Wednesday, July 05, 2017

In absence of any action, illegal buildings mushroom in city

The Tribune: Bathinda: Wednesday, July 05, 2017.
The building branch of the Municipal Corporation Bathinda (MCB) is again under scanner for going soft against violations of building by-laws and illegal change of land use.
The regulatory and enforcement work of the building branch is confined to issuing notices for violations or at best composition of offences in a hush-hush manner, which is evident from proliferating illegal building activity in the city.
Against information sought through RTI Act over the number of notices issued to illegal buildings in the city during the last five years, the MCB has given incomplete information.
The office has given information pertaining to around 260 notices issued in the last five years from February 1, 2012 to April 30, 2017.
Nothing has been revealed about the action taken after issuing the notices.
It is also surprising that most of the 260 notices are sent under Sections 259, 260, 261 and 262 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act 1976.
In these notices, directions or warnings on demolishing the building have been given but hardly any building has been demolished.
However, a few months ago, officials of the building branch had tabled a report of 115 illegal buildings in the last two years from 2015 to 2017.
It has also come to the notice that various big hospitals, beer bars and showrooms have come up in the city without map approval or in violation of by-laws but no action has been taken by the building branch. 
There are many big hospitals that have not been issued a single notice, let alone taking action against them. 
The building branch has not been able to instill fear of law among those carrying out illegal construction of commercial complexes and making blatant violations of land use. 
Residents are also fed up with the building branch officials. Many complaints of corruption have also been lodged with higher officials but till date, no action has been taken against any official. 
Municipal Councillors Pardeep Gola and Sukhwinder Kaur said first the MC committed irregularities in issuing notices by terming some buildings illegal and sent notices of demolition, but later, it hardly took any such action. Leaders also claim that they fail to understand how illegal buildings come up under the ‘watchful’ eye of officials. They said they would raise the issue in the general house meeting over no action taken despite sending notices. 
In 2011, then BJP councillor late Krishan Garg had raised the issue of illegal buildings in the general house meeting after which a sub-committee was constituted. 
It had come out that 874 illegal buildings had come up from 2002 to 2011 but no action had ever been initiated by the MCB. At that time, an illegal building at Hanuman Chowk was demolished after getting approval from the general house but now, this building has again been constructed and an ice cream parlour is running here.
Mayor Balwant Rai Nath said they would take strict action against the illegal buildings in the city once the terms of the regularisation policy were clear.