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Blacklist whip on architects
Move to restrict illegal buildings

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 9: The hammer has fallen on illegal buildings, now it’s the turn of “errant” architects to be blacklisted.

To restrict the construction of illegal structures, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority has decided to crack the whip on empanelled architects who are associated with the planning and designing of such buildings.

This was decided after officials found that a building, which was taken up for demolition in Ashok Nagar two weeks ago, violated regulations and norms under the Odisha Development Authority Act, 1982.

“We have decided to blacklist the architects from our empanelled list for designing structures encroaching upon government land, drainage channels and roads. In the case of Ashok Nagar, the enforcement wing has written to the planning wing and we are going to take action shortly,’’ said vice-chairman of the development authority Vishal Kumar Dev.

Dev said they would also write to the Council of Architects, New Delhi, regarding the wrongdoings of its members.

The move has, however, angered the Indian Institution of Architects, Odisha chapter.

Chairman of the architects’ body Sanjeeb Kumar Guru said: “Blacklisting an empanelled architect is not the right thing to do. Technically an architect is not professionally qualified to judge the land status, but the person is hired only for the design part. On the other hand, the development authority has a land section. Officials of the section go and inspect the land and the planning wing gives approval on the basis of their report.’’

Guru slammed the development authorities for trying to find a scapegoat in the architects.

Guru said: “Once an architect is registered with the Council of Architects, New Delhi, he can work independently and technically no other organisation can blacklist him or delete his name from the empanelled list.’’

The land status has to be judged by an advocate, he said.

A senior architect on the condition of anonymity, however, said: “If architects are doing something wrong and it is against law, then action should be taken against them.’’

Sources in the development body said a real-estate developer in Dumduma has developed an entire site on a government land and started marketing the flats. The apartment block is on the target list of the development authorities for demolition and at present there are 32 such illegal structures across the city.

The housing and urban development department has asked the development authorities to target large-scale violators and not petty offenders.

The development body is likely to resume its demolition drive against major violators after the Assembly session.

While the development authority is struggling to raze the illegal structures with its limited resources and manpower, an internal report has revealed that some officials of the engineering and planning wing were also involved in the nexus and they tried to stop the demolition process in the past.

“I have ordered an inquiry into these charges and actions will definitely be taken against the erring officials for their misconduct,’’ said Dev.