Patna, Dec. 15: Cashing in on the civic body’s helplessness to act against building rule violators because of man crunch, apartment builders and buyers are flouting norms at will without any fear.
Commercial establishments in parking lots and unauthorised constructions violating the approved map are common in the city. Complaints to the civic body hardly make any difference. For, Patna Municipal Corporation’s (PMC’s) planning department, empowered to take action against the defaulters, cites helplessness to act because of severe man crunch.
Residents of Gayatri Kunj Apartments at Nehru Nagar complained to the corporation about an additional floor added to it during the construction six year ago, violating the permissible floor area ratio (FAR). But the civic body is yet to act on it.
(FAR is the ratio of the total floor area of a building and the size of the land. If the FAR of a certain locality is 2.5, the maximum floor area of buildings there can be two-and-a-half times the area of the plot on which it is constructed.)
Meenakshi Sharan, a resident of the apartment, said: “We were told at the time of purchase that the building will have four floors. But the builders added an extra floor. There has never been any inspection by PMC or any other government agency since it was constructed six years ago.”
A civic body official acknowledged receiving the complaint about the additional floor at Gayatri Kunj Apartments. He also admitted that no action had been taken yet.
Residents of Gayatri Kunj Apartments are not the only one whose complaint against building rule violation has gone unheard. The civic body did not act on hundreds of other grievances citing man crunch.
Admitting that the PMC receives several complaints on building norm violation every year, Vijay Kumar, director, urban planning, PMC, said: “It becomes very difficult to bring the defaulters to book individually because of acute shortage of manpower in the corporation.” Echoing Kumar, PMC commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pal said: “We have several pending cases against apartment complexes. But we have not been able to take action against them as we are struggling with manpower shortage in the engineering section.”
Despite citing helplessness to act against rule violators, Kumar said: “Running business establishments in basements or parking lots is completely illegal.”
In sharp contrast, shops and clinics are thriving in basements and parking areas of several apartments. Shops have mushroomed on the ground floor of Sachi Complex in the Boring Road area. Saket Chaudhary, a resident, said: “The apartment building was meant to be purely a residential complex. But the entire ground floor is now being used for commercial purposes.”
At Pranjal Apartments on the Boring Canal Road, there are doctors’ clinics in the parking lot. Nobody from the PMC ever inspected them.
Rajesh Kumar, a resident of the apartment, said: “Over 60 per cent of the total parking area has been converted into clinics. Buyers themselves are responsible for that.”
Mohnish Sharma, a resident of an apartment complex on Boring Canal Road, shared a similar problem with The Telegraph. “Builders have constructed clinics of doctors in more than half of the parking space. We are forced to park our vehicles on the road, as there is no space inside. This is grossly illegal. We have complained to PMC authorities several times but no action has been taken yet,” he said.
Besides constructing illegal commercial establishments, builders often tinker with setback area. Shyamak Bhadoria, a resident of Rajendra Nagar, said: “In some cases, apartments are built in areas where roads are too narrow and the setback area is too little.”
Admitting that building rules were flouted at random, Sachin Chandra, the president of Builders’ Association of India, Bihar chapter, said: “We advise builders to stick to norms. But we cannot ensure that because we do not have coercive powers. In many cases, buyers too are at fault. They buy parking space and use it for unauthorised purposes.”