Friday, November 22, 2013

Why building byelaw violations?

Building byelaws are introduced in urban local bodies to prevent indiscriminate building activity affecting ventilation, aesthetics, traffic problems etc. Later, U.S. method of zoning regulations were also introduced in Indian cities for land use control, control of density of population, control of developments around national monuments etc. If building byelaws and zoning regulations are followed, our urban areas would provide better living environment.
Most of our people do not like building byelaws as they feel that they are restrictions for exploitation of their property to the maximum extent. Commercial uses any where, with no parks and open spaces in their lands, narrow roads, and without amenities in their layouts etc., is what many of the land owners and investors like for developing their land. They want freedom for development like it used to be in olden days. With such atti tudes they violate building byelaws and zoning regulations meant for good living environment.

a) High landvalues: Bangalore being a rapidly growing large city with about 60 lakhs populations at present; has very high land values. Majority of the land owners / builders therefore want to exploit their land for more usage and returns. Violators therefore build more area than permitted by the Mahanagar Palike.

b) Setbacks: Set backs are prescribed in the building byelaws to provide for ventilation in the building, privacy from the neighbouring buildings and road, and to be away from the road to avoid dust and traffic noise. Part of front set back will be useful to the B.M.P. for widening of road due to increase in traffic volume. Majority of the owners / builders therefore reduce the set backs to build more area than permitted by B.M.P. as per byelaws.

c) FloorArea Ratio: In the Building Byelaws, Floor Area Ratio (EAR.) is prescribed separately for intensely developed area, moderately developed area, and sparsely developed area. Earlier, EAR used to be high in more intensely developed central areas in view of land values, and lower EA.R in the suburbs where land values are less. But the approach since the C.D.P. of Bangalore, 1984 is to fix less EA.R. in the central area to enable decongestion and higher EAR in the suburbs to encourage development where the traffic and other problems are less. But owners and builders ignore the FAR prescriptions and utilise more FAR in developed area to cash in on high land values.

d) Staircase: Owners of small sites build staircase outside the building, in the area meant for set back area; and utilize the staircase area within the building; to enable letting out first floor and upper floor of the building ifpossible, so that separate entrance is available.

e) Balcony: Open Balconies sanctioned by the BMP are converted in most of the cases for extension of the living or bed rooms. Open balcony area is not considered for F.A.R purpose and such conversion of balcony areas will increase the floor area used for self or for sale to get more returns.

f)Multi-dwellingunits: Multi- dwelling units I apartments are not sanctioned by B.M.P. in case of B.D.A. allotted sites whether new or very old. The reason being that persons apply to B.D.A. for allotment of site for building their own house. When such is the case building more than one dwelling unit defeats the purpose for which the site is allotted. When the owner wants to build one dwelling unit in each floor for use by his sons I daughters permission is not considered by BMP. What the owners do is to show the kitchen on first floor I second floor as store room I study ~ etc. and later convert the room to provide kitchen. Some officials in the B.M.P. suggest this idea to applicants who insist on morethan one kitchen in B.D.A. allotted sites.

g) Land use: Zoning Regulations of the C.D.P. of Bangalore prescribe land 
uses like; residential, commercial, public uses etc. for all the areas covered by the Plan. This sort of restriction on the land use are imposed by BDA for proper living conditions. Existing residential buildings are converted to commercial use along main roads, approach roads to localities, which are nearer to commercial area, nearer to public use I industrial area etc. Service industries also come up in such areas. Residential buildings are built in public use zone I park zone I industrial zone etc. Such violations also take place in other zones and Green Belt etc.

h)Better Returns: Violations are made to get more returns. Open areas in bungalows in the central areas are converted in to shadhi mahals I Kalyana mantaps, halls for reduction sale etc. Such conversions are observed on Infantry Road, Bowring Hospital Road etc. Acute parking and traffic problems are observed at these buildings. Many of factory buildings in the West of Chord Road industrial area which were incurring losses are converted into kalyana mantaps and as a result the service roads and other roads where such buildings are located are experiencing traffic problems.

i) Road Margins: Road margins are prescribed in the C.D.P. for congested roads to enable widening at a later date. Majority of the owners of sites encroach on road margins enforced by B.M.P. It becomes very difficult to widen the roads at a later stage to ease traffic problems.

j) Overheads: Some owners of properties are not willing to pay the overheads demanded by officials for sanction of building plans. They take up constructions without obtaining sanctions. Such constructions are mostly not in conformity with the byelaws.

k) Further Sanctions: If a sanctioned building is constructed with deviations, the applicants hesitate to approach B.M.P. for sanction for additional construction. In such cases when they come to know that deviations will be identified during inspections by officials, they do not make application or advised by the concerned not to do so for further sanctions. They will have the blessing of the area officials without sanctions for additional constructions.

Deviations in considerable number of buildings take place in collusion with area officials and politicians. Only when neighbours complain; notice is served by some officials for deviations with wrong advice in many cases to obtain stay orders from the courts. The matter is not pursued later and the applicants utilize the deviated constructions as they want.

m) StandingCommittee for Appeals: The Standing Committee for Appeals blatantly issue stay orders against any legal action on identified deviated portions of buildings both residential and commercial as per the statement of the Urban Development Secretary to the Press on 14.08.2003. Number of buildings are built liberally violating buildings sanctions / byelaws with the confidence that they will approach Standing Corrunittee and forget any actions by the Mahanagar Palike. It was stated by the Urban Development Secretary that the Act is proposed to be amended to put in place ajudicial body as an alternative to the Standing Committee.

According to a press report dtd. 05.09.2003, the State Government amended Rules under KMC ACT 1976 and issued circulars to the city Corporation Commissioner that appeals against building demolisation order will now come under the purview of the KAT in Bangalore and District Courts concerned in other corporation area. All appeals pending with the BMP standing corrunittee on appeal will be transferred to the KAT.

After identifying the various types of deviations and the reasons for the same, some practical suggestions are made to reduce the number of violations.
a) User friendly byelaws: Building byelaws and zoning regulations of the C.D.P. should be user friendly and acceptable to the public as far as possible. Adopting byelaws not suitable to the local conditions is not good. Byelaws should not be highly technical and should have simple terms so that a common man could easily understand and follow. I boldly say that some of the provisions are not understood / properly interpreted by even architects and civil engineers.

b)Committee to prepare byelaws: The corrunittee to prepare byelaws should comprise of not only technicians but various sections of the public affected by the byelaws.

c) Publicity to draft byelaws: The draft byelaws should be given wide publicity. The media should be involved and comments / suggestions invited. Locality-wise public meetings should be held involving residents welfare associations and their views on the byelaws noted.

d) Periodical revision of byelaws: The byelaws should be revised whenever there is change in the C.D.P. of the city for mutual conformity of the zoning regulations and building byelaws. The 1984 Buildings Byelaws are not yet revised by the B.M.P. Only draft byelaws are now being finalized based on the C.D.P. 1995. Such delays by B.M.P. will have to be avoided.

e) Easier and Quicker sanctions The building plans should be sanctioned quickly without harassment. A panel of technical officials with town planner, architect, and civil engineer be formed in the B.M.P. to guide and convince the applicants about the good effects of byelaws for ventilations, avoiding traffic problems etc. This panel should also co-ordinate with the concerned sections in the B.M.P. to sanction without delay.

In spite of all the procedure to have a user friendly building byelaws and simpler procedure for easier and quicker sanctions, if property owners deliberately violate from sanctioned plans or build without sanction the punishment should be severe including imprisonment for severe violations as provided in the Kamataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961 enforced by B.D.A for Bangalore. Strict enforcement is necessary to curb violations in building constructions. The following are suggested for reporting of violations and to initiate action in such cases.

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