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India ramps up authorised construction drive

India is attempting to curb the amount of unauthorised construction activity by ramping up penalties for those who do not abide by the rules.


It comes after three major municipal corporations claimed helplessness in the face of widespread unauthorised construction in New Delhi.

In a report to the Delhi High Court, South Corporation has advised implementing a sharp increase in the penalty amount and discontinuation of electricity and water supply to the building, among other proposals.

Contributing factors

A number of factors have been attributed to the rise, including a supposed soft regularisation policy in the city, as well as an acute shortage of staff for the unsolicited construction activities.

Despite the introduction of routine sealing and demolition drives against illegal structures, it seems that these have failed to be a deterrent and - as such - calls have been made for stringent laws to curb the practices.

In a period of just three days, South Corporation had taken action against 135 illegal structures, with two other corporations taking similar action against unauthorised construction.

Route of the problem

Manish Gupta, commissioner for the South Corporation, identified the problem in the 11-page report, where the problem of unauthorised construction is analysed in detail.

"At present, a person has to pay a fine of Rs 5000 for unauthorised construction. Most people pay the amount and get away with it. Also, in several cases, people don't take the completion certificate. There is a need to increase the penalty," he advises.

A further suggestion from the civic agency is to disconnect electricity and water supplies to buildings that are identified as being illegally constructed as - even after they have been cited - it can take time for action to be taken.

"We have suggested that whenever demolition orders are passed, DJB and discoms should be asked to discontinue water and electricity supply within seven days,'' an official stated.



Some civic agencies are also hampered by a lack of staff, with the South Corporation having just 159 junior engineers compared with 323 sanctioned posts, with each junior engineer looking after four to six municipal wards, which makes it difficult to keep close tabs on illegal construction.

Expanded roles

Mr Gupta has recommended that the Delhi Police's role in checking unauthorised construction should also be better defined, with unauthorised construction "made a cognisable offence on the basis of complaints filed by field officers".

Other proposals have also been made, including the simplification of existing policies on subdivision and amalgamation of plots, lal dora and urbanised villages, as well as construction on agricultural land, where the maximum complaints of unauthorised constructions are reported from these areas.

The recommendations have been sent to the Delhi government for approval, before being submitted to the high court, after which authorities will hope to substantially clamp down on any further illegal activities.

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