Monday, December 8, 2014

"Urban Farmers & Mass Suicides!" Illegal Contruction Story is on....

The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer…Henry A. Kissinger

Kissinger, American diplomat and political scientist. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (shared with Le Duc Tho, who refused the prize), he served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. And he was also known for his sharp opinions about even sensitive matters & above quote proves that! Here many may understand first part of the quote as we all know in our country, right from breaking the signal to building something which isn’t in law, illegality is now part of our system. But what he meant unconstitutional is to regularize the illegal is what I feel. And again as Hon Collectors statistics about the illegal constructions numbers is making headlines. As well recently a special committees meeting of very high profile officers about illegal constructions took place in Pimpri Chinchwad; all indicates this topic is high on agenda! I think right now I don’t want to become Chief Minister of Maharashtra as well can’t imagine myself as either Chief Secretary or Urban Development Secretary of the State, as whatever perks all these post may offer yet a sword of what to do with illegal constructions hung on their heads & I am sure none of them must be having peaceful sleep at nights!

The illegal constructions as by now even a school going kid who reads news paper can tell what are they so let’s not get tangled in to what it mean but let’s see what’s happening on the fire fighting front for the same. Speaking about Pune, the Collector has formed nearly 150 odd teams of officials as well engineering students with a form & started surveying the entire district i.e. collector’s jurisdiction & results as expected to me are what they should have been. Means nearly 70% buildings are illegal on prima fascia, this doesn’t mean they have violated every norm of building rules but failed to provide proper documentation. This may be because most of the builders have handed over the buildings & residents are not having or not ever inquired for basic documents like NA order i.e. non agriculture order, leave apart plinth checking or occupation certificate & other noc’s from the builder. This isn’t new as none of my customer ever bothered to ask these things yet it’s a good practice to ask for all documents by the flat holders & to give without they asking by the developer; but then good practices are something we are not used of in our country! Another aspect is construction quality of these buildings & on this front too, the situation is alarming as a simple logic which even a non technical person also can understand is if the builder isn’t bothered to take any legal sanction for the building what would have been his attitude towards the construction practices which any way are not mandatory or there wasn’t any authority to supervise the same!
 Again this survey is only for the buildings of which permission has been given, if there is any such; after 2009 i.e. in last five years only! And yet the large figures of percentage of unauthorized buildings have already been in news so imagine what must be happening in past or era before that! I really congratulate courage of the present Collector who has taken this task & not only he has surveyed & openly acknowledged the survey outcome but on his own wrote a report to the State Govt as what should be done in future to avoid such constructions! Well that report will have to cross many tables & we all know what it takes to get such report in to reality but yes at least there is a start. And with all these “hohallah” there will definitely some awareness amongst the flat buyers about illegality of their life time buy.

What’s more interesting is situation of millions of these existing illegal buildings all over the State & big cities like Pune, Thane, Pimpri Chinchwad, Mumbai, Nashik i.e. right where even Municipal Corporations are supposed to supervising the building construction. As agreed the Collector office till now has week infrastructure on monitoring the building activities but who has stopped the municipal authorities under whose supervision also millions of such structures are standing tall & with proud! Here its five legged nexus which is mainly responsible for allowing this & developers & officials of these municipal corporations or collectorate are first in chain. Then comes the political bodies of these corporations who kept mum, either they were directly involved in sharing profits from these buildings or fool enough to consider the residents in these buildings as their vote bank. Then comes the supporting departments of the Govt & these are right from Revenue to Police to Urban Development to MSEB; even Financial institutes & to some what extent with all due respect the courts i.e. judicially too! All of them have supported in some way or turn a blind eye on these illegal constructions. As all these departments preferred to consider illegal constructions isn’t their baby when they could have easily intervened by their role for e.g. MSEB could have refused to supply power to these buildings or the registrar would have refused to registrar the agreements of the flats in these building or even the financial institutes who shouldn’t have financed these projects! The State Govt & Urban Developments too can’t escape saying they just make policies as it’s their poor planning & policies which have allowed the entire system get corrupted. Also judicially has failed to clear the legal matters in time under which in many cases the developers have taken stay against various demolition notices or for stop works; agreed law is blind but it can’t be justified of being slow! Then comes the Media which always pretends to play the role of whistle blower but mostly it’s like police coming in the end in bollywood cinema; as where were they when the buildings were in construction? And last comes the clients or the person who has booked a flat in such buildings. Here I feel like these people from mostly middle or lower middle class are in a way like urban farmers, living in these illegal buildings & as every day we read in newspapers many farmers doing suicides, this is in a way an Urban Mass Suicide! Many won’t like the term but it’s because Govt has been failed repeatedly to provide a decent legal home in affordable price, that’s why these urban farmers has to settle themselves in illegal buildings is a cruel naked truth! Yet some fault lies with them as in no book of the society, suicide is justifiable. Here I will ask a simple question, however you may be hungry will you eat stale food or buy stale food from your hard earned money? Answer is a sure no, then why you buy a home which you know is illegal? I know living in own home of mine & having no worry of next day, to write this is easy but then we all have to go through our hard times! And like bribe, illegal construction is a crime for all the parties involved & buyer is also a party to the crime!

So what the Hon CM & all high profile officers team involved should do? As I mentioned, one is what line of action we are going to take in future for not allowing illegal buildings to grow. This will include setting up a system which will ensure fast clearance to legal development & a total control of illegal development! And second is what about the existing illegal building. As to win elections by encashing a burning issue is easy but fact is now one has to face the heat of that burn. And trust me it’s what Govt is going to do with the existing illegal building will decide the fate of in future illegal buildings. As for any tough problem to solve there always are two ways, one is easy one & short term & another is tougher & longer but sure! Same way here is the short one & that is come with amnesty for existing illegal buildings, it will make all the living Urban Farmers happy & whatever nominal amount will be charged to regularize we all know, no one will be really demanding it & no one will pay it; so all will be merry with this solution. Except one thing that it will be a flood gate for all future new illegal buildings; as then the message will be very clear, that you can build anything anywhere without any law & you will get away eventually! This is what Mr. Kissinger was referring as unconstitutional as we are legalizing the illegal by changing law itself!

The longer way is not only difficult but very tricky as is Govt ready to demolish thousands of such buildings & ready to make millions homeless & how, if yes? At the same time what about those thousands of officers or systems employees who were involved in allowing construction of these building, how we are going to punish them & send a message for next genre for not dare to do so? Well this is why I said I don’t want to be CM or Chief Secretary right now! Joke apart, it’s not impossible, only question is applying will & some mind. First of all let’s take one segment or a particular area or block as a pilot run, say Ambegaon sector. Now as the Hon Collector has made a detailed list, confirm the legality or illegality of same. Even we can think of setting up informants’ team also like police have so to get information about illegal structures, which is hidden from the system. Establish fast track courts especially for illegal buildings for any legal filing by the involved parties. The Govt has millions of hectors of land, build equal amount of flats via private participation by giving them additional FSI or form a Govt separate fund for the same & provide all necessary infrastructure to these building. And now send notices to all the residents of the illegal building to get shifted in these building on ownership basis with some amount as deposit & making agreements with individuals. And if in a specified time they don’t move then by force & under court order evacuate them & demolish every illegal building! Now use the land on which the illegal building were standing for the allocated purpose by auctioning them & use that money for building new buildings which are alternate arrangements! At the same time make a separate team of administration to check records of all the permissions as well duty record of concerned officers , during whose tenure these illegal buildings has been constructed; give them show cause & punish them with different ways i.e. right from stopping from promotions to demotions depending upon the seriousness in lapse of duty! Black list all such developers as well charge them under criminal offense along with the financial institutes who has financed them or such flat holders! This post action is very much important as so next time ever one should be high on alert & not ever dare to get associated with any illegality. The pilot run will make us know the flaws in the action plan & after clearing every flaw, come up with a role model & then ask ever Collector/ Commissioner to implement it with such set up city wise. And all this in stipulated time span & under monitoring of directly the CM!

This all may sound like a dream in the serial “Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapane”; but then speak to the families of ambegaon building which has collapsed & then they will tell you how they too have dreamed of a simple home of their own & what happened to their dream! Well if the Govt has been responsible for shattering dreams of thousands of such families, then by making the above dream come true they surely can make out for the offense they have done. And then why the Govt is for if not allowing the citizens even to dream for their own four walls! And this is test of all those who are associated with real estate & believe in the system, as it’s not just the question of some illegal buildings but its matter of trust of entire society on the law & respect towards the same! So its responsibility of each of us to raise our voice & see that justice is made & each guilty will be punished whoever  he is for the illegal construction, as there only lies dream of a common Urban Farmer of his own home!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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1 comment:

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