N.J. Nair

Government begins clampdown on erring builders

Special orders issued during the past five years to be reviewedSpecial orders issued even after the declaration of the Assembly electionsDepartment to identify and prepare a report on such constructions

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Hundreds of buildings, among them residential apartments and commercial complexes, are facing the threat of demolition for violation of the Kerala Municipal Building Rules.

The Local Administration Department has launched a clamp down on erring builders across the State, it is reliably learnt. This is in response to a directive from Local Administration Minister Paloli Mohammedkutty to take stern action against unauthorised structures, sources said.

Special orders have been issued during the past five years for constructing residential apartments and commercial complexes in violation of the floor area ratio and zoning regulation norms.

There have also been cases where special orders continued to be issued even after the declaration of the Assembly election schedule. All such buildings are now facing the threat of legal action.

The department is learnt to have decided to identify and prepare a report on such construction within corporation, municipal and panchayat limits throughout the State. Official sources said that rackets involving department officials and having links in the Secretariat have been actively signing away orders for such constructions in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.

The lobby was found to have been mainly concentrated in Kochi where the Government on the request from builders lifted the floor area ratio regulations, sources said.

Though the local bodies institutions have the power to demolish unauthorised buildings, the elected committees often shy away from such responsibilities, providing an immediate escape route for the offenders. On detecting a violation, the municipality or corporation is required to issue a provisional notice to the person concerned to demolish the structure within a month, failing which a second notice can also be issued.

The local body chief can then issue a confirmation notice and proceed to demolish the structure without any further indication. Rules specify that the expenses incurred should be realised from the offender.

Quite often the civic chiefs go slow on such cases giving time for the offender either to move court and secure a stay order or even go on appeal to the Government. In certain cases, the unauthorised structures are legalised on flimsy grounds.

But for now, the Government is learnt to be taking extra care to plug such loopholes and take action in all specific cases without delay. The option of seeking the help of revenue authorities to demolish such structures too is being explored to expedite the process, sources said.