Almost decade later, building rules notified

Paul Fernandes, TNN, Sep 14, 2010, 03.39am IST

PANAJI: Group housing units and multi-storied buildings will face stringent
action in future if they misuse parking space for commercial and other

After nearly a decade, the government finally notified the Goa Land
Development and Building Construction Regulations, 2010, on September 9. The
new rules seek to wrap up under one package provisions related to building
and construction activity scattered in various other Acts. These include the
Goa Town and Country Planning Act, 1974, Goa Municipal Act, 1968 (bylaws),
Goa Panchayati Raj Act, 1994,City of Panaji Corporation Act, 2002, and
various regulations of the planning and development authority ( PDA),
sources said.

"The concept of post-occupancy audit has been introduced for the first time
to prevent misuse of parking space," Morad Ahmad, chief town planner, town
and country planning (TCP) department said.

Explaining further, he said licensing authorities, PDAs, municipal councils
and village panchayats will have to carry out random inspections of
buildings within five years after construction to check for any violations
of the approved plans. "If any deviation is found, the parking area will be
cleared of any structure and restored for parking purpose only," said Ahmad.

Architects, structural engineers and surveyors will also come under the
scanner for any violations during development and construction. "If any
deviation from the plan designed by the architect and on record is noticed,
he (the architect) will be held responsible for the violation and his
registration can be at stake," senior town planner S T Puttaraju said.

The roles of civil engineer, structural engineer and other professionals
have also been clearly defined and a system of imposing fines for violations
has been introduced for the first time. If a consultant engineer or surveyor
shows the wrong contour of a hill slope, he/she will be held responsible

Professionals across the board feel the new provisions can help curb
irregularities. "The provisions will bring about accountability among
architects and others," said reputed architect Dean D'Cruz.

Tulio de Souza, member of the national executive of the Indian Institute of
Architects, however, pointed out, "The audit is welcome, but some issues,
especially enforcement, remain unclear. Why should TCP point fingers at
panchayats and municipalities to take action when it (TCP) grants approvals
under the new Act?"

Meanwhile, the audit for violations of parking space or any other deviations
will commence effectively from the date of issue of occupancy henceforward,
said officials.

"Stilt parking at any level can be provided by the developer within the
building, be it the ground floor or any other floor, and this clause is
expected to ensure its non diversion to commercial uses," Puttaraju said.

The planning and development authorities, municipal councils and village
panchayats will have to issue notices to the owners and developers to raze
any illegal structures in space meant for parking. "Any change of use of
building or part thereof other than parking, which obstructs space for
circulation and movement of vehicles as shown by them in the plans will have
to be cleared," Ahmad said.

The licence issued for any shop or for any other trade in the parking area
will be cancelled by the authorities, he added.

The regulations have also been updated by incorporating national codes to
improve structural and strategic safety of buildings to cope with disasters.
"Extracts from national building codes on quake mitigation, fire
regulations, barrier-free conditions for physically handicapped persons, and
central regulations notified from time to time, concept of green buildings
are incorporated in these regulations," Ahmad explained.

While the new rules are part of the Goa Land Development and Building
Construction Act, 2008, the process for formulating a uniform set of rules
was initiated in 2001 during chief minister Digambar Kamat's tenure then as
urban development minister. "These (too many scattered regulations) resulted
in lack of control, overlapping of powers and divided responsibility,"
Puttaraju said.

While the steering committee headed by Kamat commenced its work then, the
process was involved in legal tangles for some time. After Kamat became
chief minister in 2007, the process was revived, sources said.

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