To fine or to demolish?

Over a month ago, I wrote about Koramangala demolitions. With another controversy raging around building plan violations by Garuda Mall, it is time to touch that topic again.

Back then, I had suggested (rather guessed) the best way forward:

… there are so many violations and illegal buildings around … middle path could be to punish only the big violators (> 50% violations). And “regularize” the rest if they agree to pay a heavy fine …

I am glad this is what they intend to do. There is a proposal to regularize all building plan violations below 25%. And I have also read (a TOI article, can’t trace right now) that before these deviations get blessed, the violators will be asked to pay fines in proportion to the size of their ‘crime’.

Mind you, these are only proposals as of now. And it is still not clear if demolition will be the fate of buildings that exceed this 25% limit. I suspect a lot of action is headed our way in form of protests, court orders and legislations. And trust me, a lot of money will be changing hands behind the scenes, because there is no hard and recommended way of measuring these “deviations”. 24.9% or 25%, who is to say and certify that? If you are a BDA employee, and want to make some quick bucks, you know what department to get into right now :)

Back to the main topic. While the proposals seem okay and practical, what worries me is this. There is no hard message out yet that says “this is it”. That from Dec 31 2006 onwards, our tolerance rate will be zero. And we will be dealing only in demolitions. If such a message is not sent loud and clear, builders will sit and wait (rather lobby) for a new “25% legislation” every other year.

Talking of the tolerance in building plan deviations, seems like the current laws say it’s okay if you are off by 5%. Read this report on the Garuda mall controversy, and notice this statement from the builders:

Under building bylaws, up to 5 per cent of deviation from the original building plan was allowed and during the construction, only 3.85 per cent of deviation had occurred, he said. Deviations arising out of the restaurants would be incorporated within the remaining 1.15 per cent, he said.

Looks like they didn’t treat 5% tolerance as the ‘buffer’, they just planned to consume all of it :)

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