‘Over 95 per cent of structures built in violation of rules’

The collapse of a two-storeyed house under construction here on August 30 is a pointer to the blatant violation of building bylaws over which the local authorities seem to have little control.

Though it was substandard work that led to the collapse, the local Assistant Commissioner, who visited the spot, pointed out that there was also building bylaw violation.

It is pertinent to recall that the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) had mooted the idea of making it mandatory for contractors to procure ‘commencement certificate’ before beginning construction work. The concept was mooted in 2006 and the objective was to identify the violations, if any, in the approved building plan.

This, it was argued by the authorities, would help curb building bylaw violations in the initial stage itself. The commencement certificate, it was announced, would be issued only after a spot inspection by MCC engineers to ascertain during the foundation-laying level that the approved building plan was being followed by the contractors. But, it was easier said than done owing to the paucity of staff with the MCC and so the plan never took off. According to a former MCC Commissioner, more than 95 per cent of the buildings in Mysore have violated building bylaws in some form or the other.

A.R. Ravindra Bhat, builder, and member of the Builders’ Association of India, Mysore chapter, told The Hindu that introducing such practices would only lead to more corruption. According to him, the only long-term solution is to increase the floor area ratio (FAR), which, he said, is far too low in Mysore. FAR is the ratio of built area to the total size of the plot.

“A majority of people belong to the middle income group or the salaried class who buy a site for house construction after procuring a loan. Given the escalating cost of land or sites in the city, and non-availability of plots in MCC limits at affordable rates, landowners are bound to break the FAR rule and construct beyond the permissible limit and occupy every inch of the site,” the builder explained.

‘Higher in other cities’

The FAR in Bangalore and Mangalore is higher by 75 per cent compared to Mysore. If the same could be extended to Mysore, the building bylaw violations could be reduced considerably, said Mr. Bhat. He pointed out that a violation of 8 to 10 per cent in houses in residential areas was common, but in case of structures in the city centre, where the FAR was only 1.25, the violation was 100 per cent.

“Low FAR is one of the primary reasons for violation of building bylaws and almost 3/4th of the violations pertain to construction in excess of the permissible limit. The FAR varies depending on the road width and the residential area, but it is generally perceived to be too low in Mysore. Landowners tend to utilise the entire site without leaving setback area as required by law,” said Mr. Bhat.

It is pertinent to note that the Builders’ Association of India and Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI), Mysore chapter, had sought an increase in the FAR in the Mysore Master Plan 2031. But, the authorities have retained the existing FAR which varies from 1.25 to 1.5.

There is a strong argument for an increase in FAR, but the downside to it is congestion which will put a strain on civic infrastructure.

  • Issuing ‘commencement certificate’ was mooted, but plan did not take off

  • ‘Given escalating cost of land or sites, landowners are bound to break the FAR rule’