IN a relief to lakhs of unauthorised structures in the jurisdiction of municipal corporations in Maharashtra, the state government has finally framed rules to legalise those illegal structures which had come up before December 31, 2015. On Saturday, the government issued a notification containing final rules which detail the structures which can be regularised and those that cannot be regularised.
The notification, however, makes it clear that the illegal structures will be regularised only after the owner pays certain compounded charges. Of all the municipal corporations, citizens living in the jurisdiction of Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) would be the biggest beneficiaries as the industrial city has around 66,000 illegal structures, some of which have already been flattened by the civic body after a Bombay High Court order.
The issue of illegal structures has been raging since the 2014 Assembly elections. Two MLAs, Laxman Jagtap and Mahesh Landge, had quit NCP after the party failed to resolve the issue and had joined the BJP which had promised to find the “full and final solution”.
Keeping its promise, the Devendra Fadnavis-led state government first modified the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act in 2016 and then issued draft rules in 2017. After receiving suggestions and objections on the draft rules, the government on Saturday came up with final rules which have been published in the official gazette.
Jagtap, president of BJP Pimpri-Chinchwad unit, and Landge have hailed the government move, calling it a Diwali gift for thousands of ordinary citizens.The duo said that before coming to power, the BJP government had made a promise that it would regularise illegal structures and it has kept its promise. “After coming to power, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had publicly spoken several times about his government’s desire to bring relief to the hassled residents and has lived up to his words,” Jagtap and Landge said. “The Damocles’ sword hanging over the heads of thousands of residents has now disappeared…citizens can now take heart from the government move,” they added.
The rules state that unauthorised structures on inam (gifted) lands and class II occupants lands on production of clearance or no objection certificate from the competent authority will be regularised. The rules specify that authorised structures on lands reserved for public purposes except playground, garden and open spaces in any plan will be regularised, if the said reservation is shifted or deleted after following the due process of law, subject to condition that the cost of shifting or deletion is borne by the owner or the occupier.
As per the notification, illegal structures on lands reserved for linear reservations such as roads, railways, metros in any plan can be regularised, if the said linear reservations are shifted after following the due process of law. Similarly, unauthorised structures violating the land use zone would be regularised if the land use zone is changed after following the due process of law. Unauthorised structures on government lands or lands owned by other public authorities would be regularised on production of no objection certificate from the land owning authority and after transfer or allotment or lease of such land to concerned person.
The rules also state that illegal structures on land earmarked for any special scheme for rehabilitation or resettlement of any project affected person would be regularised at the discretion of the Planning Authority.
Civic activists, however, said what was likely to rattle the residents was the amount of compounding charges that they would have to pay. As per the final rules, (a) infrastructure charges equal to the development charges shall be levied and recovered from those seeking to regularise their illegal structures (b) Compounding charges not less than double the development charges will be levied and recovered.
Alleging that Fadnavis government has deceived the people in the name of regularising illegal structures, activist-turned-politician Maruti Bhapkar said, “While the move to regularise is welcome, the government has undone its good work by deciding to levy huge compounding charges. The compounding charges will be so huge that people will not be in a position to pay them up.” For instance, Bhapkar said, if a resident has a flat worth Rs 15 lakh, he will have to pay at least Rs 3 to 4 lakh compounding charges. “For an ordinary citizen for whose benefit the government supposedly took the decision, it is going to be a big blow,” he said.
BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar, however, said the compounding charges will be a measly amount. “It is wrong to say that violators will be burdened with huge compounding charges. There will be charges for various violations, but we believe the charges will not be huge one. The government has taken a decision in the interest of ordinary citizens after considering all aspects,” Kamtekar said.
When contacted, Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar said the final rules have been received by the civic body and he needed time to study them before making a comment. “I will have to go through the rules before I make any comment,” he said. He said there were around 66,000 illegal structures in Pimpri-Chinchwad, some of which have been demolished. “We must be having just over 60,000 illegal structures,” he said.
Shiv Sena MP Shrirang Barne, who had launched a massive agitation before the 2014 Assembly election for regularising the illegal structures, said, “The move is welcome. It will benefit the ordinary citizens. However, I will have to find out whether the rules will really benefit them and whether they will be in a position to pay the compounding charges,” he said.
Structures that can’t be regularised under the new norms
The rules make it clear that unauthorised structures in the areas where development is prohibited by or under any law, or development prohibited areas such as rivers, canals, tanks, blue floodline, defence zone, quarry, heritage buildings, dumping grounds, ecologically sensitive areas, like hill-slope having slope greater than 1:5; CRZ-1 areas, mangroves, forest will not be regularised or shall not be considered for declaration as compounded structures under section 52 A of the MRTP Act. Likewise, authorised structures in buffer zones and structurally unsafe building and authorised development carried out by violating the land use permissible in zones of development plan except in the residential zone.