The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Waiver offer to illegal homes

Forget building rules and just build. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee is there to save you. Drawing up a plan that is bound to draw flak, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is all set to legalise unauthorised constructions built in the city till December 31, 2001.

Mukherjee said owners or occupants of the 200,000-odd unauthorised constructions in the city will be able to legalise the structures by paying only 10 per cent of the stipulated penalty within three months of an “amnesty scheme” that the civic authorities will announce soon.

“Thereby, we will collect about Rs 100 crore. But, those who will not avail of this CMC offer within three months of the announcement will suffer,” warned Mukherjee. To deflect criticism, the mayor said he would legalise unauthorised constructions executed within December 31, 2001, meaning only those which came up during the Left Front rule at the CMC.

Senior civic officers say if the mayor implements his plan, law-abiding citizens will get a raw deal. Many people have constructed houses and apartments fully complying with the building rules securing only 50 per cent coverage of land area. The rest had to be set aside as mandatory open space.

“In contrast, the violators will get away with larger coverage of land area,” officers said. Under the “amnesty scheme,” as officials dub it, up to 90 per cent of the stipulated penalty on unauthorised construction will be waived. The scheme will remain valid for six months from the date of official announcement by the civic authorities. However, those availing of the scheme within the first three months will get the maximum penalty waiver. Those applying for the scheme in the fourth month will have to pay 50 per cent of the penalty. Fifth-month applicants will shell out 90 per cent of the penalty.

However, illegal constructions against which the CMC has already served notice or slapped cases pending in the court will not come under the purview of the scheme.

The draft of the plan describes it as “a strategic approach to regularise illegal buildings.” It says occupants of an unauthorised construction can jointly apply for legalising it, though the builder may have been a different person.

“But the occupant-applicants have to produce documents that they have purchased their portions following proper legal procedures,” officers said. They added that “amnesty-scheme” applicants will also have to submit a certificate on structural safety and stability of the building, duly signed by an empanelled CMC structural engineer.

The mayor said: “It is the ballot-conscious ruling party which allowed illegal structures to come up for their own interests.”

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