Civic body releases names of officials who had issued permits to buildings that violated laws

Blaming the builders squarely for flouting the building laws, Kochi Corporation has given a clean chit to its officials in most of the cases. A large number of violations were unearthed by the Vigilance Wing of the Senior Town Planner’s (STP) Office.

The corporation has also released the names of 21 officials who had issued permits in cases identified by the STP officials after much persuasion by the Local Administration Department. The names were sought for initiating legal action against the erring officials. The list contains the names of a former corporation secretary, corporation engineer, town planning officer, assistant executive engineer and building inspectors among others.

In as many as 10 cases, the corporation defended its actions and claimed that its officials cannot be held responsible for the violations. However, in a few cases where it had issued notices to the builders for violations, the corporation has abstained from stating that it was not responsible for the violations.

While discounting the findings as baseless in some cases, the corporation also stated that it had issued notices to builders in some cases for regularising the violations.

In its state-wide drive carried out last year, the STP had identified 34 cases in Kochi, including the violation of the Kerala Municipal Building Rules, deviations in front, side and rear yards of buildings and violations in setback area from roads. The agency had also detected violations of Floor Area Ratio and coverage, guidelines of town planning schemes and additional constructions/floors without permit in Kochi.

In the case of a commercial building constructed by the Procurator, Arch Bishops’ House Ernakulam, (Permit no KRP2\556\07.DT.27\3\08), the parking space proposed in the basement floor did not satisfy the building rule provisions. The Floor Area Ratio of the building exceeded the permissible limit as per the area provided in the approved plan, it was reported. The report also stated that the number of vehicles as indicated in the plan could not be parked in the basement floor and scooter parking space was not provided in the approved plan. Moreover, loading/unloading space as mandated by rules was not proposed in the approved plan.

Admitting the findings of the STP as true, the Kochi Corporation said it had issued notice to the builder for rectifying the defects. It also stated that its officials cannot be blamed for the violations.

In another case, (Permit no: MoP1/93/09 dt 3/6/09), the corporation has even tried to dilute the findings of the vigilance officials. The STP, in its report, had pointed out that the parking area proposed in the building was converted into shop area and the construction was carried out by deviating from the approved plan.

The corporation, while admitting that it had allowed fixing of rolling shutters in the front portion of the parking area, maintained that the area could still be used for parking purposes. While blaming the builder for violating the approved plan, the corporation maintained that it had issued notice against the illegal construction.

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