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Mayor’s storey sop for legal houses

Forced on the backfoot by the popular backlash to his move to legitimise nearly 300,000 illegal structures in the city, mayor Subrata Mukherjee has come up with a rapprochement formula to appease the scrupulous.

The mayor will reward “law-abiding” house-owners by allowing them to build extra floors on existing structures. For this, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s (CMC) amnesty scheme for illegal constructions will be recast.

In the new proposal, owners of illegally-constructed buildings or apartments will be allowed to regularise their structures after coughing up the requisite sanction fees, along with about 10 per cent of the actual penalty. At the same time, house-owners who had left the mandatory open space at the time of construction, will be allowed to add extra storeys to their existing structures, equivalent to the area of the open space.

“But under no circumstances will they be allowed to cover the open space,” stressed Mukherjee. For the extra storeys, they will have to submit construction plans, along with the certificate of structural fitness, and cough up sanction fees to the civic body.

“There is nothing wrong in allowing extra floors over existing structures by relaxing civic rules, as the provision of floating floor area ratio (FAR) is already there in the building rules in respect of preservation of heritage structures,” pointed out CMC’s director-general (building) Ashok Roychaudhury.

Since a heritage structure cannot be demolished and rebuilt, owners of these buildings often feel financially deprived. Under the floating FAR concept, the owner of a heritage building is eligible to get the extra floor area it could have generated if reconstruction was allowed.

The mayor’s controversial amnesty scheme for the law-breakers had come under fire and critics argued that it would be grave injustice to those who had built houses, leaving about 50 per cent of their plots vacant as mandatory open space, in accordance with building rules.

On the other hand, those who had constructed illegally and for whom the mayor had offered the amnesty scheme, had derived double benefit, without paying a dime to the civic coffers.

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