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Sunday Special » Perspective

Posted at: Jul 8, 2018, 12:40 AM; last updated: Jul 8, 2018, 12:40 AM (IST)

Break the rule, bend the law

Sukhmeet Bhasin
Break the rule, bend the law
Photo: Vijay Kumar

Sukhmeet Bhasin in Bathinda

The past decade has witnessed  the sprouting of several illegal buildings in Bathinda. Some 1,383 notices were served to the violators during this period. Out of these, the building branch of Municipal Corporation of Bathinda (MCB) issued notices to 533 cases under Section 269 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, to demolish the illegal buildings.

However, nothing has changed. Nothing seems to have been done.

There are 60 colonies in the city, out of which 42 have been regularised and others are in process of becoming legalised. A major violation of building bylaws in the city is in the form of commercial structures constructed in residential areas. Unfortunately, the regulatory and enforcement work of the building branch has been limited to issuing notices for violations. Or at best listing offences in a hush-hush manner! This is evident from burgeoning illegal constructions in the city.

Besides insignificant smaller constructions, owners of big hospitals, beer bars and showrooms have raised massive concrete structures in the city without getting their maps approved. It seems like the illegal-building business is flourishing under political patronage. Those with vested interests have come up with novels ways to defy the building bylaws. To veil the truth, a building is covered with a sheet, and renovation is cited as the excuse. Only when the sheet is removed  one gets to see the new violations.  

Even after Navjot Singh Sidhu, Local Bodies Minister, issued orders to act tough against the illegal constructions, the MCB demolished only a handful, located on the outskirts of the city. A few ruling-party leaders reached the spot in no time and entered into a heated argument with the officials. Lack of coordination between the MCB, police and executive is also the reason that no action has been taken. The norm is that MCB officials demand police security and presence of executive magistrate when they go to perform their duty. At times, the police protection is not provided and at others executive magistrate is not available.

XEN Sandeep Gupta maintained that there are no illegal colonies in the city. This is when no survey of the illegal buildings has been officially conducted. He adds the violators have been issued notice. A few buildings have been demolished. Many violations, very few demolitions, that’s the Bathinda story. 

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