Millennium Post (Kolkata)

‘Deviation from building laws increased illegal constructi­ons’


In the wake of the under-constructi­on building collapse at Garden Reach area killing 12 persons, the Bengal chapter of the Institute of Town Planners, India (ITPI) has accused the state administra­tion, especially Kolkata Municipal Corporatio­n (KMC), of “gross and arbitrary deviation” from constructi­on norms under building laws.

On Tuesday, while addressing a Press conference, Dipankar Sinha, a council member of ITPI’s state chapter and a former director general (Town Planning) of KMC told the media that rampant illegal constructi­ons, such as the one in Garden Reach, is a direct result of arbitrary administra­tive circulars authorisin­g additional constructi­on of houses outside the norms. “Excess constructi­ons beyond the permissive limit of built-up areas, partially or completely, cannot be regulated under any circumstan­ces under the law,” he said.

Noting how KMC’s Building

department engineers were blamed for the collapse of the illegal structure in Garden Reach, he said: “Modificati­on of rules by department­al circulars are beyond the ambit of any officer of the local authoritie­s Such circulars have created hesitation­s among lower-level employees in taking strong actions against illegal constructi­ons,” he pointed out.

Further, it was pointed out that as per rule, every city, including Kolkata is supposed to have an ITPI representa­tive in the Municipal Building Committee that is constitute­d for approval of constructi­on of houses as per building laws. However, the KMC allegedly did not appoint any ITPI members for long while the post of Chief Municipal Architect and

Town Planner at KMC has been vacant since 2014. “We recommende­d names of experience­d senior planners who can voluntaril­y assist the KMC to prepare the building rules of the city in a scientific and environmen­t friendly manner but the proposals were ignored. We wrote to the Municipal Commission­er on the same,” Sinha said, and added: “Proposals for preparing a report by us on the impact of the laws concerning the 3500 dangerous buildings in the city and its residents were also ignored.”

The ITPI’s state chapter made several proposals for considerat­ions which include that Land Use and Developmen­t Control Plan (LUDCP) should be prepared scientific­ally in compliance with the Town Planning Act and noncomplia­nce with it should be recognised as cognisable offence in sanctionin­g constructi­on. It also said that the appointmen­t of sufficient educated, experience­d and registered urban planners, architects should be made mandatory.

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