Politics

Need-based changes in CHB units to be allowed only if feasible and structurally safe, says UT Adviser


Need based changes will be allowed only if there is feasibility said UT Adviser Dharam Pal, speaking to The Indian Express, on Sunday. For long, the city residents have been urging the UT Administration to regularise need-based changes undertaken in the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) units.

“Only if the need-based changes are feasible and structurally safe, they will be allowed. A committee has been constituted to check if the need-based changes done by the people are feasible or not,” said UT Adviser Dharam Pal.

In a meeting held last week to discuss Chandigarh’s master plan, the UT officials had also informed UT Administrator Banwarilal Purohit about the issue of need-based changes raised by the residents.
Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Housing Board in its board meeting held last month had expressed reluctance and not granted a clear go-ahead to adopting the Delhi pattern of regularising violations done by the CHB allottees. Rather, a committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Chandigarh Housing Board, with members of Chandigarh Administration departments, was constituted.

OFFICERS HAD said UT VULNERABLE TO EARTHQUAKES
An agenda brought up before the board last month specified that Chandigarh is already highly vulnerable to earthquakes, which cannot be compared to Delhi.

“Regarding the requests to allow one-time settlement for all the existing violations and to follow the Delhi Pattern, where some of the violations were regularised on payment of certain composition fee, it is submitted that Chandigarh is a planned city with a unique architecture character and may not be comparable with Delhi. Also, Chandigarh has high vulnerability to earthquakes as it lies in Seismic Zone-IV and unauthorized violations may pose a threat to the human life and public property,” specified the agenda.

It was also said that “it may lead to issues with regard to basic requirements like light, ventilation, zoning of the area, street picture and stability of the existing structure, among others… Some of the citizens have raised voice against allowing further need-based changes, saying that regularisation of violations gives undue incentives for further violations and adversely affects the quality of life in residential areas,” it said.

The issue of regularisation of building violations in CHB flats and one-time settlement on Delhi Pattern was also raised during the last meeting of the Administrator’s Advisory Council on February 10, and numerous requests and representations were also received.

Most of the violations in the CHB units are in the nature of additional floors, additional rooms, extra washrooms, extension of kitchen, extended/extra balconies and other alterations. Further, a considerable number of allottees have projected cantilevers on the government land and constructed balcony, stairs and bathrooms on such projected cantilevers.

Earlier, a detailed exercise was undertaken by the Chandigarh Housing Board to cover maximum possible violations in consultation with the Engineering and Architect Divisions of the Administration. The recommendations of a special committee was examined by the Chandigarh Administration and certain need-based changes were allowed vide order No. 59 dated February 15, 2019.

Meanwhile, the submission of structural certificate and revised plans from the empanelled architects or structural engineers, along with payment of charges, have been prescribed for regularisation of some of the Need-Based Changes. These changes have been allowed in relaxation of Chandigarh Building Rules (Urban), 2017, with the approval of the Governor of Punjab and UT Administrator.

STUDY SAID ALTERATIONS NOT SAFE
The Chandigarh Housing Board had given its nod to need-based changes in its dwelling units despite a report– prepared by consultants roped in to assess structural stability– specifying that the alterations made do not satisfy the basic seismic requirements, which make these dwelling units highly vulnerable to earthquakes. The need-based changes were to be approved only after ascertaining structural stability of the dwelling units.

Punjab Engineering College was hired to assess the structural stability of the same, while the study was conducted by Civil Engineering Department. In a confidential report accessed by The Indian Express, it was found that these changes do not satisfy basic seismic requirements and certain specifications were required to qualify for requirements that are crucial to ensure structural stability of a building.

The report said, “The existing buildings of Chandigarh Housing Board under evaluation for alterations do not satisfy seismic requirements even for category B of masonry buildings. As such, all additions and alterations to the present structures do not satisfy seismic requirements under present conditions and hence, need to be strengthened in accordance with relevant provisions of IS 4326-2013. As per IS 4326-2013, various masonry buildings have been categorised as B, C, D and E.”

Just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections of 2019, the BJP had announced regularisation of the need-based changes, as made in nearly 50,000 CHB units by the residents. Approval of need-based changes was a poll issue this time as it affected people living in all these units, who also constitute a major vote bank. These residents had flouted rules by making alterations in these units.

A survey of 61,067 CHB dwelling units revealed that 90 per cent people made changes to their units.



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