State slack on bill for regulator to check illegal constructions

Apr 12, 2013, 07:11 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh

Little efforts have been made by the state govt to pursue Centre's pending approval for a bill to set up a housing watchdog for cracking whip on unauthorised structures to prevent Mumbra-like disasters

Very few efforts may have been made by the state to get early clearance for its bill on establishing a housing regulatory authority to check illegal constructions even though this may be the only panacea for the rampant problem. The Mumbra building collapse has compelled the state government to crack down on illegal buildings.

To prevent incidents such as the April 4 collapse of a building at Shil Phata near Mumbra in Thane, the only solution would be to have a housing regulator in place

But state and civic authorities have no answer as to where residents of the illegal buildings would get shelter if the bill is passed. The state legislature last July approved a bill to set up the Maharashtra Housing Authority, which will regulate the housing sector with stringent provisions.

The bill states that unless a project is registered with the authority, no advertisement will be allowed nor the sale deed of the dwellings approved. Besides, online registration has been made mandatory for builders and a prospective buyer can visit the regulator’s website to find out about developers and whether clearances have been received.

However, nine months after the bill’s approval, there has been little effort by the state to seek the President’s assent. According to a senior government official, even though the housing department is headed by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, there was no communication with the Centre on the issue.

State housing minister Sachin Ahir said the issue was raised during a recent meeting with Union housing and urban poverty alleviation minister Ajay Maken. Incidentally, the Centre is also expected to set up a regulatory authority for the real estate sector. “To remove doubts we have assured the central government that effective provisions from the central legislation would be introduced in our state,” Ahir said.

As per the procedure laid down for presidential assent, clearance by the relevant ministries of the central government is necessary. The state can always pursue the bill but no concrete efforts have been made in the last few months to seek early clearance, say sources.

To prevent incidents such as the April 4 collapse of a building at Shil Phata near Mumbra in Thane which killed 74 people and injured many others the only solution would be having in place a housing regulator. Also such a regulator will have powers like a civil court, where any house buyer can lodge his complaint for redressal.

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