Can a building termed as illegal be reclassified?

Experts say loophole in reclassifying land use plan may legalise illegal buildings in TN

Published: 02nd October 2019 06:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd October 2019 06:20 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Can a building, which was termed as illegal and issued a lock-and-seal notice, be reclassified from residential building to commercial structure after the land use plan is changed? While there may be a provision to it through the appeals committee of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, experts and activists feel this move could be dangerous as it legalises unauthorised constructions.

The issue pertains to a building located on Rangan Street in T Nagar wherein the owner has submitted an application for re-classification of the plot, which has been marked as the primary residential use zone as per the second Master Plan of the Chennai Metropolitan Area, to commercial use zone for the construction of office building.

Various associations including the T Nagar Residents Welfare Association have alleged the owner of the building has appealed for reclassification of the building to the commercial zone while the CMDA has already issued lock-and-seal and demolition notices for the building. It is learnt that the CMDA has taken on record the owner’s application which residents claim is blatantly illegal.

But, a former planner says that technically, the builder can approach the appeals committee to reclassify the land use and then, again move the committee to get the building reclassified. He says the rules are bent and illegal constructions are  legalised. The real culprit is the conditional approval given by the CMDA. “In 90 per cent of cases pertaining to multi-storeyed buildings, approval is conditional wherein the construction will have already started,” he alleges. The appeals committee should reclassify the land use only after ensuring that the building constructed is not unauthorised or does not violate development control rules.

KP Subramanian, a former professor of Urban Engineering in Anna University, says that if the building has not been regularised, then the move to reclassify it and land use is illegal. “Buildings violating rules can’t be considered for any relaxation,” he says. When Express tried to reach out to a top CMDA official, he refused to comment. Meanwhile, residents have opposed the land use plan of residential area being changed to commercial area. “A residential area could not be sandwiched between commercial buildings,” a T Nagar resident said.

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