COIMBATORE: Building and land approvals might get simpler now thanks to a public interest litigation filed by S Kanagasundaram, Coimbatore-based civic activist, in the high court.
The court has directed the secretaries of department of housing and urban planning, department of rural development and panchayat raj, the director of town and country planning, member secretary of local planning authority and the corporation commissioner to respond to the petition within three months.
Kanagasundaram, in his petition, said that according to the 73rd and 74th amendment of Town and Country Planning Act, 1992, the corporation and local bodies are vested with powers to grant approval. But public are made to run from pillar to post seeking approval from LPA and DTCP also.
"The provisions of Tamil Nadu Town & Country Planning Act that stipulates obtaining 'Planning Permission' from LPA and DTCP is redundant and unconstitutional," said Kanagasundaram. Since people are not aware of the law, they are being misled completely, he added.
When Kanagasundaram, who is a builder by profession, approached the corporation for a building approval, he was asked to approach the Local Planning Authority stating that it was above 4000sqft and he had to get it approved by them. "Then, I was asked to get a no objection certificate from a tahsildhar and asked to attach other ownership documents," he said. "After months passed by and I did not get approval, I started reading about the laws and that is when I realized that I was just being harassed," he said.
"Yes, we have received the high court order that was issued on March 5, but I am yet to receive the judgment copy. There are several government procedures that will have to be implemented and many committees formed which will take time. We are not aware in what stage it is right now," said Ilangovan, town planning officer, Coimbatore corporation. The corporation commissioner was unavailable for comment.
According to the amendment, the government should form ward level committees, metropolitan planning committee and district planning committee comprising elected representatives from the public. Moreover, the functions of LPA are only to grant planning permissions which are of three types - purpose of construction, nature of site and difficulty in developing the area. "They do not have powers to check the size of rooms, look for violations, ask for certificates and other documents," said Kanagasundaram. "All power is with the local body and even the local body will look into the plans and approve them. They also should not ask for certificates and irrelevant documents," he added.
The members of the association of licensed building surveyors said in case of inaction by the civic body, they will resort to non-cooperation and will stop sending approval plans to LPA, themselves. "We will take them to court again," said Velumayil, president of LBS.