Property Advocate Article Regarding “UNAUTHORISED DEVELOPMENTS”

(property advocates in Bangalore, property lawyers in Bangalore)

Unauthorized developments may be classified as unauthorized layouts, unauthorized buildings, and building deviations. Unauthorized developments take place when the demand for sites/houses is not fulfilled, unreasonable  planning regulations, complicated official procedures, high official  charges for approval, high unofficial expenditure, the greed of land owners / developers to make quick easy money, political interferences, long time taken for court decisions, etc.  All these problems are to betackled and promotional atmosphere is to be created. The land lords / developers/ officials who violate norms should be quickly prosecuted to make them aware that they are not allowed to go scot free if unauthorized developments are carried out. The general opinion is that in Mumbai  procedures are simple, less harassment, better control, and land owners/ developers follow procedures.

 In Bangalore the position is bad due to rapid expansion of City, heavy demand,  and good returns on real estate investments. Two lakhs and odd applications received by BDA for sites in Arkavathi Layout proves the high demand for sites. The number of encroachments in Arkavathi and High- Tech City schemes of BDA and 99% of building violations in 87 buildings of Koramangala are examples to prove that the situation in Bangalore is bad. Another attraction in Bangalore is higher F.A.R up to 2.50 whereas the maximum F.A.R in Mumbai City is 1.30. Inspite of higher F.A.R in Bangalore buildings come up with  additional floor area, additional floors, conversion of parking space, and conversion of open balconies. This is due to lack of enforcement by the civic agencies like B.D.A , B.M.P. and the municipalities.

 Unauthorized layouts :

Unauthorized layouts are those layouts which are formed on  agricultural lands without conversion of the agricultural land for non –agricultural purpose under the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, or without layout approval from the Development Authority / Planning Authority. such layouts are formed in Green Belt. The sites in these layouts are called revenue sites. Advertisements are made in the news papers about availability of D.C converted sites. These are sites in land converted by the Deputy Commissioner for non-agricultural purpose but the layout is formed without approval of Development Authority /Planning Authority. In some cases layout is approved but formed completely changing the layout pattern. In some layouts parks and civic amenities are converted in to sites. There are layouts where the road widths are reduced and sital area increased.

The general public are not aware of the procedures for formation of layouts and hence purchase the revenue sites. The revenue sites developers show the ignorant buyers conversion order, katha, and tax paid receipts issued illegally by village panchayats and municipalities.

As the authorities and Government were not serious in controlling      unauthorized  layouts, many unauthorized layouts were formed with the hope that sites in such layouts will get regularized by collecting meagre amount as betterment charges which is about Rs.100/- per sq mtr. After collecting, the City corporation and the city municipalities spend the amount for their general expenditure. Improvement works are taken up after many years and people in such layouts suffer without proper roads, water supply, under ground drainage and civic amenities. BESCOM provides electrical connections even in unauthorized layouts, which is bad. BESCOM should not give electrical connections to unauthorized sites to discourage unauthorized layouts. Government may have to issue a strict circular to KPTCL  not to provide electrical connections to revenue sites unless NOC’s are issued by Development Authority/ Planning Authority.

Government’s ban on registration of sites without conversion or without approval of layout by development Authority / planning Authority w.e.f 06.05.2005 may discourage purchase of sites in revenue layouts and revenue layout formation. Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act was amended  to provide for prosecution of promoters for developments  made without  approval of the planning authority. This will have to be strictly followed to discourage unauthorized layouts / developments. It is to be made clear by Government that conversion orders are to be insisted by sub-registrars  in cases where survey numbers are mentioned in the property documents and not for old municipal sites like; Malleswaram, Basavangudi, Chamarajpet, Cantonment localities etc which were formed during British regime. These extensions were formed by the Bangalore City Municipality and the question of producing conversion orders does not arise.

Unauthorized buildings. :

Unauthorized buildings are those which are built without sanction of building plan from the municipal authority.  Buildings sanctioned illegally by municipalities and village panchayats in unauthorized layouts are also unauthorized as per interpretation of the courts. The Supreme Court in the Judgment on high-rise buildings case of Bangalore (M.D. Narayana Vs Bangalore City Corporation and others) held that the buildings sanctioned by the Bangalore City Corporation in violation of the Zoning Regulations of the Master Plan are illegal and the additional floors sanctioned may be demolished. It is held that it is the responsibility of the owners of buildings to obtain building sanction strictly according to Zoning Regulations / Building Byelaws. The owners of such buildings cannot say that as the building is sanctioned by the city corporation / municipality, the buildings are authorized and legal.

Many people/ builders/ architects are not aware of this legal interpretation. Buyers of buildings/ flats may have to note this point. It is common to see sanction of buildings by the village panchayats even  in municipal areas. The erstwhile HAL Sanitary Board used to sanction buildings violating the regulations and byelaws without any scrutiny. Manipal Hospital on Airport Road is one such building sanctioned by the HAL Sanitary Board. Many people deliberately get such sanctions and build as there is no restriction on set backs or floor area etc in such sanctions. The village level officials are not punished for such illegal building sanctions. BDA has powers to demolish buildings sanctioned by the village panchayats. There is a Task Force in BDA  with police,  revenue and engineering officials to prevent all unauthorized layouts / buildings in them Metropolitan Area of Bangalore. But nothing happens and thousands of unauthorized developments take place in Bangalore. Clearance of BDA in the form of Commencement Certificate is required under the Town Planning Act to see that developments are not violating approved land use, road pattern etc. This procedure which is followed in Hubli- Dharwad and other cities is not followed in Bangalore.

 Building Deviations :

Violation of land use in buildings is very common. Unauthorized commercial buildings are built on roads with heavy traffic, main roads, approach roads to localities, road junctions etc. No action is taken by BDA, BMP, and the municipalities. Only when petition against such land use violations are filed in the High Court, action is taken on such buildings. we have recently come across violation of land use in 87 buildings in Koramangala surveyed as per directions of High Court. 99 % of the buildings here violated land use by converting residential sites/ buildings to commercial use. The High Court issued directions on 01.09.2005 to remove the buildings violating land use and remove the deviations made violating sanctioned plans.

Such directions by the High Court in petitions by affected citizens and civic concious people may discourage such violations in future. BMP has Junior Engineers / Asst. Engineers,  Asst. Exe. Engineers in each MLA constituency, and Executive Engineers, Superintending Engineers, Chief Engineers, and Enginer – in- Chief.  What action they have taken when 99% of the surveyed buildings were put up in violation of land use and regulations. Are they helpless spectators? How many lakhs of buildings have come up in various wards of BMP?, these are the questions to be answered by the City Corporation and BDA.

What action BDA Town Planning officials have taken when they observed such violations during their inspections in Koramangala.

When law abiding citizens request approvals on merit and as per rule, will they get approvals easily without harassment? If agencies do not take actions on land use and building violations ,the High Court may come to the rescue of law abiding citizens to enable planned development of the rapidly growing Bangalore City.

Apart from land use violations, the other violation made is reduction or not leaving  set backs, building more floor area by extending the building over the set backs ,or some times by building additional floors without sanction.

Parking space in basements of commercial buildings are converted denying the occupants parking facilities and increasing parking problem  in that area.  Conversion of parking spaces in basements are made even on important roads like; M.G. Road, Brigade Road, Commercial Street, St.Marks Road, Gandhi Nagar etc. Such complexes have come up in front of Corporation engineering offices also. The occupants of such complexes and other persons affected should file petitions in the High Court similar to the Koramangala case. As otherwise, parking problem and traffic problems may increase making living in the City miserable. Already the traffic situation is so bad that it takes hours for employed people to reach their houses.

Another type of violation made is conversion of open balconies as additional floor area. Builders get more profits in such conversions.

Some press reports have given details of land use and other violations in the Country’s capital, Delhi. Times of India , New Delhi dated 28-09-2005 reported that seven residential colonies with 70% industries are being regularized. Three months time is given to them to form societies and submit layout plans for regularization. It is stated that shops and go downs are treated as industry. This is wrong according to classification in Town Planning regulations. No manufacturing and service industry activity is involved in shops and go downs. These two may be allowed as permissible uses in industrial zone and not as industries as reported in the news paper.

It is also reported in that paper that 26 other colonies with similar violations have applied for regularization. It is stated that the Union Urban Development Ministry have decided to regularize these colonies. Urban Development Ministry which is expected to promote planned development has come down to the level of municipalities. The intention seems to be vote catching.

In another report of Times of India, New Delhi edition dated 28-09-2005, it is stated that in the posh Vasanth Vihar area rampant commercialization is observed. The Delhi High Court has directed the official of Municipal Corporation of Delhi to visit the area every day till the next hearing. The violator of the building should appear before the Municipal Magistrate every day. The Electricity Authority of Delhi was directed by the High Court not to give permanent connections to 47 buildings where Completion certificates are not produced. Demolition orders are passed in respect of 30 buildings inVasanth Vihar area. The unoccupied portions of the buildings  are sealed and the occupants in the other portions directed to vacate to take up demolitions.

In Bangalore City also with large scaleviolations, such drastic actions are required to be taken in the interest of improving quality of life in the City.

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