Updated: July 9, 2021 11:49:41 pm
Responding to a petition concerning fire safety and regularisation of illegally constructed buildings, the state government in its submissions before the Gujarat High Court clarified that it remains averse to an impact fee-like ordinance or demolition of illegal constructions.
A division bench of the Gujarat High Court, hearing a public interest litigation concerning fire safety and fire NOC in buildings, had earlier suggested to the state government that it may consider not granting fire NOC if a building does not have a valid Building Use (BU) permit. The state had submitted that the same would not be feasible and had sought time “to work out the policy to address the issue of Building Use Permission.”
Reverting on the same on Friday, advocate general Kamal Trivedi informed the court that the state government “could not take a call” and is presently only “thinking to see that some time limit is given to all building owners to fall in line, failing which we may have to take a call as to whether we should start taking action.” Action in this case, would imply demolition of the said illegal building, added AG.
“For the time being, we have decided to give some time to all building owners, occupiers to fall in line. Yesterday (July 8), a decision was taken to give notices and direct all authorities to let people know of a time limit given….at the end of the time limit we will try to find out how many buildings are not in a position to do this (regularise), and then we will take a call,” submitted AG Trivedi.
According to Trivedi, only two solutions are available. One is to introduce impact fee through an ordinance where a payment is made against irregular or illegal construction made against the approved building plan, which according to him, “the government is not keen to do this immediately”. A second option is of demolition which AG Trivedi termed as “physically a rather impossible task”
In 2001, Gujarat brought in the Gujarat Regularisation of Unauthorized Development (Impact Fee for regularization of illegal properties) Act (GRUDA) wherein apart from the plan submitted and approved for building use (BU) permit, any addition or alteration could be legalised via paying a fee, calculated on the basis of area. This Act was introduced for a period of six months. In 2011 again, following the Gujarat HC criticising authorities for failing to check illegal construction in the city and across Gujarat, the concept of impact fee was again brought back.
The bench however remained sceptical of the state’s plan and instead suggested that a policy must be thought of where building use and regularisation is linked with taxation of property.
“Unless you take immediate action, nothing is going to happen. There seems to be no synchronisation between your tax department and estate department.. The moment there is unauthorised use or occupation, immediately all essential services should be disconnected, because tax is collected for providing services,” the bench remarked.
The bench has granted four weeks’ time to the state to come back with a possible policy framework.
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