Illegal constructions: MCD battles charge of laxity

MCD took action against only half of the unauthorised properties it booked in the last two years.

New Delhi: As it faces flak over proliferation of illegal constructions following the east Delhi house collapse, it emerged on Thursday that MCD took action against only half of the unauthorised properties it booked in the last two years.

"We booked 9,568 properties since October 2008, among which action was taken against 5,000," Municipal Commissioner KS Mehra told reporters adding, during the same period the MCD also acted against 10,000 "ongoing constructions".

Mehra also admitted that despite announcing that a panel of structural engineers would be formed to detect unsafe buildings after a house collapse in Brahmapuri in east Delhi in July, the MCD is yet to do so.

"We tried to form such a panel but it got delayed as there was limited response... we did not get enough qualified people. Now a shortlist has been made and it will be formed soon. It is under process," he said.

Leader of Opposition JK Sharma alleged that local-level officials of the civic body take bribes to allow unauthorized constructions. "They have a rate chart like a hotel menu...the bribe amount increases according to height of the building," he alleged.
Facing a volley of questions about corrupt and tainted officials in the MCD Building Department, the Commissioner said, "Whenever there is a complaint, we initiate departmental inquiry or other necessary proceedings. Tainted officials are not posted in sensitive departments like Building Department. There may be one or two cases when such postings may be done by mistake."

He said no "general statement" should be made about corruption in Building Department.

Mehra said the civic body has already got two adjoining buildings near the collapsed house in Lalita Park vacated and that shelters for the residents to be affected by the vacation notices will be given by the Delhi government.

"Our focus is on ensuring public safety," he said.

To a question on why the MCD is yet to take action against any official three days after the collapse, Mehra said necessary action will be taken after receiving the report of the internal vigilance inquiry ordered into the incident.

Asked about the fate of the 38 buildings declared unsafe for accumulation of water in basements, Mehra said after the survey in the area in this regard gets over, it will be seen whether retrofitting can help strengthen the structures and added that otherwise demolition will be an option.
The Commissioner has directed officials to conduct a survey in the radius of 300 metres of the riverbed within the limits of Delhi to find out if there are other such buildings which may be affected by stagnation or seepage of flood water.


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