The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Amnesty to legalise houses
- Sanction without penalty for three months from July

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) will offer a one-time penalty exemption to owners of illegal buildings and flats for regularising the properties.

Those who fail to take up the offer will face the usual punitive measures, such as snapping of water connections and sealing of drainage lines, mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya has decided.

The amnesty scheme will commence in July and continue for three months. During the period, owners of illegal buildings and flats can apply for post facto sanction of the properties.

The civic body will grant penalty exemption for buildings that haven't violated rules beyond the permissible limit, said municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay. The owners will have to pay sanction fee at the current rate for legal buildings.

'We will also launch an awareness campaign against illegal buildings. The advantages of a sanctioned structure over an illegal one will be widely publicised,' he added. 'A sanctioned building is the owner's pride' will be the theme of the campaign.

Director-general (building) of the civic body Gora Chand Mondol pointed out that under CMC Act, 1980, the civic body is not duty-bound to legalise illegal structures. The CMC can demolish them if it wants to.

To regularise an illegal structure, the owner currently needs to pay the sanction fee plus 2.5 times the amount as penalty. The sanction fee for residential buildings is about Rs 35 per sq ft. The figure is more than Rs 120 per sq ft for commercial buildings.

According to a civic estimate, there are about 200,000 illegally-constructed flats and residential and commercial buildings in the city. If even 10 per cent of them are regularised under the amnesty scheme, the CMC will rake in about Rs 100 crore as sanction fee.

From showrooms of foreign-made cars, shops and markets to ceremony houses and upmarket apartment blocks are housed in buildings, erected in violation of rules.

These structures are exerting an enormous pressure on the drainage and sewerage infrastructure of the city, the mayor has pointed out The civic water supply and conservancy departments are struggling to render adequate services.

Most of the illegal constructions are in Jadavpur, Behala, Garden Reach, Topsia, Tiljala, Kasba, Ekbalpore, Kidderpore, New Alipore, Rajabazar, Tollygunge and the colony areas.

Almost all the multi-storeyed buildings along the unmetalled roads near Tollygunge Girls' College and in the colony areas of New Alipore have come up illegally.

There are 50,000 three-cottah plots in the 250 colonies in the city. Illegal structures have come up on over 80 per cent of these plots, claimed Mondol.

A section of promoters, in association with leaders of the ruling party, are building illegal structures in the slums, said an assessment officer. The slums populated by non-Bengalis are the prime targets.

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