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 purposes. 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 too. 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.