Amend­ments to Haryana build­ing code draw criticism

Stake­hold­ers ex­press con­cern about fre­quent changes made in the code, al­low­ing more norm con­ces­sions to builders con­struct­ing in­de­pen­dent floors

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Mu­niesh­wer A Sa­gar mu­niesh­wer.sa­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

CHANDIGARH: With lat­est Haryana Build­ing Code al­low­ing a num­ber of re­lax­ations like in­creased floor area ra­tio (FAR), stilt park­ing, and in­creased num­ber of floors in the plot­ted de­vel­op­ments, the seg­ment has grown fast in the last cou­ple of years.

Gu­ru­gram leads the way, with Panchkula also catch­ing up with the trend.

Vivek Sharma, a Panchku­la­based builder, says, “In Panchkula, com­mer­cial as­pect of the seg­ment is still to grow. Many fam­i­lies are opt­ing for in­de­pen­dent floors after the re­cent changes were made in the build­ing code.”

“Most of the growth is tak­ing place in Gu­ru­gram with many builders un­der­tak­ing con­struc­tions if gov­ern­ment al­lows regis­tra­tion of the fourth floor, this will fur­ther boost growth in the seg­ment,” says Gul­shan Bhutani, a Gu­ru­gram-based builder.

CHANGES - DILUTIONS OR RE­LAX­ATIONS?

The con­tin­u­ous changes be­ing made in the Haryana Build­ing Code, par­tic­u­larly, in re­gard to the floor-wise con­struc­tion and sell­ing of plot­ted prop­er­ties is rais­ing se­vere con­cern among dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing ar­chi­tects and res­i­dents, about their safety, im­pact on in­fras­truc­ture and over­all qual­ity of life.

While the ear­lier build­ing codes in the state sus­tained for long with­out reg­is­ter­ing ma­jor changes, the Haryana Build­ing Code 2016, within a year of its no­ti­fi­ca­tion, was changed re­peat­edly.

“There was a dras­tic change in the Haryana Build­ing Code 2016 rules in which FAR was in­creased to 198% (1.98) — 66% on each floor. Stilt park­ing was al­lowed and to­tal height was in­creased to 15m,” says Jy­oti Chau­fla, a Panchkula-based ar­chi­tect.

The Haryana Build­ing Code2017 was also amended to re­lax norms re­gard­ing floors. A cru­cial change was made in the Haryana Build­ing Code-2017. It is men­tioned in the Haryana build­ing code 2017 that “(g + 3 floor)” and “stilt (s + 4 floor)” while max­i­mum height is fixed at 15m, with or with­out stilt park­ing in old and new houses. “This can be life-threat­en­ing, es­pe­cially in the ex­ist­ing and ad­join­ing houses, as foun­da­tions are built to sup­port only up to 2.5/3 floors and adding an­other floor will lead to col­lapse of the struc­ture. No prac­tis­ing ar­chi­tects or civil engi­neers were con­sulted while amend­ing these rules,” says Chau­fla.

These changes are be­ing ex­ploited by builders and prop­erty deal­ers, “who are buy­ing roofs of the first floor to con­struct se­cond floor, which is 20% of plot price, with the in­ten­tion of build­ing two floors, thereby de­fraud­ing ground floor and first floor own­ers by in­fring­ing upon their right of in­creas­ing FAR to 66% on their re­spec­tive floors and en­dan­ger­ing their lives as well as lives of neigh­bours,” adds Chau­fla.

The lat­est rules say the stair­case is counted only on the ground floor and treated as free area on up­per floors.

“Per­haps it was done for the ben­e­fit of builders who make multi-storeyed flats so that they could use this ad­di­tional area to make more flats by mis­us­ing the stairs-area/lift-area. But im­pos­ing this same rule on in­di­vid­ual houses will wreak un­nec­es­sary havoc on so­ci­ety. As a re­sult, even after cov­er­ing the same area on each floor (ground floor/first floor/se­cond floor) that is, 66% own­ers are left with FAR (be­cause of the false ben­e­fit of the stair/lift area), thereby, di­rectly en­cour­ag­ing all own­ers and builders to use this area on the third floor,” ar­gued Chau­fla.

REGIS­TRA­TION OF FOURTH FLOOR

The re­cent dec­la­ra­tion of chief min­is­ter Manohar Lal Khat­tar re­gard­ing al­low­ing regis­tra­tion of the fourth floor as an in­de­pen­dent unit has fur­ther added to the con­cern.

Pu­nit Sethi, chair­man, In­dian In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects - Haryana chap­ter, says, “As per the master plan, there should be 2.5 dwelling units per plot and 12.5 per­sons per plot. All in­fras­truc­ture plan­ning and pro­vi­sion­ing of ba­sic ameni­ties like sewage, drink­ing wa­ter, green ar­eas etc, have been done as per these den­sity norms in all sec­tors across the state.”

Cur­rently, the fourth floor is not be­ing reg­is­tered as an in­de­pen­dent floor and can be a part of the third floor as du­plex.

“But, if the dec­la­ra­tion by the CM is turned into a no­ti­fi­ca­tion as ex­pected, then the dwelling units will in­crease to four from the cur­rent 2.5, which means den­sity will in­crease by 1.6 times. This means that when oc­cu­pancy in a sec­tor reaches 62%, even then the in­fras­truc­ture will come un­der im­mense pres­sure. As the oc­cu­pancy in­creases fur­ther, in­fras­truc­ture might even col­lapse,” says Sethi.

BEYOND GU­RU­GRAM AND PANCHKULA

Most of the in­de­pen­dent floors are com­ing up in Gu­ru­gram, where land prices are rel­a­tively high and builders try to ex­ploit ev­ery piece of realty space for prof­its. “By di­lut­ing build­ing norms for in­de­pen­dent floors, the gov­ern­ment may in­ad­ver­tently en­cour­age builders to con- struct il­le­gal con­struc­tions by fur­ther stretch­ing the builder rules,” says Sethi.

Ar­chi­tects ex­pect that while cur­rently Gu­ru­gram and Panchkula might be the ma­jor hubs of floor con­struc­tion and sell­ing, but in the longer run, dilutions in the build­ing code will spread to other cities of the state as land be­comes more ex­pen­sive as hous­ing de­mand in­creases. “Cur­rently, the state has no such land pres­sure so as to ne­ces­si­tate such ma­jor dilution in the build­ing norms,” said Sethi.

Even res­i­dents are ex­press­ing con­cern about these changes. “There are dis­cus­sions go­ing on be­tween dif­fer­ent cit­i­zens group as to what ac­tion should be taken. Re­gard­ing the re­cent state­ment of the chief min­is­ter re­gard­ing the regis­tra­tion of the fourth floor, we are wait­ing for the no­ti­fi­ca­tion,” says RS Rathee, pres­i­dent, Gu­ru­gaon Cit­i­zens So­ci­ety.

Ar­chi­tects and cit­i­zen groups have met gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and raised the is­sue with de­part­ments con­cerned.

“We are try­ing to con­vey to the state ad­min­is­tra­tion the ur­ban chaos these changes in the build­ing norms that can cre­ate. There are se­ri­ous se­cu­rity con­cerns also. In the smaller plots and older con­struc­tions hav­ing load bear­ing struc­tures and not frame struc­ture, ad­di­tional two in­de­pen­dent floors can cre­ate se­ri­ous struc­tural flaws. This may pose as dan­ger to peo­ple’ life and se­cu­rity if and when an earth­quake strikes the area,” cau­tions Sethi.

Some ar­chi­tects fear that the dilution in Haryana build­ing rules might set a bad prece­dent for cities like Chandigarh.

“Such dilution of build­ing rules is not at all war­ranted. There is lot of pres­sure on the UT ad­min­is­tra­tion to al­low for such build­ing norm re­lax­ation in Chandigarh also, and the Haryana ex­am­ple will be used to fur­ther such a cause,” says Surinder Bahga, a Chandi­garhbased ar­chi­tect.

There is a need for re-eval­u­at­ing the re­cent changes made in the build­ing code, say ex­perts. Ar­chi­tect Renu Se­h­gal, for­mer chief ar­chi­tect, Chandigarh, says, “The cur­rent piece­meal ap­proach to the build­ing norms should be re-ex­am­ined. All as­pects of changes, struc­tural se­cu­rity and over­all im­pact on in­fras­truc­ture needs to be an­a­lysed be­fore any changes are made to the build­ing codes.”

SANT ARORA/HT

The lat­est rules say the stair­case is counted only on the ground floor and treated as free area on up­per floors.

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