Team under Town Planning Department can conduct surprise raids

The government has decided to strengthen the Vigilance wing under the Town Planning Department to check irregularities in building permit allocations.

A 16-member team will be entrusted with the task of pulling up erring employees, builders, and contractors. A Government Order issued on October 3 said the bolstered cell would have powers to conduct surprise raids on local body offices. A new post of Chief Town Planner was created in the Vigilance wing in place of the earlier post of Senior Town Planner.

The newly appointed Chief Town Planner (Vigilance) Eapen Varghese told The Hindu here on Friday that the appointment of the other members was still on. “The team is being constituted for the entire State. Select employees in other sections of the Town Planning Department will be re-designated to the new wing,” he said.

The wing has the powers to go through the building permit application registers for irregularities and delays. Action will be taken against employees if there are delays in processing requests and if “building rules are misinterpreted to create difficulties for the applicants.”

Licences of architects, engineers, supervisors, or town planners will be cancelled if they are found to break rules stated in the Section L of the building rules. They are not supposed to give recommendations or permits in violation of the Town Planning Scheme.

The cell will investigate allegations of corruption against any employee and will recommend appropriate action to the department head, if the person is found guilty. If further action is needed, the case will be forwarded to the State government with a recommendation for action by the Vigilance under the Police Department.

The Chief Town Planner also has the powers to recommend to the Corporation Secretary to stop work and demolish the structure if a building is found to be illegal.

Similar action can be recommended against old buildings which have become unsafe over the years.

If the secretary delays action, further action can be recommended through the State government. The wing will also take note of cases where there are deviations from the building permit.

The inspection report for the respective months has to be submitted to the State government before the 10th of every month.