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Collectors may get more powers

N.J. Nair

The process of granting zonal exemption for building construction should be delegated to the District Collectors and applications should be cleared by the District Collectors within 45 days. Granting zonal exemption for construction activity

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Government is considering a proposal to delegate powers to District Collectors for granting zonal exemption for building construction and to dispose of applications seeking exemption within 45 days.

Official sources told The Hindu that considering the inconvenience caused to the public and the hurdles thrown up in planning and development activities, the Local Administration Ministry had entrusted the Chief Town Planner (CTP), Eapen Varghese, to give suggestions on expediting the process of clearing applications.

In his draft report to the Local Administration Secretary, Mr. Varghese is learnt to have recommended decentralising of the process of granting exemptions to overcome delay.

Thousands of applications reach the CTP office from places where there is an approved master plan or town planning schemes. Since the CTP has to dedicate more time to dispose of the applications, its main task of planning and development activities suffered, sources said.

Zonal exemptions are sought by those constructing commercial and residential buildings. The majority of such applicants are those who avail themselves of housing loans. At present, the District Town Planners (DTPs) forward such applications to the CTP with a report; the CTP, with hardly any changes, sends it to the Government for final decision. But most of the applications remain at the CTP office, sources said.

Residential buildings

The CTP is learnt to have suggested that applications for residential buildings with a plinth area of 200 sq.m. and commercial complexes with 100-sq.m. plinth area should be submitted to the District Collectors instead of the Government and that they should hand them over to DTPs for detailed report. If the DTPs forward their reports to the District Collectors, they can take decisions on the merit of each case and the applications can be disposed of soon.

If an application is rejected by a Corporation, Municipality or Panchayat, the appeal petition should be submitted along with the rejection memo, site verification certificate and three copies of the building plan. DTPs should inspect the site and send a report to the District Collector.

The DTP should not recommend zonal exemption if there is a road development, park and open space, transport terminals or if it is a hazardous area. Exemption should be granted in a heritage zone only on the basis of the CTP's recommendation. Kerala Land Utilisation and CRZ norms should be strictly observed.

It has been suggested that DTPs, while granting exemption, should exercise restraint in areas where there is an approved town planning project. If a large tract of land is developed into different housing plots, zonal exemption for one plot can be given only after approving the layout. Plots violating the Kerala Municipal Building Rules should not be recommended for even conditional exemption, sources said.

Specific reasons should be stated for granting exemption and for commercial buildings, it has to be ensured that the exemption does not cause any problems to structures nearby. If the DTP cannot give a clear recommendation, the CTP's advice should be sought.

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