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Building Violations Thrive in Trichy, Thanks to Lax Civic Officials

Lack of teeth in the town planning act is cited as reason by the civic body officials in not being able to act decisively.

The City Corporation discovered that 264 buildings in Srirangam were constructed in violation of norms between 2012-2015. But there was nothing to fear for these violators as not a single building was sealed or demolished by the civic body, reveals information obtained through RTI. Even in one exceptional case where a multi-storey building was sealed near Srirangam temple, it was HR & CE department which served notice following which action was initiated.

Lack of teeth in the town planning act is cited as reason by the civic body officials in not being able to act decisively. However, observers blame it on the lack of will of the civic body to crack the whip on violators.

“We cannot demolish a building because it was constructed contrary to norms,” corporation assistant executive engineer P Sivapatham said adding that they could only serve notice to the violator to reply within 30 days or impose a fine at the most.

Notice is issued to the concerned owner by civic body on deviation of building plan and time given to make changes in the building. Rs 1,000 is imposed as fine for the violators for not carrying the changes which would increase for subsequent delay followed by a judicial case for not adhering to the norms. In all, at least Rs 50,000 is collected as fine a month from the violators of building plan from all over the city which includes Srirangam.

However, retired deputy collector and resident of Sriangam R Govindaraju who filed the RTI to obtained details says that “Sec.296 Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971 empowers the officials to issue notices to the buildings with violations/deviations or unauthorised constructions and demolish them. Rules and regulations are effective and stringent for taking action against violators. But unauthorised constructions are deliberately ignored to avoid embarrassment to the department.” Moreover, the Commissioner of Trichy City Corporation was empowered to take action against the violations/deviations/unauthorized constructions as per Section 56, 57 in pursuance of G.O.289 Housing and Urban Development (UD4-1) dated 16.12.2010 and as per the resolution of Trichy Local Planning Authority Resolution No.6 dated 14.02.2011, he says.

Highlighting the data obtained from civic body, Govindaraju said that the “number of unauthorized constructions had come down to 47 in 2015 from 137 in 2014. While the reality is other way around as unauthorized constructions are not being booked to avoid embarrassment to the department.”

It is mandatory to keep the buildings below the height of 9 metres around 1 km radius of the Srirangam temple that is not exceeding two floors (G+2). But we can see various buildings above the permissible height mushrooming in recent time in the close vicinity of the 237 feet tall Rajagopuram (the royal temple tower).

“There are commercial buildings as tall as over 20 metres within the 1 km radius of the temple which were only noticed in recent years,” says another resident from Srirangam C Rangarjan.

Status quo has been maintained on the existing buildings exceeding the permissible height where no further construction of buildings has been allowed beyond the permissible limit from about four years ago. But in reality the violations have increased as corporation officials are being bribed by the building owners to escape action, he said.

“Property tax is not imposed on the building unless the building adheres to all norms. To avoid the issue getting dragged on and robbing the corporation of revenue in terms of property tax, often the officials ignore deviations and put tax on the buildings unless it is gross violation and the matter is settled,” says a senior official from the city corporation.

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