Action to be taken against commercial complexes without parking space

The recent decision of the Tiruchirapalli City Corporation to take up a survey to identify and seal buildings that are constructed without approval and in violation of approved building plans and rules has raised expectations among the city residents and civic activists looking for a crackdown on violators.

While the decision has largely been welcomed, there is an undercurrent of scepticism among civic activists as it remains to be seen whether the civic body would exhibit the political will to carry out the task.

Apart from buildings with plan violations, the corporation has gone on record, perhaps for the first time, to promise action against commercial complexes without parking space and those which have converted their basements (shown as parking area) into commercial space.

The corporation has also warned of action against buildings constructed in violation of height and the mandatory no-construction space restrictions around heritage structures.

Over the past couple of decades, much of the city development has been poorly planned and violation of rules has been rampant.

Prominent among them is the violation of rules by several commercial buildings in different parts of the city with civic officials turning a blind eye or pleading helplessness citing lack of powers to demolish such structures.

Most of the commercial complexes, especially in the city’s bazaar areas, West Boulevard Road, Fort Station Road, Thillai Nagar, and around Chathram Bus Stand, which have come up in the last few years, do not have provisions for parking. Parking areas in some of them are sorely inadequate in proportion to the number of customers attracted by them. The basements of several commercial complexes, cited as parking space in the building plans, have been converted into commercial space and rented out.

In Thillai Nagar, one could hardly make their way through parked vehicles in front of commercial buildings to enter the cross roads. Similarly, scores of vehicles parked in front of commercial buildings around Chathram Bus Stand and Fort Station Road have shrunk the road space considerably, endangering road users. More recently, the Reynolds Road has become one long parking area following the opening of a commercial building along the road.

“We welcome the decision and hope that the corporation do not disappoint at least this time and strictly enforce the rules. Since most of the commercial complexes do not have parking areas, customers visiting the establishments, park their vehicles on roads. The blatant violation not only causes a traffic hazard but also robs pedestrians of the pavements,” says S. Pushpavanam, secretary, Consumer Protection Council.

Consumer and welfare organisations, such as his, have long been pleading for firm action against violators. Fed up over the official apathy, Mr. Pushpavanam is even planning to move the court through a public interest litigation seeking relief.

“Civic authorities have miserably failed to enforce the rules over the past 10 to 15 years during which most of these development took place. While the corporation decision is welcome, civic officials should proceed step by step to remedy the situation. First, they should create adequate parking space in commercial areas as not all the commercial buildings can be sealed or demolished overnight,” says N. Ramakrishnan, a civic activist.

Mr.Ramakrishnan also welcomes the corporation move to enforce buildings rules such as the height and the distance restrictions around heritage structures in the city.

“The corporation needs to identify all historical structures in the city and take steps to protect them from encroachers,” he says.