Pay up and get ‘regular’

What is your take on this latest development (Building regularisation brings relief to many) on building norm enforcements in Karnataka? In case you didn’t read it, here is a quick summary:

… deviations can be regularised by paying penalties. The state government on February 5 approved and published rules for the regularisation of deviations in properties … violations can be regularised to a tune of 50 per cent in residential and 25 per cent in commercial properties … compounding fee ranges from Rs 20/sq metre to Rs 80,000 /sq metre, depending on cities and area …

Penalties wont be small for Bangalore:

For the city or town with a population of 50 lakh and above, the penalties vary from Rs 3000/sq metre to Rs 30,000 for violations up to 25 and 50 per cent.

Good, or no good? I can’t make up my mind.

The good side first. Violations are so huge in number, that this seems the most, rather only practical way out. Town and city governments get to raise some money this way, not a bad thing at all. They aren’t talking only about Bangalore here, so hopefully, those still-small towns will look better than Bangalore suburbs when they get to be big.

The objections next. Who decides and calculates the exact percentage of violation? The process for determining penalties could invite corruption if it has too many or ambiguous sounding interactions with government bodies. Is the government sending a strong message to the offenders? Perhaps not. I am thinking of planning my next construction to have 25-30% violation, ignore Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and setback norms to build more than allowed, because I know a future legislation like this will let me pay up and get regular!

To me, the most important point is on the lines of ‘not sending a strong message’ – nothing in here to address the “root cause”:

  • FAR and setback violations: People/businesses change their construction plans after getting them approved.
  • Land use violations, unapproved construction: Corruption and no regular process for monitoring these.

So as I said, I don’t know whether to term this legislation good or bad. It could the best practical way forward. But I would be happier if stronger message and measures accompanied it to work on the root causes.

Disclaimer: I haven’t seen this draft myself, so have to go by what newspapers reveal about it. Proactive declaration part of RTI hasn’t come of age yet, or else these newspapers could start losing their edge over us bloggers :)

PS: Older posts with similar/related stuff:

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7 Responses

  1. Planning to build a house with 25-30% violations is a good one.

    Even though the government under pressure from land mafia et all have tried to implement this rule, the original approver of these violations is the actual culprit.

    The historical by laws meant for bangalore are so impossible that a middle class person can only construct a 12 by 15 room and a 10 x 12 kitched and a wash basin if you strictly go by those rules. SO, the government babus give suggestion to break as those laws are unimpimentable any more.

    The current need of the hour is to pull up those Government servents and modify the original by laws so that they are implementable. The same is true for 80% of our urban problems.

  2. Hy,

    I found your article very interesting, and if you are interested in corruption in general, I found a french website which deals with this theme: http://www.rsfblog.org

  3. Valid questions. You know somehow all these things seem like treating the symptoms rather than the cause. I doubt if piecemeal efforts like this are required. Indian cities need to be developed with a long-term vision and that would definitely require an overhaul of the cities. What is required is a fresh look at the standards for all infrastructure in India and then implement those standards across India.

  4. I don’t think such amendments will cover new develpoments and building plans. Now adys, building plan approval is tough.

  5. Indiamusing – How about we leave current cramped cities as they are (let them grow into heritage centers) and build greenfield cities instead !?

    Vardarajan, you are right. This legislation seems to talk about existing structures that are in violation. I hope the city will be strict though not corrupt in implementing the norms for newer and upcoming structures. But as Mohan said above – few of these bylaws need to made practical and implementable as well.

  6. I think it is unfair for people planning to construct houses, for people living in bangalore for many years in rented houses and not owning property. First of all there are no new layouts by the BDA, if there are – getting allotment is a lottery, Private layouts (approved) are still doing the 30×40, 20×30 and they are very expensive. Now byelaws need to be set in millimeters, specifying in higher units will result in the issues as highlighted earlier – reproduced below

    This is an interesting discussion. In case of the Bengaluru famous 30 X 40 site, 40 being the depth – around 10 feet have to be left in the front. Around 5 feet behind and sides. Effective area got here is 20 X 25 = 500 Sqft. Assume a feet for external walls (9 inches plus plastering), it comes to 18 X 23 = 414 sqft. I am left with only so much by these infamous byelaws. I am trying to fit in a decent bedroom and dining of 12 X 12 carpet area, Bath cum toilet of 5 X 8, Kitchen I am sacrificing for 6 X (whatever), pooja of 5 X 4 remaining space for Hall. It seems I cant have this. Interestingly the future concept is 20 X 30 sites and it brings tears to see people living in such conditions in the IT capital of India.

  7. Point taken scarlet and agreed. Just as Mohan said in the very first comment, these bylawas need to be reworked for present realities. Vertical growth may seem like the only option here. But spreading the “growth” or population density to peripheral towns and other tier II/III cities in the state and spending money on good connectivity with the capital city may be the best long term answer.

    [20 x 30 sites are a result of unfairly high real estate prices, isn’t it]

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