The impending notification of the proposed Karnataka Akrama-Sakrama Rules for regularising unauthorised developments -2013 (Karnataka Town & Planning) “is disturbing,” says D. Ajitha Simha, (retd) Deputy Director General, BIS & former Consultant to UN on Building Code

I had a lot to do in preparing the National Building Code, 1970 and 1983 versions in my capacity as Director-Civil Engg., Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi. I had the chance to revise Bangalore’s building byelaws in 1976 based on the National Building Code of India (1970) published thereafter as an official version. I also had the chance to revise the building bylaws of 20 municipal corporations including Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram. The NBC is a scientific document and rules regarding the setback, height, FAR etc., have been incorporated into the BBMP byelaws.

The NBC is prepared by over three hundred professionals drawn from all over India, including town planners, architects, engineers and above all with active participation of Chief Engineers of municipal corporations of Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and so on. Thus it has the weight of consensus of all the concerned professionals and administrators in the country.

Hence it is sad to see all the scientific work overturned in one stroke by the new Akrama-Sakrama rules; and that too for the entire State of Karnataka. Extending the regularisation to commercial buildings in addition to residential buildings paves the way for authorising new slums with built-in fire hazard.

The basic issues which are seen violated in the above rules are:

* Setback - The technical purpose of setbacks is to ensure light and ventilation for all occupancies, otherwise any relaxation is a health hazard. The front setback should never be relaxed because this permits widening the road at a future date. For this purpose, the owner is compensated by additional FAR only for such sites. This is now in vogue in Bangalore.

* Floor Area Ratio - The concept of FAR is completely scientific which covers height and area limitations for a building facing a street of a particular width, depending essentially on parameters such as fire safety, availability of water supply, drainage, sewerage, road width, and electric supply. Any relaxation of FAR is completely arbitrary and against all norms of development as envisaged in the Master Plans of urban areas. Besides, it results in fire hazards, particularly to commercial buildings and other high-rises. Why are Government notifications inviting disaster? As it is all urban areas have insufficient infrastructure and therefore any relaxation would put immense pressure on the utilities such as water supply and electric supply. This is because increased FAR automatically increases the population density for that area with a consequent demand for these services.

* Approval of building plans - Normal approval of building plans by the civic body generally implies a slight variation up to about five per cent because of errors in measurement during construction. This point has also been emphasised by the Supreme Court in the matter of relaxation of building bylaws. But the proposed relaxations of 25 to 50 per cent and that too by law is outrageous.