Coimbatore

Panchayat officials unaware of new building plan approval rules, reveals RTI reply

The Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department is unaware of the Tamil Nadu Combined Development and Building Rules, 2019 and the Department of Housing and Urban Development order delegating building plan approval power for residential buildings to panchayats, replies from the Department officials to a series of Right to Information (RTI) queries have revealed.

The rules framed by the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department in February 2019 have allowed local bodies to approve building plans for five years and thereafter give a one-time extension of three years.

Unaware of the rules, village panchayats that come under the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department have been giving plan approval with only one-year validity.

Likewise, the panchayats are giving plan approval for residential buildings measuring only 2,000 sq.ft., when the Department of Housing and Urban Development has delegated powers to the rural local bodies to approve of plans for buildings measuring up to 10,000 sq.ft. Prior to this, the Directorate of Town and Counting Planning had increased the approval powers to 4,000 sq.ft. in 2010 and 7,000 sq.ft. in 2019.

This came to light when consumer activist K. Kathirmathiyon filed an RTI application and followed it up with a series of applications to officials in the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, starting from panchayat secretary to assistant director to the Commissioner of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj in the Department.

Finally, when the issue reached the office of the Commissioner, the reply was that the Tamil Nadu Combined Development and Building Rules, 2019 applied to all village panchayats. But, on the question of period of plan approval, Commissionerate chose to forward the RTI query to its subordinate officers.

Commenting on the issue, Mr. Kathirmathiyon said the RTI replies had exposed how each State Government departments functioned in silos, unaware of the rules and regulations framed by the other. In this case, having admitted that the Rules applied to the panchayats, the Commissionerate should have taken care to reply to the period of approval, but simply chose to forward the RTI query to assistant directors, who, in turn, forwarded it to block development officers and they, in turn, to panchayat secretaries.

It was only in an RTI appeal that the Commissionerate chose to reply that the period of approval was five years. The ignorance cost the public more than the officials, who, unaware of the rules, would have made the applicants to apply every year for plan approval extension or directed them to another office for approval of plan of a building measuring more than 2,000 sq.ft.

Therefore, the Government should put in place a system where the orders of one department reached another, in public interest.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 10:50:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/panchayat-officials-unaware-of-new-building-plan-approval-rules-reveals-rti-reply/article34362323.ece

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