Jain, Zirakpur
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