IN ANOTHER case reported due to the Haryana State’s policy of increasing the Floor Area Ratio (FAR), high drama was witnessed on Thursday morning when a senior government doctor called the police to his house. The reason behind this was the development of cracks in two adjoining households, due to the construction of stilts and a four storey builder flats within a 1 kanal plot.
Dr Rajiv Vadehra (63) who resided in a 1 kanal two-storeyed bunglow with his two elder relatives had to hurriedly move out of the house as cracks began to develop and they feared for their lives. “I lived in a two- storey house which we built almost 20 years back in a 1 kanal plot. Apparently, upon being permitted by the HSVP, house being built in the plot right next to ours is going as far up as four floors along with stilts. As a result of their construction work, major cracks developed in my house in the common wall, and the wall perpendicular to it, even in granite slabs of the kitchen counter. We had to rush out of the house when we saw the glass windows of drawing cabinets shatter right in front of us,” he told The Indian Express.
Several complaints similar to Dr Vadehra’s have been made to the police, who have filed DDRs in this regard.
Home-owners have fast taken advantage of the relaxations in the state’s building code to construct new floors without much thought to the structural stability of the buildings. This is changing the landscape of Mansa Devi Complex (MDC) in Panchkula and many other urban estates in various towns of the state. It has been two days since Dr Vadehra also submitted a letter of complaint as well as concern to the Estate Officer and ACS of HSVP, but an inspection of the site is yet to be carried out.
Criminal complaint filed
The police was called on Thursday after the neighbours broke through the common wall between the two houses, in absence of the family, and illegally entered the house of the complainant. The family has now also filed an official criminal complaint alleging trespassing. “They continued to enter our house illegally soon after the police was gone from the premises,” Dr Vadehra said.
What is the issue?
The amendment in the Haryana building code, passed in May 2018, increased the maximum permissible FAR earlier ranging between 100 to 145 per cent to the current 140 to 220 per cent in core residential areas, and from 100 to 165 per cent in residential areas. The FAR is the total area covered divided by the plot area, multiplied by 100.
The maximum permissible height too was increased from 12 to 15 meters, allowing people to build ground plus three floors, and, in case of a stilt parking, a stilt plus four floors. Another amendment made to the code in June, 2019 further raised the permissible height to 16.5 meters, subject to clearance from the fire department.
The Indian Express had carried a series of stories in December, 2019 when issues had first started cropping up.
A retired Chief Structural Engineer of Punjab Government, who has contributed to the designs of famous government buildings not just in Punjab but also Delhi, had said, “Buildings in a row with uneven foundations pose a huge force on the building next to it. If foundation levels are different, then lateral as well as horizontal forces are at work, which are making buildings tilt and cause cracks.
The then Directorate of Town & Country Planning Administrator of Haryana, K M Pandurang, had stated, “We drafted a common building code to bring uniformity. Now one common building code is binding on all, be it HSVP, DTCP, Urban Local bodies, HSIIDC and GMDA.”
Justifying the increase in FAR and height of the buildings, he had added, “We allowed four floors earlier as well, but according to the zoning, only three units were allowed and the fourth did not have a kitchen, and it was considered that it will not be used by a family. But people would bypass the rule, especially in Gurgaon and Faridabad and modify their houses to add a kitchen without permission.
Somehow, registering authorities were also registering the floor. After I joined the department in 2018, I asked the registrars to not register those floors. The people of Gurgaon protested strongly (bahut hungama hua Gurgaon mei) and we came up with the modification. Fourth floor was then permitted as a separate household entity.’”