Homes and gardens


writes on the recent order of the High Court that bans the registration of unapproved housing plots

The recent order of the Madras High Court banning the registration of plots and houses in unapproved housing layouts as well as the conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural use in an unplanned manner across Tamil Nadu is a welcome and timely initiative. The order will help in the preservation of the environment and minimise flooding of rivers to a large extent.

In Tamil Nadu, unapproved layouts have been formed on agricultural lands and sold as housing plots in the guise of panchayat-approved layouts. Layout developers get a gift deed registered in the name of the panchayat, surrendering common areas earmarked for roads, parks, and use this to falsely claim that they are approved housing sites. Village panchayat presidents do not have the power to sanction plot layouts. Rule 3 of Tamil Nadu Panchayat Building Rules 1997 states that “No owner or other persons shall layout a street, lane, passage or pathway or sub-divide or utilise the land or any portion or portions of the same on the site or sites for building purposes until a layout plan has been approved by the Executive Authority who shall get prior concurrence of the Director of Town and Country Planning or his authorised Joint Director or Deputy Director of Town and Country Planning for such approval”. DTCP Circular No.9862/10BA1 dated 14.06.2010 clearly mentions the powers of a panchayat president in sanctioning layout, building approvals only for approved plots. It states that they will not have any power to sanction approvals for unauthorised layouts.

Unlike Tamil Nadu where agricultural lands can be easily sold as unapproved layouts, in Kerala and Karnataka agricultural land cannot be used for non-agricultural purposes without fulfilling the rigid conditions for land conversion. Under Section 95 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, agricultural land can be converted into non-agricultural land after meeting certain criteria. Likewise, under the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008, reclamation of land is possible only under exceptional circumstances. In Karnataka, only an agricultarist can purchase an agricultural land.

The recent order by the High Court, however, will cause a stir. The Government was party to the transactions of unapproved layouts. Why did the DTCP remain silent and who is accountable for the many projects people have invested in? Hence The Government should come with a solution to accord post facto approvals for earlier unapproved layouts on a case-by-case basis.

The writer is a Chennai-based advocate and author of ‘Property Registration, Land Records and Building Approval Procedures Followed in Various States in India’

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2020 9:06:43 PM |

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