At least 464 engineering colleges in the State, including 76 in proximity to the Chennai Metropolitan Area, have flouted building norms by failing to obtain planning permission from town planning entities, according to town planning authorities.
According to preliminary estimates, around 95 per cent of the 2,935 colleges in the State have not obtained planning permission from the Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP), Chennai Corporation or the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA).
As many as 525 engineering colleges, 640 arts and science colleges, 447 polytechnics, 15 hotel management institutes, 660 B.Ed colleges, 11 medical colleges, 18 dental colleges and 619 industrial training institutes are under the scanner.
Only three engineering colleges in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur district have planning permission from the DTCP. The town planning agency has started issuing notices to all the 464 engineering colleges constructed without planning permission. The colleges will have to submit documents within one month, failing which the buildings will be locked and sealed as per the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971.
The Chennai Corporation also plans to start a field-level verification of all private educational institutions, colleges and research centres, in the city’s 426 sq-km area.
Officials from the 200 wards of the civic body are yet to complete a survey of the institutional buildings to identify violations and encroachments. If violations are identified, the Corporation will also issue notices to the owners under provisions of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971 and take appropriate action.
The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority issues planning permission to institutional buildings such as schools, colleges, higher educational institutions, technical institutions and research centres. The Chennai Corporation issues building approvals.
Many colleges seemed to have ignored building regulations because the All-India Council for Technical Education earlier did not insist on engineering colleges producing approved building plans before granting permission, according to a senior civil engineering professor.
While most colleges have acknowledged the receipt of notices from the DTCP, they claim such notices are a regular affair every year. “Those who have the approvals have nothing to worry about. We plan ahead and get approvals, only after which design or construction work begins,” says Kala Vijayakumar, principal, SSN Group of Institutions.
She suggests that to prevent being charged with violations, colleges need to have 10-year plans, depending on the expected increase in students and courses.
“The planning should be done well ahead, keeping two years aside for getting approval,” says Ms. Vijayakumar. Most reputable colleges have added at least five additional blocks, laboratories, auditoriums and facilities in the last few years.
Officials at Satyabhama University said they had received no notification from any civic body.