The much awaited Akrama Sakrama scheme may not be implemented any time soon. But where does it stand and what is holding it back? The rest of this article will give you some insight into what were the good things about it and what went wrong for the scheme.
The Akrama Sakrama scheme was first conceptualized in the year 2004 by the then ruling government to regularize illegal constructions within a certain limit. It literally means “making the illegal, legal” This move was aimed at generating revenues for cash strapped civic bodies but has since seen various legal and administrative hurdles. While the bill has been finally passed in the assembly in December 2013, the matter is subjudice in the high court via various PILs that have been filed.
The scheme seeks to regularize up to 50% violation of setback norms and permissible floor area ratios in residential buildings and up to 25% in non-residential buildings. The original bill applied to building constructed before December 2009, but has now been extended to buildings constructed before October 2013.
Lakhs of properties could avail this scheme across 8 municipal corporations, 44 city municipal councils, 94 town municipal councils, 68 panchayats and six notified area committees.
The BBMP is expected to generate revenues upto Rs.5000 Crore from Bangalore itself. This can greatly help the cash strapped body focus its finances on development.
The scheme was rolled out in a few rural areas and over 2000 applications were received from Dakshina Kannada district alone. However processing these applications may take time as the government is yet to decide on the extent of encroachments that can be regularized.
The levels of ‘allowed violations’ are arbitrary and without data-backing. No effort has been done to either establish levels of violations or extents of violations within each district.
The matter at hand is subjudice in the Hi
gh Court of Karnataka, via various Public Interest litigations. No effort has been made by the BBMP to either seek clarifications of the high court or vacate interim orders.
Violations of building plans cause hardship to neighbours, and the government has no locus standi to excuse this on their behalf. Their consent must be sought. This is a fundamental right and cannot be overlooked.
The same officials who have allowed the illegalities to occur are the ones entrusted to condone /sanction violations. This severely compromises the integrity of the process.
According to the current draft it is the current owners who have to pay the penalty. The rules must be amended to bring the actual perpetrators of the crime to book (the builder and the official who passed the scheme).
Many of the existing buildings do NOT follow the Part IV of National Building Code (Fire and Life Safety). Any violation would make that even worse (for example, by cutting off the exits, or narrowing the escape routes). Can the government condone such threats to life by collecting some fines?
HomeShikari’s View – by P.Sunder, CEO
The High Court of Karnataka has asked the state government to restrain from implementing the scheme till the Bangalore Metropolitan Planning Committee (BMPC) is constituted and elections for the same held. This is just one of the many litigations filed against the Akrama Sakrama and it is definitely going to be serious maze to get through for the scheme, before it gets implemented in reality. No clear timelines can really be given on when the scheme will actually come into play.
However, the scheme does benefit millions of home owners whose homes were not built as per prescribed norms and are considered to have a violation, to become regularized through payment of a penalty. While the penalty by itself cannot be suitable compensation for a violation in the first place, the most important aspect is that it will not even pose a serious threat for present and future violators. The violations will continue unless the penalty is extremely high and there is a suitable mechanism to check and monitor violations. In the absence of both, we are merely looking at paying lip service to this issue and propagating the fundamental truth in India that ‘rules don’t matter, at all’. And the ones that followed it, were fools.
The second aspect is that the majority of violations haven’t happened with individual home owners but with apartment complexes where the builders in consensus with officials were the prime violators of every rule in the book. They are going to go scot-free and the penalty is going to impact only the eventual buyers of the property. How fair is that? Though am sure every apartment owner will be relieved that he/she at least has a chance to have the violation condoned.
The third aspect is the implementation of the scheme itself is going to be mired in controversy due to lack of transparency. It just opens up yet another window to do mass regularization without proper verification and presents a huge opportunity to make money. Money that will not go into the government coffers but into the pockets of officials and brokers, especially those with political affiliations.
Our view is that the government seriously needs to look at its urban planning and shun certain archaic rules and regulations that are not relevant to the current situation. Make it easy to comply, make the systems transparent and make penalties so stringent that no one would ever dare violate.