The UT Estate Office, which is supposed to keep a check on violation of building bylaws across the city, has failed to keep its own house in order. Its building, as also the adjoining building of its sub-divisional office, are replete with violations.
But Deputy Commissioner-cum-Estate Officer Mohd Shayin, who is quick to seal private buildings, has turned a blind eye to the violations in the buildings occupied by departments under his charge.
Balconies have been covered in the Estate Office in violation of building bylaws. One balcony has been converted into a room by using bricks. The room is reportedly used for cooking. Other balconies are filled with junk, including discarded furniture, broken almirahs and air coolers. Electricity wires are hanging loose at several places.
The corridors are stacked with almirahs, reducing the vacant space that is mandatory. A gate has been installed on the stairs leading to the first floor. In case of a fire, this would become an obstruction in evacuation of people. Similar conditions prevail in the SDO building. Despite notices being issued by the Fire Department for non-compliance of fire safety norms, there is little that has been rectified. In the basement are stacked building plans of the entire city, under a leaking roof.
The facade has been changed and most of the balconies have been covered, using glass, to store files. Chairman of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal Charanjeev Singh says, “Violations in any building need to be removed. However, there are more violations in government buildings than in private ones. There is a need that these buildings are checked first. While traders are not allowed to use basements for any purpose other than storage, a number of government offices are functioning from basements.’’
Similar views are echoed by Kamaljit Singh Panchhi, president of the Traders’ Association, Sector 17. “There are violations in the building housing the office of the DC as well as in the SDO building. Instead of adopting a pick-and- choose policy, the officials should rectify these violations as well. There is a need to constitute a committee to holistically look at the problem and find solutions,” he says.
Violation of bylaws is also apparent in several buildings occupied by the governments of Punjab and Haryana. Vehicles are regularly parked inside the buildings. Although the Fire Department has often complained about problems in firefighting due to the presence of hoardings, these remain installed outside several government departments.
In the office of the Municipal Corporation, files are stacked in the racks in the basement and share space with the vehicles that are parked here. Offices have also been created here. A number of offices of Chandigarh Housing Board are operating from the basement where partitions have been raised.
Nominated councillor Surinder Bahga, whose office was sealed recently, says that the rules should be the same for everyone. If private individuals are not allowed to make internal partitions, then these should not be allowed in government offices as well.