VACB detects many illegal constructions

The huge demand for lodging has led to a rash of illegal constructions in the heavily built-up Medical College Hospital (MCH) locality, according to Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) investigators.

Accompanied by their family or friends, hundreds of patients from outlying areas, a majority of them from economically weaker sections, visit the overcrowded MCH, the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), the Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, and SAT Hospital every day.

Finding affordable accommodation near the hospitals is a mirage for most of them. A run-down municipality facility nearby offers cheap lodging but has only a limited number of rooms.

A large segment of patients and their helpers are forced to pay up to Rs.500 or more daily to get modest lodging.

Instead, many prefer to sleep in the open, stoically braving the elements, pollution, and mosquitoes.

According to VACB officials, a set of businessmen, often acting in connivance with municipal officials, have stepped into this space to make quick money. Investigators said several of them had constructed buildings designed for commercial use, mostly as lodges, under the guise of personal housing. In most cases, the authorities turned a blind eye to the violations and issued the landlords building numbers, thus enabling them to get electricity and piped drinking water at subsidised rates.

The VACB recently conducted a random survey of newly constructed commercial buildings in the locality. Investigators said one landlord constructed five floors, one without sanction, and linked the top-most level to the main road by constructing an unauthorised ‘flyover.’

In another case, the VACB found that municipal authorities had accorded building permit to a land owner whose building plan ‘suppressed’ the fact that there was an access path to an adjacent public land. In its report, the VACB stated that ‘officers of the Town Planning Wing of the Corporation had admitted to the completion of the plan prepared unrealistically by licensed building supervisors and recommended the plan so as to get the building permit and building number by abusing their official position.’ It has recommended that the suspects, including at least six municipal officials, be prosecuted.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, VACB, S. Nandanan Pillai investigated the case.