GUWAHATI, Oct 2 – In view of the proposed amendment to the building by-laws for Guwahati metropolitan area, the Assam Real Estate and Infrastructure Developers’ Association (AREIDA) has drawn the attention of the Minister for Guwahati Development Department to what, it said, were glaring loopholes left in the procedural part of the by-laws.
In a memorandum to the minister, the AREIDA said that the loopholes left scope for “malpractice to unscrupulous officials as well as for undue advantage to unscrupulous applicants.”
It, however, maintained that the technical part of the by-laws was sound and above question.
Citing examples of procedural loopholes, the AREIDA said that as per Clause 11 of the by-laws, inspection of the site was to be made within ten days following receipt of application for building permission, but it did not define the consequence of default by the inspecting engineer.
“On the ground, the engineer most often has to be bribed to inspect the site and put up his report, or else he simply refuses to move and may put off the inspection for an indefinite period,” it added.
Similarly, Clause 14 defines the time limit for sanction or refusal to within 60 days for normal buildings and 90 days for buildings requiring scrutiny by the high-rise committee. “This clause has been abused wantonly due to no penal or deeming provisions attached to it. Unscrupulous officials have held applicants to ransom by keeping applications pending for years. There must be a deeming provision, stating that after the said statutory period, the application is deemed to have been granted,” it said.
The AREIDA called for deterrent provisions spelling out the penal consequences of such violations of the by-laws and fixing of responsibility on the officials concerned.
Another discrepancy related to Clause 18 (d) states that no correspondence regarding building permission and land sale with the applicant will be served on their premises, but will be made available at the reception counter of the authority and the applicants are required to collect the same from the counter. This includes NOC and all objections letters relating to building permission and land sale.
“This indeed is among the biggest loopholes in the procedure. While all other correspondence is through a proper acceptable form of communication, the most vital issue of permission is left to the mercy of certain officials who are known to make life a living nightmare for an honest citizen,” it said.
Again, under Clause 5.3 (b), an owner of land applying for building permission is required to give an undertaking as fixed by the authority that he will surrender land free of cost for road widening and that if he violates and provisions of the by-laws or if there is any deviation from approved drawings, the authority shall be at liberty to demolish the building without any prior notice and at the owner’s cost.
“This gives scope to officials to convict a citizen even without any trial and is clearly unconstitutional,” it said.
On Clause 5.3 (h) dealing with GMDA permission required for land sale, the AREIDA said that if the provision had been honestly implemented, Guwahati would have been free of the menace of narrow roads.
“There must be strict mandatory inspection by the authorities on a regular basis to ensure that such violation of the Master Plan is strictly prohibited. Encroachment on roads is the most serious violation of the laws as it stunts the growth of a locality for generations to come,” it said.
The AREIDA also questioned the current amendment of the building by-laws based on a report and recommendations by the Ahmedabad-based Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology “as it was only an educational institute, and not a statutory body, and such may not have the technical and practical competence to supersede the recommendations these highly competent authorities.”