Bhubaneswar: The development authority has two different sets of building plan approval rules for government agencies and private builders.
A plan for construction of a multi-storeyed office building on the premises of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) could not materialise due to objections from the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) in 2010 as the area fell within a "restricted" zone. But a real-estate developer managed to get permission to erect a multi-storeyed structure bang opposite the corporation office.
"It is a strange case. While the BDA sabotaged the plan of the BMC by denying it permission for a four-storeyed structure, it allowed the private builder to have a similar construction," said a senior engineer of the BMC.
After the BMC failed to get approval for the office building, it made unsuccessful attempts to get government land at the Bachelors' Barrack and in Madhusudan Nagar.
While the former plot went to the home department, the latter was used to built the accountant general's office. '
Left with no option, the BMC is planning to demolish its community centre at Unit VIII to construct the office building with an investment of around Rs 100 crore.
The comptroller and auditor general (CAG) of India in its audit report this year had also raised questions as to how the real-estate developer got the BDA nod for its high-rise that fell within 100 metres of NH-203 and is a heritage zone.
The BDA vice-chairman's version in the CAG report says: "While despite stop construction notice the real-estate developer continued to develop the building project, the restriction for heritage zone was lifted through amendment of Planning and Building Standards Regulations.''
It is another matter that the BMC had laid foundation stone for the office building in 2010.
The "restriction" by the BDA to facilitate construction by real-estate developers was, however, lifted during December 2008 and October 2013, the audit report states.
Reacting to the incident, Mayor Ananta Narayan Jena said: "The denial of permission to build the BMC office and grant permission to another developer on a nearby land opposite the road was a case of injustice. But as we are part of the same department it will not be a fair on my part to comment on it.''
Advocate Prabir Das said: "It seems the decision of the BDA varies from case to case. There is hardly any transparency in executing the rules set by the Odisha Development Authority Act, 1982."
Manas Sahoo, a resident of Bhimatangi, said: "While several house owners in our locality are guilty of encroaching upon government land, the BDA people are selective in its and threat to issue demolition orders."
When contacted, present BDA vice-chairman Krishan Kumar said: "Granting of permission or relaxations of rules was not permitted during my tenure. How can I comment on the deeds of someone else?"