Concern over misuse of building permits

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DISTORTED SKYLINE: A view of Udhagamandalam. - Photo: D. Radhakrishnan
DISTORTED SKYLINE: A view of Udhagamandalam. - Photo: D. Radhakrishnan

D. Radhakrishnan

Udhagamandalam: Instances of building permit violations are on the rise in Udhagamandalam. Though the municipality, which issues the permits, the district administration, as well as elected representatives are aware of this, precious little is being done to check the trend.

Consequently, proliferation of commercial complexes is changing the skyline of this hill station converting what was once a salubrious vacation destination into a concrete jungle.

Building rules were drafted afresh after a Master Plan was drawn up about 15 years ago. An Architectural and Aesthetic Aspects Committee was formed to regulate construction. Some had circumvented these with the alleged connivance of some officials, to construct commercial structures any which way.

Their modus operandi was to apply to the municipality for permission to construct houses on a piece of land. On the basis of these permits, huge complexes have been built. Promoters who were issued notices by the municipality wouldobtain stay orders from the court.

Little or no effort has been made to vacate the stay or bring violations to the court's notice. This works in favour of the promoters, who complete their buildings without having to worry about officials who go by the book. Ways to plug the loopholes are yet to be evolved.

Issue at council meet

This exploitation of loopholes figured prominently at a recent meeting of the Udhagamandalam Municipal Council. Municipal chairman R. Rajendran told The Hindu here that over 25 structures that deviated from the original plan were in various stages of completion.

Many of the citizens expressed the hope that the government would lay down clear-cut guidelines, ending the prevailing confusion.

They are of the opinion that only tough action would prevent people from resorting to violations. Officials should demolish illegally built buildings summarily, they say. Banks should be asked not to lend to promoters who violate rules.

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