HYDERABAD: Though unauthorized conversion of residential properties for commercial exploitation and illegal constructions are unabated in up-market areas like Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) seems to be turning a blind eye.
Commercial activity in residential areas has been on the rise along with illegal constructions mainly due to proximity to Hi-Tec City and also posh colonies. Several multi-national companies and cinema production houses have set up their offices while others have converted their residences to guest houses in these areas, where special regulations are in place.
Some time ago, All India Service officer Pushpa Subramanyam, who stays in Prashasan Nagar in Jubilee Hills, had lodged a complaint with the corporation against her neighbour and another civil servant Alok Prabhakar for renting out his building to a software company. The corporation had issued a customary notice to the officer based on the complaint only to consign it to the dustbin later. It’s not an isolated case as several other buildings in Prashasan Nagar have been illegally converted for commercial use.
As per building rules and GHMC Act, commercial activity is allowed only on certain specified commercial roads. So far, 66 roads in the city have declared commercial roads, including Road No. 36 and 78 in Jubilee Hills, Road Nos. 1, 2 and 12 in Banjara Hills. However, commercial activity has been on the rise on non-commercial roads like Road No. 45, Jubilee Hills, and Road No. 10, Banjara Hills.
GHMC officials admit illegal conversion of buildings is prevailing in other areas of the city like Marredpally in Secunderabad. However, it is more prevalent in these two areas mainly due to high rental value.
Apart from illegal usage of buildings for commercial purposes, the official sources said owners have been paying property tax as per residential rates. As per the rules, commercial property attract more tax than the residential buildings.
Incidentally, GHMC had conducted a survey in 2011 which revealed that about 25 buildings were being used for non-residential purposes.
“Special building regulations are in vogue in Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills where G+2 floors (up to 10 metres height) are allowed. But some builders and owners, including civil servants, raised additional floors without taking approval from the civic body,” an official of the GHMC town planning wing said.
The AP High Court on December 16 directed the corporation to file in four weeks a counter on petitions filed on illegal usage of buildings for commercial purposes as also unauthorized constructions in the two areas, especially Road No. 22, Jubilee Hills.
“The GHMC will file a common counter on steps being taken by the corporation to prevent unauthorized usage of residential buildings for commercial purposes soon,” GHMC chief city planner GV Raghu told TOI.