Special Correspondent

‘Buildings built without any plan are treated as cases of 100 p.c. deviation’

Water and drainage connections being provided

City requires planned and healthy growth

COIMBATORE: The Coimbatore Consumer Cause has expressed serious concern over the non-availability of adequate fire safety provisions, fire fighting equipment and fire escape in multi-storeyed commercial buildings where public gather in large numbers.

Even after the Kumbakonam and Srirangam fire accidents that took a heavy toll of lives, no concrete effort is being taken to prevent such incidents in public buildings visited by thousands of people every day, secretary of the organisation K. Kathirmathiyon has said in a letter to the Secretary of Municipal Administration and Water Supply.

The letter alleged that the Coimbatore Corporation was not concerned about the unauthorised and unsafe public buildings. The existence of those buildings might not even be known to the appropriate town planning authority as the Corporation merely collected penalty and made tax assessment for those buildings. It also provided water connections and other facilities. The Corporation did not seem to have rejected applications from any of these buildings for tax assessment or water and drainage connections by telling the owners that these structures were unauthorised or unsafe.

Even if the buildings were not approved or did not have parking space or were not safe for the public, the Corporation assessed them for tax and levied just a penalty. And, then water and drainage connections were also provided.

Buildings constructed without any plan were treated only as cases of 100 per cent deviation. This way they were given the same concession as those buildings whose structures were a deviation from the approved plans.

“The Coimbatore Corporation never identified those buildings as unauthorised constructions. The peculiar situation of 100 per cent deviation prevailed only in Coimbatore. The same facility available to approved and safe buildings are provided to unauthorised and unsafe public buildings also,” Mr. Kathirmathiyon said. “Except the collection of a meagre amount as penalty from unsafe public buildings, the Corporation had not bothered about the safety and convenience of the general public.”

Even in the case of penalty, the Corporation had reduced it by 50 per cent in 2003. (It was 50 paise a sq.ft. since 1993. Now, it is 25 paise a sq. ft.). Till date the Corporation took no action on any of the unsafe public buildings under Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation Act. The consumer body said its writ petition against the unsafe public buildings and the treating of the unauthorised public buildings as 100 per cent deviation was pending before the High Court. Unfortunately, even now the Corporation was collecting tax from these buildings as if they were only cases of plan deviations. And, amenities were also provided to these by the Corporation.

The consumer body said hopes of structures coming up in adherence to rules had also been belied now. Most of the buildings coming up now also fall under the same category of the existing unsafe structures.

The city required a planned and healthy growth. For this, minimum safety and facilities for the public, including parking area, should be available in such buildings. Hence the Corporation should be stopped from making tax assessment, providing water and drainage connections to such structures.