BHUBANESWAR: The Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has mastered the art of bending its own regulations. There is one set of interpretation for the high and mighty and another it doesn’t want to help. It can even manipulate the regulation in someone’s favour.
The case in point is Additional Chief Secretary Taradatt, who was recently shunted out as the Director, Gopabandhu Academy of Administration. The BDA did not waste any time to regularise a non-compoundable deviation in his house at Niladri Vihar whereas his immediate neighbour is battling a Vigilance probe for the last three years over a compoundable deviation.
A gross deviation, which as per BDA’s admission “is not compoundable in nature” and should be demolished, has been regularised in case of Taradatt’s house. The BDA authorities, in their urgency to provide relief to the senior bureaucrat, who headed the Task Force to probe into alleged allotments of plots and houses by the development authority, Housing Board and GA Department under discretionary quota, not only overlooked the compoundable limit which is over 20 per cent of the side setback and did not levy penalty for the aberration but also approved it. This despite a clear-cut note from the BDA Member Planning that the deviation committed by Taradatt is not compoundable in nature.
Interestingly, while this note was based on the report of the field staff after physical verification on the application of the officer for regularisation of the deviation in the portico and the room above it, the Member Planning’s note was cleverly silent on many aspects that would have otherwise led to demolition instead of regularisation.
The application of Taradatt, dated August 5, 2014, three days after he was notified as the head of the Task Force, sought regularisation of a portico which rests on the boundary wall on the left side and not within the setback area. The dimension of the deviation in terms of width and length as prescribed by Building Regulations is violative too.
When the case was placed before the Development Plan and Building Plan (DP&BP) Committee for approval on November 13, 2014, the points made by the Member Planning in the agenda was completely ignored, facts were suppressed and dimension was manipulated to accord approval.
As per the Building Regulations 38 (2) and (3) which deal with exemption in open space, a portico/garage should not rest on the boundary wall and access to its top should not affect the privacy of the neighbouring plot. This clearly defines that the top of the portico should be open. The most valid point under the Regulations is that a portico or garage with open access to the rear may be permitted “within the setback”. “In case the portico is not a cantilevered one and supported by pillars, the area shall be included in Floor Area Ratio (FAR)”.
If the deviation in portico in the ground floor and the room above is taken from nil setback on the left side, in this case the deviation is well beyond 20 per cent and adds another 238 sq ft built-up space to the FAR which BDA authorities chose to ignore.
The approval was accorded on the ground that the length of the portico is within the permissible 20 per cent deviation, which again is a manipulation of facts and figures. What was shown as the length is physically the width. All that BDA suggested by way of payment for regularisation is a sanction fee, which is mandatory for approval of any plan or deviation thereof and `2,000 as a fee to retain a temporary shed in the rear side of the plot.
The preferential treatment of BDA to the Task Force chief becomes all the more galling in the context of his neighbour seeking regularisation of deviation in his building which is well within the permissible 20 per cent limit, but has not found BDA’s favour for the last three years. The issue has been gathering dust in the State Vigilance which is inquiring into the alleged favour shown to him by the BDA officials while approving his plan.