CHENNAI: The fire at Chennai Silks in T Nagar could have been averted if the State government had implemented rules under Section 113-C of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1971 to regularise or grant amnesty to illegal buildings built before July 2007, according to Madras High Court-appointed Monitoring Committee member MG Devasahayam. “If the rules had been implemented, the building would have been sealed under the provisions,” he said.
The rules for Section 113-C have been framed by Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) in consultation with the monitoring committee, following orders of Madras High Court after it struck down earlier rules.
It is learned that 25 buildings, including the Chennai Silks building, on Usman Road in T Nagar, which are unauthorised, will fail relaxations that have been provided under Section 113-C, as none of them have complied with fire safety norms, according to CMDA sources.
The entire T Nagar area was a residential zone, and a section of traders in T Nagar have sought reclassification of area, where large-scale illegal constructions are situated, to commercial zone and pass a special Government Order to legalise buildings.
Interestingly, Usman Road is part of the T Nagar Smart City. Around 1,717 acres of the area was selected for development under area-based development, a component of smart city, with an estimated outlay of `878 crore.
Chennai Silks was facing demolition in 2006
The Chennai Silks building was facing demolition in 2006 after a SC order, according to information available with Express. The demolition was carried out stage-by- stage, but demolished portions were re-built by the owner.
It was in 2007 that an ordinance was passed by the State government, which gave a lifeline to unauthorised buildings wherein punitive actions against all unauthorised developments were suspended. This ordinance was passed by a State government committee, headed by Supreme Court judge S Mohan, to look into all aspects of development.
Just when unauthorised developments were to face the axe again, the Government came up with Section 113-C, and later formed a committee under Justice Rajeshwaran, after Madras High Court struck down rules of regularising illegal buildings while upholding the amendment to the act.