Wednesday, September 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Building bylaw violators must be punished

The report “One-time settlement scheme: Bonanza for building bylaw violators in Punjab” (Sept 12) is disturbing. Whereas the residents in urban areas have been expressing anguish, pain and anger time and again over encroachments in urban areas through various NGOs and newspapers, the Punjab Government has directed the local bodies to prepare modalities for voluntary disclosure and settlement for the violations by the law-breakers for circulation among the civic bodies.

Unfortunately, the politicians, the bureaucrats and the executive heads take little notice of these reports or letters on encroachments in urban areas in the newspapers. Besides the reported connivance between the civic officials and the offenders, which is a sign of failure in proper governance, the municipal staff have not been making proper check-up of bylaw violations or illegal construction at the time of commencement of building erection or re-erection of commercial and residential buildings.

When building bylaw norms (formulated in 1997) were enforced, how illegal constructions started coming up unabatedly? Obviously, this was due to the connivance of the municipal authorities with the wrongdoers. Had the law been enforced in letter and spirit, the difficult task of demolishing unauthorised structures would not have been there.

A unique case of illegal backyard boundary wall (which was spared of action by the Ludhiana MC), raised to 26 feet height by the owner of 451 B, BRS Nagar, is well reported. The height of the boundary wall cannot be more than 5-6 feet as per the bylaws and the right to get light and air from the adjoining property stands completely negated. The idea and purpose of providing light and air to all the properties and to avoid congestion as in the case of old city stands totally violated. The bylaws have been flouted, leading to direct encroachment on the rights of the back house and adjoining house owners. Further, an opening of 4 1/2 feet wide x 7 feet height made lately on the first floor wall by the said owner is a direct trespass into the open yard of the back house.


The Ludhiana Municipal Commissioner and his officials have not taken action against the owner for a long time. Both the urban bodies should have jointly launched an intensive campaign against illegal constructions which affect the posh structures.

In another case, while taking serious note of the blatant violations of building bylaws in commercial buildings, the state government had swung into action and charge-sheeted 15 MC officials (The Tribune, Jan 25, 2003). This timely action is worth appreciating. It was then revealed that inaction for a long time has encouraged numerous other influential persons to violate the building bylaws.

I request the officials to render timely advice to the politicians on the need for hard action against the offenders. The Punjab State Human Rights Commission should intervene in the matter to set the things right. The MCs in the state should go ahead with the demolition of encroachments for which orders have already been issued.

When in SAS Nagar, Panchkula and Chandigarh, strict compliance of rules of construction of buildings/ residential premises is enforced, why MCs in urban areas cannot check the violations or enforce the bylaws? The government should increase the composition fee at least 10-20 times and send the violators to the jail. There is also the need to start an awareness campaign on the building bylaws (as was done by The Tribune in December, 2002) in respect of backyard boundary wall violations in residential buildings.

Dr Gurkirpal Singh, Ludhiana

Painful memories of Partition

Apropos of the interview of Ms Sarla Sharma (Sept 12) in the context of the filming of Amrita Pritam's classic “Pinjar”, Ms Sharma appears to be one of the few eyewitnesses who saw all those brutal lacerations inflicted upon the hearts and soul of thousands of women on both sides of the thin red line of border drawn in 1947. Her remembrances of those dark days bring back the painful memories of years of living dangerously for women to preserve their life with honour.

Khushwant Singh’s “Train to Pakistan” and Bhisham Sahni’s “Tamas” are descriptive and narrative accounts of graphic details of the apocalyptic events of those days in the background of the socio-political scenario of those times when making of history was hijacked by demonic and satanic forces of maddening religious fundamentalism. Amrita Pritam’s “Pinjar” stands apart in its uniqueness of presenting the holocaust through the microcosm of lives of a few families with Puro as its central character of Dostoveskian dimensions.

No one can read the novel without being deeply moved by outstanding narration of visceral and cerebral outbursts of emotions of Puro who refuses to feel insulted and humiliated at the evil that men of dwarfish character heap on her. She washes all her wounds with warm and compassionate tears gushing from her heart and puts all her tormentors to remorse sooner than later. Amrita has explored all the dark recesses of human mind and scores over the others in portraying that the dark group psyche is same whether it is 1947 or 1935 when Puro is abducted by her Muslim paramour and ostracised by her family to oblivion of deliberate amnesia.

All the lovers of Amrita’s books look forward with mixed feelings of high expectation and trepidation whether her literary work par excellence gets made into a movie par excellence.

R. C. Khanna, Amritsar



Indo-Israeli ties

Apropos of the editorial “Battle against terrorism” (Sept 12), the historic statement of friendship between India and Israel deserves acclamation. Both countries have a lot to offer to each other. Both are victims of militancy. Right from its birth, Israel has been battling against forces determined to destroy the homeland created for the dislodged and oppressed Jaws, many of them victims of the World War II savagery against them.

That they have valiantly withstood the wrath of their foes proves that might is right. Adopting the carrot and stick policy, Israel has not only defied repeated attempts to demoralise and destablise this small Jewish state but with the American support and its own heroic efforts it has emerged as a powerful democratic state whose friendship is of great significance to India.

H. S. Chandel, Malangar (HP)


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