Bangalore is one of the fastest growing cities of India. The reasons for such a fast growth could be attributable mainly to the development of I.T. hub, pleasant climatic conditions and better educational and employment opportunities. Because of high influx of people to the city, there is a great demand for house and house sites in Bangalore. This, in turn, has lead to the steep rise in the property values here.
Building bye laws are introduced to regulate construction activities, to prevent construction of buildings in a haphazard manner and to provide better civic amenities. Zoning regulations are also introduced with the same motive and to regulate the land use, control of density of population and to develop the city in an orderly way. However, these building bye-laws and zonal regulations are not strictly followed by the people presumably on the ground that the restrictions imposed are nothing but hindrance in exploitation of the property to the full extent and thereby they construct their buildings at their will. In so doing, they do not mind to forego certain prescribed civic amenities such as having broader roads, playgrounds, parks and other civic amenities.
Broadly, we may classify the violations into three categories viz., violation of Floor Area ratio, violation of site set back and violation of plot coverage. Violation of any one of these three violations would deprive the land owner of completion certificate.
Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R) is prescribed separately for intensely developed area, moderately developed area and sparsely developed area. Earlier, F.A.R. used to be high in more intensely developed central areas in view of land values and lower F.A.R. in the suburbs where land values are less. But presently it is on the reverse pattern and the policy is to fix less F.A.R. in the central area to enable decongestant and higher F.A.R in the suburbs to encourage development where the traffic and other problems are less.
Non-adherence of sanction plan restrictions and set back
The building bye-laws prescribe for certain set backs on sides of the building to facilitate the people to have proper light, ventilation, privacy and to save them from dust and traffic noise. While framing the building bye-laws, the civic authorities also keep in mind the future land requirements for broadening roads. It is noticed that people violate building bye-laws by way of additional floor construction, site set back construction, providing stair case on the site set back area, balcony area to be converted into living rooms.
The Zonal Regulations of the Comprehensive Development Plan of Bangalore prescribe different land uses like; residential, commercial, land for civic amenities etc., for systematic development of the locality. But, it is noticed that the residential buildings situated along the main roads and the roads nearer to commercial area are developed and utilized as commercial property. Even several industries also do crop up in these localities in gross violation of zonal regulations. Similarly, residential or commercial buildings do crop up in civic amenities sites meant for parks, play grounds, schools, green belt areas etc.
Sanction Plan for additional constructions
If a part of the building is constructed with deviations, the owners of such property hesitate to approach the plan sanctioning authorities whenever they intend to put up further construction on the property for approval of sanction plans for the reason that deviations will be noticed during inspection by these authorities and thereby proceed to make further construction without the sanction plan. Such people try to develop rapport with the concerned municipal authorities and put up additional constructions without sanction plan.
The reason for violation of building bye-laws and sanction plans by the people is that most of the land owners/builders want to exploit their land to an optimum extent because the residential and commercial properties do fetch high return. Presently, in Bangalore there is a steep rise in land value, say Rs.5,000/- per sq.ft. on an average.
In a large number of cases, deviations and violations take place with the active support of the officials and the local politicians. Only in rare cases when it is brought to the notice of the competent authority of deviations, action would be initiated by the concerned authorities against which action the land owners knock the doors of the courts and in many such cases courts do grant stay. Thereupon, the building owners do enjoy the property for long period despite violation of the bye-laws since it would take long time for the court to dispose of the matter.
Violation of bye-laws, deviations of sanction plan, zonal regulations etc., cannot be allowed to be continued for long since it is an unhealthy trend. Therefore, the following suggestions may help in curbing violations of the bye-laws etc.
The building byelaws and zonal regulations of the Comprehensive Development Plan should be user friendly and acceptable to the majority of the public. Further, the byelaws should not consist of too many technical jargons but should be simple to enable the common man to understand and follow. Byelaws should be suitable to the local conditions failing which there would be violation of such laws.
When once user friendly building byelaws with simplified procedure for sanction of building plans are introduced, there should be deterrent punishment if the property owners deliberately deviate from the sanctioned plan or construct their buildings without the sanction of the competent authority. It may be kept in mind that unless strict enforcement of the zonal regulations and building bye-laws is carried out in letter and spirit, there is every likelihood of people violating even the user friendly bye laws.
Construction of a building generally takes not less than a year. During this time, frequent visit by the concerned area engineer and supervisor to find out whether the construction is according to sanction plan etc., would prevent violations of the regulations by the land owners. Instead of this, the municipal authorities conduct raids after several years of such construction putting the people to a great hardship and embarrassment. To avoid such a situation, strict enforcement of visit by the concerned engineer must be introduced and if any deviations are noticed later on, the concerned engineer should be made accountable for allowing such deviations and action initiated against him for dereliction of his official duty.
Imposition of heavy penalty for deviations
As a one time relief, for the existing buildings all deviations in building bye-laws, plans and zonal regulations could be permitted with different slabs of penalty for such violations. The higher the violation, more the penalty. Once user friendly bye-laws are introduced, there should be no leniency whatsoever and every deviation should be punished with severe penalty.
The building bye laws need revision whenever there is change in the C.D.P. of the city. The committee constituted to prepare the bye laws should comprise of not only the experts in the field but also the different sections of the public so that the matter could get debated from different angles before arriving at a conclusion. Thereupon, the draft bye laws should be circulated amongst the public to solicit the views and suggestions from people of different walks of life. The print and visual media can play a greater role in this regard. A team of technical officials consisting of town planners, architects, and civil engineers can be formed to educate the people on the need for adherence of the byelaws while at the same enlightening the public of the punishment for violations. Similarly, area committees consisting of revered citizens and the representative of the residents welfare associations may be constituted to monitor violations.