The controversial Apartment and Property Regulations Act,enacted by the previous Congress regime to open the states doors to private builders and realtors,is all set to be scrapped in the next Assembly session that begins on December 19 at Dharamshala. The BJP government has now decided to strengthen the existing Town and Country Planning (TCP) Act to regulate construction activity in the state.
The power to sanction new apartment projects and regulate real estate activity in Himachal Pradesh to meet housing needs of the people in a sustainable manner will now be entrusted to the states Town and Country Planning department.
The move comes in the wake of a political storm caused by the BJP governments decision to sanction a mega-apartment project,near Shimla,to Bamloi builders that allegedly had serious violations. The government then favoured setting up a House committee to study if any violations were committed by realtors operating in the state. The speaker then constituted a panel.
The House panel,headed by BJP senior MLA Suresh Bhardwaj,had recommended the scrapping of the Act holding that the law was not in the best interests of the state. It pointed out a number of irregularities in the implementation of the Act,that according to the panel,had resulted in large-scale benami transactions and diversion of prime agriculture land along the national highways.
During the inquiry,the House panel had also found that 62 Essentiality Certificates (ECs) were granted between 2006 and 2011. Of these,27 were awarded in 2006 and 16 in 2008 primarily by the previous Congress regime. The present BJP government had granted eight in 2008,five in 2009 and nine in 2010. Just one Essentiality Certificate was given in 2011.
The Act also overlaps certain provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act (TCP) 1977 and HIMUDA Act 2004,the House panel concluded proposing amendments in the TCP Act to regulate new construction activities in the state to meet the growing housing needs.
Under the proposed amendments in the TCP Act,the government has decided to make the regulatory mechanism more stringent and will now make those who receive licenses or Essentiality Certificates (ECs) for building Apartments,accountable for violations. The new projects will also have to meet housing standards and should be environmentally sustainable.
The state cabinet meeting here on December 15 will take decisions on new bills to be introduced in the Assembly during upcoming winter session at Dharamshala.
Inquiries reveal that the TCP department has already issued notices to at least 66 persons ,who are involved in the apartment and real estate business for allegedly committing violations.