The Madras High Court on Friday observed that the enormity of the number of cases of illegal constructions was astounding showing complete failure of the system, where people seem to be making constructions as they like without any fear of consequences.

The First Bench of Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice M. Sundar made the observation after perusing the affidavits filed by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), the Chennai Corporation and the report of the amicus curiae.

The issue pertains to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition moved by “Traffic” K.R. Ramaswamy seeking action against unauthorised construction in and around George Town area in Chennai.

When the PIL came up for hearing the amicus curiae submitted that the authorities have received 65,529 applications for regularisation under 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 schemes. Pointing out that 86 per cent of the applications were rejected, amicus curiae V. Suresh said: “This, in turn, would require a massive action, but the enforcement action has been comparatively sparse, thus, the violators have continued to have sway.”

He further pointed out that in the past 19 years, only 156 illegal constructions have been demolished by the CMDA at an average of eight demolitions per year while they grant plan approvals at an average of 500 to 600 buildings per year. As to the vacancies in the CMDA, which was also pointed out by the amicus curiae as a major reason for the inaction, the Bench directed the State government to file an affidavit explaining the time period within which the vacancies would be filled.

“As far as vacancies in Chennai Corporation are concerned, it is stated that the recruitment process is at interview stage and there are stated to be some interim orders of this court. On our query to verify the facts, the matter was passed over and now it is confirmed that there was no interim order. We thus, direct that steps be taken for holding the interview within two weeks,” the judges added. The Bench then posted the PIL to January 23, 2017 for further hearing.

CHENNAI – Action against builders who violate norms

CHENNAI –  Action against builders who violate norms


Families living in an apartment complex (XXXXXXXX Road, Chennai) have been struggling with a promoter who built a multi-storey residential building without any setback right next door.

The families complained that the building under construction was being raised on the compound wall of their apartment complex, which is more than 20 years old.

Residents complained to the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority with the hope that swift action would be taken to put an end to the violation. However, the CMDA, the city’s principal planning agency, has forwarded the complaint to the Chennai Corporation instructing it to take appropriate action.

Activists said the government seems to be unable to keep building violations, especially of small and medium housing projects in the central business district under check. Sources said that while violations of buildings norms were causing havoc in the city, the government agencies, on receipt of a complaint, had to first check the characteristic of the locality. For instance, end-to-end construction was permitted in many ‘continuous building areas’ in the city.

Sources in the Department of Housing and Urban Development said inadequate field staff in CMDA was an important reason they were unable to act immediately on complaints.

Corporation sources said the local body placed many buildings under lock-and-seal except in cases where they had issued planning permission.


Unauthorised Building sealed in Chennai by CMDA

Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), on Friday sealed a building that was constructed without applications for planning permission.

A note from CMDA said the owner had constructed basement, a ground floor and three additional floors in total violation of norms.

Despite a stop work notice issued in November, the owner went ahead and completed the building.


‘Withhold Sanction For Fresh Projects Of Builders Who’ve History Of Plan Violations’


The search for a mechanism to rein in builders and developers who churn out buildings in violation of sanctioned plans or raise unauthorised constructions, may end here.  If this suggestion of the Madras high court is implemented, unscrupulous builders and promoters, who flout development control rules, may have to either quit the trade or comply with the regulations. A division bench of Justices Prabha Sridevan and M Sathyanarayanan has said the government could withhold sanction for fresh projects of builders who face charges of unauthorised construction or deviation from sanctioned plan.

“Desperate situations require desperate measures,” the judges said, adding: “If sanction is refused on the ground of previous violation, these unscrupulous and careless buildings will be reined in and (will) toe the line. These irregular constructions will not come up. Only then, the living standards of this city can be maintained.” The judges also hoped that the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and the government would take necessary action. The Ambattur Municipality, which too was made a party to the proceedings, was represented by special government pleader I Paranthamen.  The matter relates to a PIL filed by R Vanaja, who alleged that a builder had put up a totally unauthorised construction at Golden Colony in Mogappair (West), and that the building enjoyed electricity as well as sewerage connection. With these facilities in place, the builder had transferred the property to a third party, she said. She wanted the building to be razed. Not denying the charges, the builder said the structure had no sanction plan and that his first plea for regularisation had already been rejected by the CMDA. His second application is pending, he said.  The bench, expressing concern at the “unchecked proliferation of deviated construction,” said: “We think that a time has come for the CMDA to consider whether some safeguards should be provided or should be introduced in the form of regulations, which will bring to the notice of the sanctioning authorities that the builder or the promoter who applies for sanction plan is already facing litigation for construction not in accordance with sanctioned plan. Then, approval shall not be given to such applicants. Some measures like this alone will discourage the persons who have no respect for adhering to the sanctioned plan, and who are motivated by greed and nothing else.”

The bench has adjourned the matter to February 2, for further proceedings.  As per the original Supreme Court order, only those buildings that were completed before the cut off date of February 28, 1999 were eligible for exemption from demolition. However, the state government issued three ordinances in 2000, 2001 and 2002, each time giving a one-year moratorium for the rogue buildings. Though the Madras high court struck down the ordinances in 2007, the apex court ordered status quo.

The government, in the meantime, came out with two more ordinances of similar nature, and the second ordinance is valid till July 2010.

Many builders don’t seek approval in firms’ names  For a city that is struggling to deal with close to two lakh building violations, the Madras high court order on illegal constructions has come as a welcome relief. If followed in letter and spirit, the court order could infuse much-needed transparency into Chennai’s real estate sector.

Reacting to the court order, Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI), Tamil Nadu chapter president, T Chitty Babu said, “We welcome this judgment. It would put an end to further violations in the city. Building violations are indulged in mostly by individuals who construct houses on their own or small-time builders. The court order is a boon for builders who stick to rules and do quality construction. We will educate CREDAI members on the implications of the order. We already have a code of conduct and those who violate development control rules have no place in our organisation. The regulatory agencies should also see to it that no building is given power, water and sewerage connections without obtaining completion certificate.

“Blacklisting those who violate norms is a ticklish issue because many builders do not apply for approvals in their firms’ names. The applicants would be, at times, land owners, with whom builders would have signed joint-venture agreements for promoting the project. In such cases, even if there are violations, the builders would go scot-free. Hence, the CMDA and DTCP will have a tough time tackling this issue,” said Chitty Babu.

CMDA vice chairperson Susan Mathew told TOI, “Looking at the large-scale violations that have taken place in the city in the past, the high court order is significant. However, we will have to read the order and seek government opinion before deciding on further course of action. The issue will be discussed in the meeting of the Authority (CMDA’s supreme decision-making body) on January 19. We have been periodically issuing notices on buildings that have violated rules after July, 2007. Many buildings have also been sealed.”

Chennai has enough of building violations – starting from violation of permissible floor space index (FSI is the ratio of built-up space to land area) to construction of buildings without approval. The government not only failed in reining in builders doing illegal constructions, but also went about condoning many violations in the past through a series of regularisation schemes in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. However, the high court subsequently struck down the last three regularisation schemes saying that exemptions like regularisation should be given only once.