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SOP planned for impact fee defaulters hindered in Ahmedabad

The sop planned for 15 lakh defaulters who have not paid impact fee has turned out to be a flop. On June 1, the state government slashed impact fee rates and even simplified procedures to make things relatively easy for citizens. But then town planning officials in major cities have pointed out several problems in persuading citizens to voluntarily come forward to pay the fee. As of now, few people are trickling into zonal offices only to enquire about the complex procedure.

The numbers will tell all. In Vadodara, just 125 applications were received. In Ahmedabad, 178 applicants approached the municipal corporation; while in Surat, just 150 applications were made.

“An awareness drive is a must to clear the air,” says a senior urban development official. “Several members of a society do not agree to pay. Some people in apartments claim their structure is legal or blame the builders. Then there are issues regarding certifying illegal structures to be safe before making an application for impact fee.”

Officials said that individual members can approach the municipal corporation or the local civic body for regularizing. Earlier, an applicant was required to get an NOC from the chairman of the society. Now this clause has been deleted. “Still, not many people are aware of this change,” the official said. “We have been regularly getting complaints about chairpersons of societies not giving NOCs.”

In many Gujarat cities another major problem is identifying parking space within a 500 square metre radius of an illegal building that is devoid of any parking space. The rules clearly state t h a t buildings where mandatory parking space of 200 sq metre has not been provided can be regularized by paying existing jantri rate as impact fee, without having to make provisions for parking.

“Here individual municipal corporations can identify plots in the vicinity for which residents can pay for the development of multi-level parking,” says a senior official of Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC).

Another major difficulty in cities like Vadodara is that private architects have now started maintaining a defensive stance by refusing to certify the safety of a building which has illegal extensions or floors.

Times View

A large segment of urban Gujaratis live in illegal homes. Given the rapid speed at which Gujarat is urbanizing, it is incumbent upon both the government and the people to find a practical solution to this malaise. While the government understands the problems that people face in legalizing their homes, people too should come forward and pay up the fee.