Mumbai: Architects to bear the brunt if builders found flouting rules

The BMC came up with this rule in its recently released draft of development regulations, which is being opposed by the architects’ association

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) developmental regulations never fail to ignite debates and, this time, its rule to punish architects, engineers and surveyors for violations committed by builders has caused an uproar in the Practising Engineering Architect Town Planners Association (PEATA).

The PEATA has written to the municipal commissioner to express strong objections to the new rule, since architects cannot be held responsible if a builder violates rules. Representation pic
The PEATA has written to the municipal commissioner to express strong objections to the new rule, since architects cannot be held responsible if a builder violates rules. Representation pic

This provision, which is part of a recently released draft of Development Control Regulations (DCR) 2034, says that if a builder does not adhere to the set preconditions of the BMC, the architect will also be held responsible. The PEATA has taken strong objection to this and has written to the municipal commissioner in the matter.

Open to feedback
A few chapters of the DCR 2034 draft were released in March to let stakeholders study them and submit observations before the final DCR is released in May.

In the first chapter, titled ‘Administration’, the BMC has said all ‘professionals on record’ will be held responsible if any rules are flouted.

The term ‘professional on record’ has been defined as “persons educationally, technically and experientially qualified to perform a designated skilled job and who are appointed by the Owners/Developers and are responsible for the work carried out by his/her subordinates or team, such as architects, licensed surveyors, engineers, structural engineers, fire protection consultants.”

PEATA speak
“So if the builder adds an extra floor in the building, they will pull up the architect. This is bizarre. The BMC has designated officers whose jobs are to make sure there are no violations in building construction. It is their job, not the architect’s,” said Shirish Sukhatme of PEATA.

“If tomorrow we go and report such a violation, the builder will fire us and we will lose our jobs. Besides, if authorities are in connivance with them, what power do we have to take action?” he asked.

The association has therefore written to the municipal commissioner regarding their concerns. In a letter dated April 1, they have said, “The DCR should be in consonance with the MRTP Act and hence any action for unauthorised development should be initiated against the person carrying out unauthorised development and not the professional.”

Criticising the BMC for this move, another city-based architect said, “As professionals, it is our job to design buildings. If something is wrong with the plan, we can be pulled up, but implementation is not our responsibility but the BMC’s. In 2012, the then municipal commissioner brought out a similar circular, wherein architects were going to be held responsible. But we fought back and they couldn’t bring it. But now they are trying to do it through the DCR.”

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