More than a lakh applications were submitted by owners of illegal plots State-wide under the Layout Regularisation Scheme (LRS) which continues to be open. Several of these plots were cleared by the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) concerned but unauthorised layouts with illegal buildings constructed on them within the Gram Panchayats (GPs) have become a headache for authorities.

Though GPs abutting Urban Development Authorities (UDAs) or ULBs have to obtain technical clearance from the planning departments concerned, it rarely happens. Same goes with GPs outside these urban bodies and falling under the jurisdiction of the Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP).

“It is a live issue. But we have no powers to either regulate or take action against illegal layouts or buildings as it comes under the Panchayat Secretaries' ambit,” says DTCP Director B. Purushothama Reddy. Fact is GPs have neither the expertise nor technical personnel to issue permissions. Their power is also limited to giving just ground plus one floor permissions.

Yet, untrammelled construction can be witnessed in several GPs, especially those in proximity to top cities like Hyderabad and Guntur as well as tier two cities like Nellore, Ongole, Nizamabad, etc., with many high rise buildings – residential apartments as well as malls coming up in such “villages”.

Cheating

There have also been cases where gullible citizens were cheated with double registrations done on their “illegal” plots and constructions allowed. Cases of GPs acting tough in such cases have been very few leaving victims the only option of approaching courts.

Alarmed municipal authorities are now requesting the government to take immediate steps to curb unauthorised layouts in GPs in coordination with the Panchayat Raj & Rural Development and Registration Departments.

Proposals include declaring unauthorised layouts as prohibited, ensure power, water and sewerage connections are not provided, and deny building permissions and levy vacant land tax at a high rate linking it with property tax.

Panchayat authorities themselves can punish an unauthorised developer with a fine or a daily fine in case of continuing offence; take up demolitions for unauthorised works in case of non-compliance, act tough against the technical personnel responsible even barring him from practice for up to five years and also act against the executing authority.

Awareness drive

“We have started taking up awareness programmes in all districts on land development. Indicative land use and existing land use plans are being prepared for all mandals and villages. We have requested Collectors to control unauthorised layouts and stop illegal constructions at the initial stage itself. We are also planning to take up surprise inspections,” said Mr. Reddy.

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