Public cautioned against fraudulent land transactions

Realtors have been selling plots of doubtful legal validity to unsuspecting buyers, authorities say.

The Local Planning Authority (LPA) has found that 759 unapproved layouts of residential plots had either been sold or are in the process of being sold in rural parts of the district.

Of these, 328 unapproved layouts were in localities under the jurisdiction of the LPA and the rest under the Regional Deputy Director of Town and Country Planning (RDDTCP). These violations came to light following an enquiry conducted with respect to residential plots in village panchayats. “There are chances of similar unapproved layouts in Melur and Usilampatti municipalities also, apart from the Corporation limits which had been expanded recently by annexing the nearby civic bodies,” Collector Anshul Mishra, who chairs the LPA, told journalists at a press conference here on Thursday.

He urged plot buyers to be vigilant and make enquiries with the LPA as well as RDDTCP either in person or over phone or through their e-mail addresses: mlpa_ctcp@yahoo.in and dydtcpmdurgn@gmail.com before buying plots from any of the realtors.

As per rules, every land promoter must earmark a minimum of 10 per cent of the total extent of land as ‘Open Space Reserve’ (OSR) area and use it for public purposes such as parks and playgrounds. Apart from this, 20 per cent of the land must be reserved for roads and one per cent for shops. If the total extent of the land exceeded 10 acres, then the promoter should additionally allocate five per cent of the property for public utilities. "But these rules are flouted and many such incidents have been brought to my notice in recent times," he said.

Referring to a recent inspection conducted by him at Agrini residential enclave in the city following complaints of the promoter having sold a piece of land earmarked as OSR area, he said that the police had registered a criminal case against the developer.

The government had framed rules to ensure planned development. "It is only when they are not followed that people residing in unapproved layouts suffer from issues such as clogging of drainage channels, rainwater stagnation, congested roads, inability to lay underground drainage and so on," Mr. Mishra added.

He pointed out that some land developers had promoted properties on the basis of "illegal" layout approval granted by panchayat presidents who had no authority to approve layouts. The LPA, RDDTCP and Director of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) in Chennai alone were the competent authorities.

The role of local bodies was limited to the extent of granting ‘site approval’ (permission accorded for constructing a building on an individual plot after ascertaining its suitability) and building plan approval to commercial buildings (below 2,000 square foot) and residential buildings (below 4,000 square foot).

Buildings constructed beyond the stipulated measurements must have obtained plan approval from the LPA. "But in violation of these rules, the Madurai Corporation had granted selective approval to much bigger buildings in 2010. While some applications for approval had been forwarded to the LPA, the others had been cleared by the Corporation," he said.

Action had been initiated against the erring officials as well as the promoters and the issue was before the High Court. Cautioning land and residential house buyers to be doubly careful, he advised them to demand an affidavit from the promoters with regard to land ownership as well as encumbrance certificates for at least 20 years.

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