Manner of implementation of safety codes & building regularization gives flip to unauthorized construction : CAG


The Comptroller and Audit General (CAG) report observed that extent of (Retention) Polices and manner of implementation of safety codes and building regulations by the Town and Country Planning had given fill in to unauthorized construction as CAG pointed out that with every retention policy there is increasing tend in the number of encroachment applying for the regularization.


The polices were to regularize the irregular buildings in the State having additional stories, deviation in setbacks, under size  plots, lacks of standard width paths and deviation from the approved plan. Principal Accountant General (Audit) Himachal Pradseh Mr. Ram Mohan Johri told Himvani that the State Government came with first retention polices to regularize the construction in notified planning areas of various civic bodies including Shimla and received as many 747 applications in 1997. In second policy announced in year 1999 number of application went upto 602, followed by 899 in 2000, 665 in 2002, 929 in 2004 and 1307 ion 2009 respectively. It had went up to 9007 as TCP come out with latest policy in 2016 (not covered under the CAG para).


Mr. Johri pointed out that under six retention polices framed by the state between 1997 to 2009 as many as 5149 cases of said unauthorized construction were received for regularization. The State gave approval in 2106 cases after waiving off the TCP norms amending some provisions to make change in structural norms and charging compounding fee. About 3043 remaining cases of this period were rejected because they were found exceeding the permissible limit allowed under the respective polices.


”Department of TCP and respective urban bodies failed to take action on such unauthorized or haphazard construction till Oct 2016 when it came up with the new policy.” report emphasized. Report warns that such structures now poses a grave threat to life and property in case of earthquake. CAG pointed out that ineffective enforcement of regulations enabled flourishing of unauthorized construction of buildings which was subsequently regularized by payment of fines jeopardizing provisions of quick relief and assistance in the event of any calamity.


Moreover Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning (TCP) rules provides that maximum acceptable slope for construction of building should be 45 degrees however report found that most of buildings were made above 75 degree slopes make such construction more vulnerable to inhabitants. The report further said that 2459 buildings constructed in the cemetery of Sanjauli, Krishana Nagar, Kangnadhar and others areas of Shimla during 2011-16 blatantly flout the this norms as state agencies did not acted to stop such construction.


Due to non-action of state agencies said haphazard construction of building come up leaving no space for providing relief (at 75 to 90 degree slopes ) works which could leads high causalities during the disaster. “If any body would enters to provide relief and rehabilitation in  such construction he would not able to save him-selves owing the haphazard constriction at very high gradient.” CAG reported. Data relating such construction reveals that no mechanism to inspect and ascertain the number of authorized construction exists however Shimla MC established a control room for public to lodge complaints.


SMC recorded 526 cases of unauthorized construction during 2011-16 and the SMC effected recovery on  72 cases while 454 were lying pending till July 2016. State 2011 censuses established that  there are about 14.77 lakh houses in the state including 1.66 lakh in urban and 13.11 lakh in rural areas. State utterly failed to implement the section of Disaster Management Act 2005 for construction standards and status of houses in the state as 89 percent total houses in  the rural areas are yet to covered under the section leaving the inhabitants posed to high risk in event of disaster.


Report found that there are about 2.65 Lakh mud and un-burnt brick wall, 5.12 lakh stone wall and 6.50 Burnt brick wall houses. Out of 3243 gram panchayats  consisting of about 20,960 villages in the state baring Kullu district, no Village Level Disaster Management Committee (VDMC) were established in the State. CAG also pointed out that state agencies lack of relevant data about the safety of state lifelines buildings.


Under State Disaster Management Project (SDMP) state have to make functional the Building Safety Cell (BSC) to act as advisory cell for state government and serve as consultants to the SDMA for ‘retro fitting of lifeline buildings’ such as hospitals, schools and office building, Non functional BSC neither gave any advice regarding safety aspects nor identified lifeline buildings for the retro fitting till June 2016. Terming the state policy on  Disaster Management disastrous in itself report said that no training on mass causality management, trauma care and emergency medicines had been imparted to doctors and para medicals staff at June 2016.

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ML Verma is a Senior journalist, with more than a decade of experience of active reporting for electronic media, news agencies and fast paced online media.

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