Elections are round the corner, and political parties have begun playing populist cards to appease voters. All party corporators in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) are thinking of scrapping the decision to impose fine to regularise unauthorised constructions and grant occupancy certificate.
In May this year all parties had unanimously supported and approved the proposal in the General Body (GB) meeting. As per the decision, the civic administration has started imposing a fine to regularise constructions according to the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act, 1966.
“There are many discrepancies in the decision taken by the GB under influence of the then municipal commissioner. Common citizens have to pay a heavy fine to obtain occupancy certificates as the PMC is imposing fine on citizens and not on builders,” said one of the senior Congress corporators.
“We are under immense pressure from citizens. This issue will snowball into a major issue ahead of the February 2012 elections. Before the election code of conduct is imposed in December we want to come to a final conclusion,” said a group of corporators pushing to scrap the decision.
The original proposal, tabled by former municipal commissioner Mahesh Zagade, had stated that a fine should be imposed based on the total cost of the construction according to the ready reckoner rate. The proposal was later amended to impose a fine according to the total construction cost of the building.
According to the approved proposal, to regularise one illegal residential tenement in use without a completion certificate, the owners will now have to pay a fine of 20 per cent of the total construction cost. To regularise illegal constructions built without permission, the fine will be 50 per cent of the construction cost for residential buildings and 70 per cent for commercial buildings.
To acquire the occupancy certificate to regularise constructions with less than 650 sq ft carpet area, owners will have to pay a fine of Rs 10,000, while for constructions with carpet area between 651 and 1,000 sq ft, the fine will be Rs 15,000. For constructions with carpet area of more then 1,000 sq ft the fine will be Rs 20,000. “Why should citizens pay heavy fines to get occupancy certificate? The PMC should hold the builder responsible for the unauthorised construction,” said a BJP corporator.
Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch said, “The PMC notification also mentions that the civic body should stop ongoing projects of builders who have not sought completion certificates for the buildings they have completed earlier. The PMC should initiate action as hundreds of housing societies in the city stand without a completion certificate. Common citizens alone should not be targeted.”
In January 2011, Zagade had tabled the proposal stating that builders and developers start constructions without seeking PMC permissions and then later apply to regularise the construction using provisions in the MRTP Act, which allows regularisation of such constructions, after paying a fine. Considering the frequent use of this provision, the proposal looked at increasing the fine, so that such constructions do not take place at all.
The civic administration, however, is firm on the decision. “The decision was taken by the GB and the civic administration is implementing the decision. This decision has proved a deterrent against illegal constructions. We have already acquired a heavy fine from a prominent developer. The MRTP Act provision was used as an excuse and the PMC wanted to curb the misuse,” said additional municipal commissioner Naresh Zurmure.