Government nod to regularise unapproved layouts in hilly areas

Most plots in such layouts bought by ‘poor and innocent people’, says G.O.

In a significant but contentious decision, the State government has decided to regularise unapproved layouts and plots in hilly areas. It has notified the Tamil Nadu Regularisation of Unapproved Layouts and Plots in Hilly Areas Rules, 2020. A large number of unapproved layouts have come up in hill areas, which were under the purview of the Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA).

A Government Order issued by the Housing and Urban Development Department on March 30 said most plots in such layouts have been bought by “poor and innocent people”. These layouts can’t be put back to their original use. Hence it was expedient to regularise them and provide basic infrastructure facilities.

A senior official in the Housing and Urban Development Department told The Hindu that the new G.O. was issued for hilly areas as previously regularisation was offered only for urban and rural areas. However, the G.O. covers only unapproved layouts in areas which do not fall under the elephant corridor and certain other parts. “There are about 570 villages in hill areas in the State and if ‘elephant corridors’, ‘ecologically sensitive areas’ and ‘landslide-prone areas’ are excluded, this G.O. would apply to about 300 villages,” he said. The order was only to benefit residential constructions and not commercial establishments, he added.

However, advocate M. Vetri Selvan of Poovulagin Nanbargal, a forum for environmental protection, said that the order weakened the powers of the HACA. “When the government is yet to notify all the elephant corridors and announce the buffer zones around sanctuaries, how can it regularise unapproved layouts and plots? Should it not be the other way around?” he asked.

He claimed that the G.O. was issued only to benefit a spiritual-religious organisation in Coimbatore. A senior official, nonetheless said, the plea of the organisation seeking exemption from the ambit of the HACA was a different matter that was being dealt with by the government. “This G.O. would not benefit that organisation,” the official insisted.

Mr. Vetri Selvan claimed the organisation would indirectly benefit from the move.

The order said that it was “considered necessary” to regularise unapproved layouts “in their entirety” by insisting to widen the roads, improve circulation, reserve areas for open space and public purpose to the extent feasible in each layout.

Regularisation will be considered on a case-to-case basis depending on the NOC issued by the district-level officials of forests, geology and mining and agricultural engineering departments.

Any or all plots that were sold and registered on or before October 20, 2016 were exempted from the operation of all the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Country Planning Act, 1971, according to the order. (The G.O. could be accessed at:

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 11:10:03 AM |

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