If builders are allowed to violate norms and guidelines, the city will end up a mess

The citizens of Madurai recently celebrated Madurai Day in style. “Maa Madurai Potruvom” proclaimed the city’s glorious past. Bureaucrats, philanthropists and the organisers took centre-stage and appealed to citizens to keep the city clean and green.

This, they said, would help to project the city and its rich tradition dating back to the Sangam Age. The crowd answered the plea with spontaneous ovation.

However, contradicting the positive mood, the recent crackdown by the district administration, Town and Country Planning officials and the Corporation authorities on erring promoters and builders has raised eye-brows all round. The questions now being asked are: If the builders are allowed to violate norms and guidelines, the city will end up a mess. How could the officials have allowed builders to violate the rules, when the same officials appealed to all of us to keep the city clean and regulated?

While heritage lovers have welcomed the action taken by the officials and described it “as better late than never,” they want the administration to take the action to its logical end. If demolition of the buildings is called for, it should be done without fear or favour.

Moreover, the officials should be impartial and at no point should they give the impression that their actions are selective. The action taken must be transparent, even-handed and exemplary to gain the confidence of citizens and send a message to the offenders to obey the rules. Nobody is above the law, said High Court advocate Raja Pandian. “We are shocked over the disrespect shown to the laws by these builders…What were the officials doing when the constructions were taking place right in the heart of the city?”

A few days ago, the Town and Country Planning officials sealed a private building, now under construction, on the Kamarajar Salai, putting it under “lock and chain.”

The multi-storeyed building is sealed, declared Town and Country Planning Member-Secretary Sankaramoorthy and claimed that there were deviations in obtaining technical sanction and other procedures by the builder. The matter is now under investigation, he pointed out.

There are at least 45 to 50 multi-storeyed buildings, commercial complexes, malls and private buildings coming up on different locations in the city and peripheries, which have come under the scanner and are being taken up for scrutiny, officials said.

According to Subramanian, an advocate, if the officials are not going to nail the erring builders and set the records straight in the city, which is on an expansion trajectory, the public may be put at risk when they visit commercial shopping complexes, malls or kalyana mandapams.

No excuse

A similar threat also faced many residential apartment owners where the builders had deceived them with false promises. Though ignorance of law is no excuse, lives are at stake, he claimed and to avoid such “manmade disasters,” the public should be made aware of the laws.

Senior citizens and members of voluntary service organisations too appealed to the officials to be fair.

With many high-rise buildings coming up, congestion is bound to occur in the coming months. Already, safe vehicle parking is ruled out in many places. Despite all these negatives, if we wish to have a regulated city, we have to abide by the rules. We can’t have high-rise buildings in narrow lanes and blame any individual. The buck has to stop at some point or else, the innocent public will become the victims, they warned.

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