AS MANY as 637 families in Sector 41-A got demolition notices by the Chandigarh Housing Board on late Monday evening.
The notices state that the demolition of the alterations made by them will be carried out on July 10, which is Wednesday. The MIG duplex flats of the board in which they are living are over 30 years old and alterations like additional rooms and staircase have been built.
These families claim they feel “betrayed” as they were promised regularisation of these changes in lieu of their votes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. They say that demolition of different parts of the structure may impact the entire dwelling unit and the board should have raised objection years ago.
The notices have been served by the Secretary of the Chandigarh Housing Board under Section 15 of the Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952. One of the notices to an allottee, who has extended the wall of one room and even constructed a sun shade at the front wall, states that a similar notice was served in May 2013 and the allottee was also asked to appear before the secretary for personal hearing. It was further specified that executive engineer of the enforcement wing of the board had informed the secretary on July 5 that the violations have not been removed. Therefore, demolition of the same will be carried out.
Rajat Malhotra, chairman of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHD) Welfare Federation, complains that they have not been given proper time and were served the notices at 7 pm on Monday. They have been running from pillar to post to meet political representatives who had promised them regularisation of these changes in lieu of their votes.
“Member of Parliament Kirron Kher had promised us that these changes will be regularised. We went to meet her but she wasn’t there. We also went to meet city BJP chief but he stated that this is an administrative matter and political interference cannot work here,” Malhotra said.
A delegation of these residents also went to meet the housing board secretary but even that did not work, they stated.
Vijay Chakarsal, a resident of Sector 41-A who is also the general secretary of the federation, said that the families had been spending sleepless nights ever since the notices were sent.
Finding no way, these residents also took to streets on Tuesday evening protesting against the notices. They said that they were demanding general amnesty for regularisation of need-based changes made in their flats.
“Where is Member of Parliament Kirron Kher? Where is Pawan Bansal or Harmohan Dhawan who agreed and announced bringing general amnesty for regularisation of need-based changes? Now at a time when residents are on the verge of getting their flats demolished, none of these leaders has come to our rescue,” Chakarsal said.
“According to law, a notice of minimum 30 days must be given to the owner/occupant of dwelling unit either to remove the violations himself or approach court of law to submit his point of version. Here Chandigarh Housing Board is bent upon demolition of flats on the pretext of removing encroachments,” Chakarsal said, adding that these are not encroachments but need-based changes made by them in the past 30 years, that too on the basis of notifications on need-based changes approved by the Chandigarh Housing Board in the past.
Chandigarh Newsline in a report last week had highlighted how the Chandigarh Housing Board went ahead with approval of need-based changes in its dwelling units despite a report from the consultant roped in to assess the structural stability, specifying that the alterations made do not satisfy even the basic seismic requirements. This meant that these dwelling units are highly vulnerable to an earthquake.
The need-based changes were to be approved only after ascertaining the structural stability of the dwelling units and Punjab Engineering College was hired to assess the structural stability of the same. The study was conducted by the civil engineering department. In a confidential report, accessed by Chandigarh Newsline, it was found that these changes made did not satisfy even the basic seismic requirements. Certain specifications are required to be fulfilled to satisfy seismic requirements, which are the key to ensuring structural stability of the building.
However, now the board has served demolition notices.