Friday, December 17, 2010

Saving our cities from haphazard construction

There are blatant violations of Heritage laws and Coastal Zone Regulations throughout the country, including in Mumbai.
For instance, in Mumbai, builders often get permissions using the Development Control Regulations of 1967, even though the D.C. Regulations of 1991 are the applicable ones.
Moreover, many amendments, deletions and additions to the rules are introduced by the builders through government notifications that are not publicised or even available for suggestions and objections before consideration by government. The passed notifications are not even put up on government websites (e.g.: MCGM's) even ages after being passed, despite this being explicitly required under the RTI Act. Similarly, the notifications are not even publicised through newspaper advertisements, which are otherwise, on a daily basis, full of irrelevant government tender announcements.
Even when a blatant violation starts happening in front of our eyes (e.g. as is happening currently on Marine Drive in Mumbai), it is difficult for ordinary citizens to sift through and understand the voluminous and complex construction laws to try and figure out what the various violations are. By the time citizens figure out the illegalities of the issue, construction has been on continuously on the ground, and the illegal building comes up. All such illegal constructions are then 'regularised' in India, as no one has the guts to demolish them.
Since most of such projects involve powerful people such as builders, politicians and even bureaucrats, they often muzzle the media which buckle due to political pressure, social contacts, advertising revenues, and private treaties. Thus even investigative journalists who uncover such stories are unable to publicise them .
We thus wish to compile a list of organisations and individuals who work in the area of heritage, coastal regulation, and town planning, so that citizens and citizen groups can contact them for advice. Please email us your name, location and contact details if you fit into these categories.
Please also share your views on this subject or observed violations via .
Incidentally, CNN-IBN, IBN Lokmat and CNBC Awaaz are today showing a programme on "Heritage and Regulations in Mumbai".
Vinay -- individuals are a nation's pillars
PS: Read over 40 Marine Drive memories at . What's yours?
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