Thursday, June 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

2025 MC notices to violators missing
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 5
The scandal of the Punjab Local Bodies Department involving hundreds of “suppressed” notices and crores of rupees, has taken a new turn. The 2,025 notices “issued” by the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation to dozens of people who have raised huge buildings including hotels, shopping complexes and educational institutes, in violation of the building bylaws and the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, have been found to be missing from the record of the civic body during an inspection of records by the Vigilance wing of the department.

Though the corporation authorities, including the Chief Town Planner, had issued 7,383 notices to alleged violators during the past five years, no effort was allegedly made to realise the compounding fee, running into hundreds of crores of rupees from them. This points a finger of suspicion towards a well- oiled nexus between civic body officials and the influential land mafia operating under the alleged “patronage” of police and revenue officials apart from politicians. As a result, civic body officials did not “dare” to take any action against violators and the number of such unauthorised buildings kept soaring.

The checking of records by the Vigilance wing revealed that a huge number of notices — 2,025 — could not be produced by the officials concerned of the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation and its Building and Chief Town Planner branches. Only 5,358 notices were available with the MC officials. What was more mysterious was that though the Chief Town Planner’s office had issued 7,085 notices in the past five years, it was not aware of 298 additional notices, detected by the Chief Vigilance Officer of the department and his team, which had raided the civic body office last week.

Sources in the civic body said that this was just the tip of the iceberg indicating large-scale violations in the construction of huge buildings. In just about 10 per cent cases notices were issued, and in the remaining 90 per cent, the matter was either resolved by the officials and violators “amicably” or the latter used their “political or bureaucratic” power to elicit favour.

Meanwhile, law-abiding residents are happy over the action initiated by the Local Bodies authorities even as a section of them feared that the influential builders and violators would not allow the law to take its course. “Most of them (violators) are land sharks and have both money and high connections. How would they allow the corporation to slap compounding fee running into crores of rupees or to demolish their buildings?” questioned a resident.

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