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Push for uniform building policy

June 8: Dispur is pushing for a uniform building policy to check unregulated growth on the outskirts of the capital.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has issued directions for the policy during a meeting with representatives of agencies entrusted with planning and development of the city, which has seen its population swell to around 9.6 lakh according to the 2011 census from 8.1 lakh in 2001. Unofficially, the population is over 14 lakh, including the floating population of three lakh.

Officials from Guwahati development, panchayat and rural development and urban development departments and Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) as well as deputy commissioners of Kamrup and Kamrup (metro) have been asked to come up with a uniform building policy at the meeting last month.

The step has been necessitated following complaints about the haphazard growth outside city limits, especially in areas like Palashbari, Azara, Chaygaon, Mirza, Sonapur and Jorabat. Since these areas do not fall under Guwahati Municipal Corporation or GMDA, construction in these areas are controlled by panchayat bodies, which do not have the expertise to deal with a rapidly developing city.

“Since the city is spreading fast, there has been a lot of unchecked development by builders and individuals exploiting the lax guidelines. Therefore, there is a need for a uniform policy before it is too late. The building bylaws will be made applicable to areas outside the city, irrespective of whoever issues the order. Panchayat bodies, too, should follow similar guidelines,” an official said.

Sources said officials had even mooted expansion of city area to at least 1,000 square km from the present 264 square km for structured growth. “We need a master plan with new areas and more satellite towns with proper planning and facilities. There cannot be ad-hoc steps,” another official said.

The move for uniform bylaws follows an inspection trip by Gogoi along with GMDA chairperson Robin Bordoloi, to take stock of construction in the city.

Gogoi, who is also the Guwahati development department (GDD) minister, had publicly expressed his displeasure over unscientific construction on hilltops, even leading to the arrest of a construction firm official, who has since been released.