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Dispur dilutes demolitions

Guwahati, July 22: Dispur has toned down its stand on demolition of illegal structures, deciding to take a “humane approach” to the ongoing demolition drive. Private residences as well as commercial buildings, which have not flouted norms to a major extent, have been virtually exempted.

The government is now going to ask violators of norms to make voluntary disclosures before these buildings are regularised.

Rajya Sabha MP Dwijen Sarma disclosed this to The Telegraph over telephone from New Delhi. He had yesterday met chief minister Tarun Gogoi to discuss Guwahati’s planned growth as well as request the government to consider “all humanitarian aspects” vis-'-vis the demolition of residential buildings. Guwahati development minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was also present during the discussions.

Supporting the government’s move to take genuine violators to task, the MP said during his one-and-a-half-hour-long discussion with Gogoi and Himanta Biswa Sarma, he impressed upon them the need to spare private residences and flats from the demolition drive as this had sparked a fear psychosis. Following the drive, realtors are afraid that they will go out of business.

“There might have been violations which individual owners may not be aware of. I suggested we should instead ask the violators to make voluntary disclosures before these buildings are regularised. The chief minister gave us an assurance that individual residences and flats, mostly owned by middle-class families, would not be touched. Even the Guwahati development minister was sympathetic to the concerns of the common people,” Dwijen Sarma said. He pointed out that fines, if imposed on violators, could be ploughed back into the city’s development.

The Rajya Sabha MP said there are other ways for developing the city. “If there are major violations, these should definitely be targeted. Our government’s aim is to develop and make Guwahati beautiful. I have suggested the need to initiate steps to preserve our wetlands, go in for an afforestation drive, construct alternative routes to ease traffic snarls and create multi-storeyed parking lots. I have also suggested that emphasis should be on implementing the rules from now on and focus should be on developing the city’s outskirts, such as Sonapur, Rani and Mirza,” he said.

Sources in Gogoi’s office said so far, more than 100 buildings with anomalies have suffered at least partial demolition. However, the emotional trauma and economic fallout have forced Dispur to re-examine the entire drive. “Dispur’s aim was to convey that it means business. But major and wilful violators, particularly in commercial establishments, won’t be spared even now,” a source said.

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