Recently the Gujarat government announced relief for the defaulters who failed to follow the construction norms and are yet to obtain the building use permission for their buildings, till March 31, 2022. The authorities gave relief of three months for the building use defaulters, from the last day of Gujarat Epidemic diseases and COVID-19 regulatory measures being applicable. Acknowledging being overburdened with the work and COVID-19 pandemic an official pointed out that they do not want to disturb people’s livelihood in these tough times.
In alignment with the consideration that the epidemic regulations came into effect on March 13, 2020, and extended till December 31, 2021, under the purview of COVID-19 pandemic onset, the erroneous buildings in respect to BU permission will be let off strict actions like sealing, etc. at least till March 31st , 2022.
In a notice released on July 8th, the urban development and urban housing department have also stopped the authorities from acting against the buildings for violation of various development control regulations, including issues such as change of use, margin, height restrictions and those without the valid BU permission, till the time span of three months from the last day of relevancy of the Gujarat Epidemic Diseases and Covid-19 Regulations. However, the department directed all the civic bodies to take “proactive and appropriate measures” to ensure compliance with the BU permission.
Commenting on the notification, additional chief secretary of Urban Development department, Mr. Mukesh Puri said that “The state government, considering the adverse effect of Covid 19 and problems faced in compliance with GDCR norms, has decided not to take any action till March 2022, so that people will have an appropriate amount of time for corrective actions in order to comply with norms. One should understand that the government has not given any leniency in GDCR norms, so there shall not be any compromise in view of ensuring safety of other norms, although more time is given for compliance per se only”.
However, the notification has asked the owners of the buildings without valid BU permission to take corrective measures in order to ensure their compliance with the development control regulations.
Also, the state government has been under constant pressure from the Gujarat high court to develop “a solid solution” for the problem of illegal structures for almost four weeks. In a hearing held on July 9th 2021, the state government presented that it strives to deal with the issue, but the strict and immediate implementation might lead to the demolition of at least 90% of the buildings, as regularisation does not seem feasible for such buildings. However, another option that the government can look up to is to bring an additional impact fee law in order to regularise such constructions.
Lenient approach has been shown by issuing directions under Section 122 of the Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1976. One of the reasons quoted for relaxation, are the restrictive measures posed on construction activities which had adverse effect on the real estate projects across the state.
Moreover, amidst the times when administration is already preoccupied with the work of ensuring effective vaccination and medical infrastructure facilities, tasks such as surveying, assessing buildings in the entire state for non-compliance of development control regulations in general and BU permission is going to be a lengthy, time and resource-consuming exercise.
This issue has several aspects such as construction not carried out in accordance to sanctioned plan, buildings being used for a purpose other than the development permission issued, absence of requisite documents from different agencies and lack of non-renewal of fire NOC.
The notification further said that any default in adhering to these norms, might result in discontinuation of the use of building, which can further adversely affect the economic situation and loss of livelihood.
The government authorities also asserted that it is not in favour of compromising public safety. However, the Covid-19 pandemic situation necessitates saving livelihoods and easing up people’s difficulties in compliance with building bylaws.