Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Friday batted for strict building norms to prevent the city from becoming a concrete jungle, much to the discomfiture of builders.
In his maiden address to the builders’ fraternity since the chaos in real estate sector started in May, Nitish seemed firm on wider roads and reduced floor area ratio (FAR) as prescribed in the draft of the maiden building bye-laws of the state. Realtors, in sharp contrast, flayed the proposed strict norms.
Speaking at the meeting of the fourth managing committee and third general council of Builders’ Association of India (BAI) in Patna, Nitish claimed that the city was on the verge of turning into a concrete jungle because of unregulated real estate activities.
“Unprecedented construction activities in Patna over the past few years have made the real estate sector an important contributor to gross state domestic product (GSDP), but much of them has been done in unregulated manner. Buildings were being constructed arbitrarily with no roads, drainage or water supply. No one wants to leave even a single inch around (the periphery of) their houses for constructing roads (or other public utilities). If things would have continued like that, the city would have turned into a concrete jungle soon,” said Nitish.
The proposed bye-laws released by state urban development and housing department last Saturday prohibit any new construction along roads less than 20ft wide (6m). No multi-storeyed structure would be permitted on plots less than 800sqm.
Addressing the builders’ body on the perils of “unregulated” building construction, Nitish said: “If you construct buildings but fire tenders cannot reach them in case of emergency because of narrow roads, what would be the use of it? There are numerous vicinities in Patna, where such conditions prevail. Similarly, disaster would happen in case an earthquake hits the city. We want to ensure that houses are made in such a way that ambulances can reach there.”
In a bid to ensure smooth access of fire tender and ambulance and other important provisions for the buildings, the draft of Bihar Municipal Building Bye-laws state that the minimum width of approach road to a plot should be around 30ft (9m) for non-high-rise (G+3 and below) buildings and 40ft (12m) for high-rise apartments (G+4 and above).
Though Nitish dropped enough hint at supporting the proposed building bye-laws, builders were disappointed with the norms. “Bihar is one of the few states that have come with new building bye-laws based on the National Building Code, 2005. Though the provisions of the proposed building bye-laws aim at regulated construction activities, I would like to ask what type of regulation would be there if no new building comes up in the city. We shall soon give our views on the bye-laws. We expect that the state government would give our thoughts due consideration,” said Manikant, the national vice-president of BAI.
Developments at the investors’ meet on “Real estate and infrastructure”, called by the chief minister on December 30, would be crucial for the future of the real estate sector in the city and the state vis-à-vis the draft building bye-laws running 130 pages. It is available on the website of the urban development and housing department (www.urban.bih.nic.in) and its citizen grievance redressal website (www.nagarseva.in). Residents can give their feedback till December 30.
Look beyond capital
Nitish made an appeal to the developers to focus on development in other cities as well. “There has been a tendency that everyone wants to build their houses in Patna but we would like to urge developers to do cluster housing development or private township development in other cities like Bhagalpur, Gaya, Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga among others. This would be beneficial to the builders as well, as they would be getting more return because of comparatively low land cost in those regions.”