illegal construciton in Shimla Core Area

Illegal construction in Shimla’s Core Area: Despite MC’s demolition orders, 2 structures raised within 6 months

SHIMLA-Haphazard, illegal, and over-construction has plagued Shimla during last couple of decades. Illegal construction in urban area has become more aggressive after Himachal Pradesh Government’s announcement of retention policy to regularize illegal structures. The Core Area of Shimla isn’t untouched. In a starling case,  two persons have illegally raised extra stories over existing roof in broad daylight despite demolition orders by the Municipal Corporation of Shimla. Both structures are built adjacent to each other.  

These two illegal structures are now threatening some shops that are located in vicinity to them. The brick work and cement is exerting huge weight on shops that are very old and are stands on wooden pillars. This could lead to possible collapse of the entire building and lead to loss of life, damage to property, and risk the lives of pedestrians as the market mostly remains crowded.  The shopkeepers are compelled to live under threat of possible collapse of the entire structure.   

The orders were passed in December 2016 with a deadline of four weeks after  an SMC Engineer inspected the building and confirmed illegal construction without any sanction. Surprisingly, the offenders still continue with illegal construction in April 2016, and have almost completed the construction without attracting any action except notices.

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area

One of Himachal Watcher’s readers reached us and brought the matter of this blatant violation by the offenders and inaction of the administration to our attention. The reader provided us with  copies of the two different notices (one mentioned demolition orders while other one asked to stop the construction) sent to these two offenders.  

In one of the cases, the SMC Commissioner, Pankaj Rai, had issued a demolition notice to Usha Rani in December 2016.  Second offender, Kanta Kapoor, was issued a notice to stop construction work on December 14, 2016. As per the notice issued to Usha Rani, she was found guilty of carrying out unauthorized construction and architectural modification in Shimla town’s Core Area, Lakkar Bazaar.  She increased the height of the roof and raises an extra storey over existing roof. The structure is located adjacent to a liquor shop in the bazaar.  According to the complainant, the structure was raised for commercial purpose. 

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area 2

Official orders for demolition passed by Shimla MC Commissioner, Pankaj Rai in December 2016

The Corporation confirmed the violation after receiving complaint and initiated official proceedings against the two offenders . SMC sent a notice to Usha under Section 25(1) of the H.P. Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 on 12 November, 2016. Through this notice she was informed of about the violation committed by her and was directed to stop the work immediately. Similarly, second offender, Kanta, was also issued a demolition notice in on December 14.

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area 6

Picture taken during inspection by Shimla MC JE

However, none of the two offenders complied with the orders and continued with the unauthorized construction work. For this non-compliance with previous order, SMC issued another notice to Usha on 21 December, 2016. In this notice, issued under Section 253 and 242 of the HP MC Act, 1994, for unauthorized construction measuring 50 Sq. mts., SMC initiated proceedings against the said structure raised in violation rules regarding sanction for construction in the Core Area of Shimla and Planning Area. The offender didn’t appear on the date of hearing despite personally receiving this notice.

Therefore, on December 24, the Municipal Commissioner, Pankaj Rai, directed the offender to demolish the unauthorized structure within a period of four weeks.

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area 7

On the rear side of the construction site

Four weeks passed but the offender continued with the construction work. The notice had warned the offender that if she doesn’t demolish the said structure, it will be taken down by the corporation at the risk, cost and responsibility of the offender. The Sr. Architect Planner was directed to monitor the demolition process and to seek assistance of R & B Department in the matter and report compliance.

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area 5

Offender has damaged MC’s safety railings to make way to the construction site

Shockingly, the illegal construction work of both the structures continues in April 2017, going against orders of demolition within four weeks starting from December 24, 2016. Kanta was ordered to stop the work but she didn’t bothered about the notice either. The each offender have almost completed construction of an extra story in the Core Area of Shimla. 

This case, very clearly, puts the working of SMC and AP branch in question.  The SMC had given clear orders of demolition, but the orders weren’t followed.  It also hints at possible act of corruption or patronage to the offenders by some influential/political personality.  

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area

On the top are the two said illegal structures

About Sections of H.P. Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 under which proceedings were conducted

According to the Section 242 of the HP MC Act, 1994,

“No person shall erect or commence’ to erect any building or execute any of the works specified in section 244 except with the previous, sanction of the Commissioner, nor otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter and of the bye-laws made under this Act in relation to the erection of buildings or execution of works.”

Section 253 HP MC Act, 1994,

“Where the erection of any work has been commenced, or is being carried on or has been completed without or contrary to the sanction referred to in section 246 or in contravention of any condition subject to which such sanction. has been accorded or in contravention of the provisions of this Act or bye-laws made thereunder, the Commissioner may in addition to any other action that may be taken under this Act, make an order directing that such erection or work shall be demolished by the person at whose instance the erection or work has been commenced or is being carried on or has been completed within such period (not being less than Seven days from the date on which a copy of the order of demolition with a brief statement of the reasons therefore has been delivered to that person) as may be specified in the order of demolition.”

 

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