House Committee To Review Apartment Act – Dhumal

Shimla: Under fire over alleged misuse of Apartment Regulation Act, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal announced constitution of a house committee that would review the contentious Act.

Making a suo motto statement after question hour, the chief minister said that the committee would consider whether the act needs some amendments, what these amendments should be or whether the act needs to be scrapped.

The committee would also consider about the all essential certificates issued to colonizers till 31 March, 2011 and if any irregularity was noticed, a judicial probe would be ordered, said the chief minister.

Earlier, during the question hour, congress lawmakers took the government to task saying that builders in violation of norms had been permitted to develop project areas in green areas and trees were recklessly being cut.

Senior congress leader Kaul Singh Thakur said that the haste in which some builders had been granted all permissions, including essentially certificates, despite some departments having expressed reservations only proved that ‘Himachal in on sale.’

Opposition congress members alleged that the government was sheltering many colonizers who had been granted permission to develop colonies in Shimla in violation of norms.

Congress legislator Mukesh Agnihotri said that issuing of essentially certificate was a big scam. He asked for withdrawal of all such certificates and their copies be laid in the house.

Making a pointed reference to three colonizers namely, MJH Infrastructures, Optima Constructions and HMR developers, Agnihotri claimed that concerned departments had raised objections and refused to grant a no objection certificate, but they were granted ex-facto permission which was illegal.

Responding to the pointed questions and subsequent supplementary questions, urban development minister Mohinder Singh said that he had personally visited the site of Optima Constructions.

It was wrong to says that more than 1000 trees had been cut by the builder on a 108 bigha of land to develop a colony. “Some trees had been cut but with prior permission of the forest department,” said the minister.

He disclosed that there were 248 builders registered in the state after enactment of the Apartment Act in 2005 out of which 158 had been registered during the tenure of the previous congress government. In 3 years of the current government only 90 builders had been registered.

Till date 62 essentially certificates had been issued of which 42 were by the previous government and the remaining by the current government.

After being given charge of the urban development ministry, Mohinder Singh said that essential certificates had been issued to only 7 builders. Whereas six of these certificates had been granted by the concerned officials, only one case came up to him, he added.

Senior congress leader and former speaker Gangu Ram asked for withdrawing ECs to six builders and sought to know as to what action was being contemplated against the concerned builders.

The minister assured the member that strict action would be taken against anybody found to have committed and illegality.

He said that though no objection certificates had been obtained from Irrigation and Public health, Public Works and Forest departments by these builders before they were put before concerned local bodies, which included Panchayats.

To a related question, the minister in a written reply stated that Bemloe Development and Infrastructure Company had purchased 6649.21 Sq meters of land for Rs 3.05 crore in Shimla and had been accorded approval for constructing 24 flates.

Prima facie, no irregularity had been committed by the builder as all concerned departments had given the NOC, said the minister.

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