Govt to amend laws to stop Shimla’s vertical growth

Shimla has two 10-storey buildings in a highly ecologically fragile zone prone to landslides and another 12-storey building in the town’s core area where new constructions are banned.

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla | Published:August 20, 2010 12:42 am

Shimla has two 10-storey buildings in a highly ecologically fragile zone prone to landslides and another 12-storey building in the town’s core area where new constructions are banned. There are 13 buildings that are eight to nine-storey high,while more than 170 others that have more than five to six storeys.

The state government said this in the Assembly on Wednesday,painting a grim picture of how law was bent,diluted,relaxed and even changed selectively to let multi-storey buildings,including those belonging to the government,come up in the hill capital.

Congress legislators Sukhwinder Singh Shukhu and Harvarshan Singh Chauhan were joined by BJP’s Suresh Bhardwaj to question the government as to how these buildings were allowed when common citizens cannot construct more than four storeys.

Bhardwaj raised questions on the 12-storey structure for Jagson International ropeway project at Jakhu. On the other hand,Chauhan tried to corner the minister on the inability of the government to take action against the violators,who he claimed felt encouraged at the government’s silence.

In his reply,Mohinder Singh admitted that it was a cause of serious concern that the buildings — a list of which he tabled in the House — had continued to go higher beyond the limits fixed under the Town and Country Planning Act. He,however,claimed that most government buildings had been granted approval to raise height from time to time,keeping in view the conditions prevailing at particular time.

The minister said the High Court building,which is also above 10 storeys,IGMC boys’ hostel,Transport Bhawan and Government Press had been granted approvals,while other illegal buildings were sent notices.

He announced that the government was working on a draft amendment bill to make comprehensive changes in the Town and Country Planning Act and the Shimla Municipal Corporation Act to plug some of the loopholes in them. “I appeal to the MLAs to send their proposals to the minister,the principal secretary (TCP) or even the chief minister on whatever changes they want to suggest in the laws,” Singh said.

The minister said the government had engaged a consultancy agency to undertake a survey of the town on buildings that have exceeded maximum storey limits. He was unable to give details on the action taken against the violators,whose buildings are in the list (187) tabled in the House.

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