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District administration issues notice to high-rise illegal building owners

under-construction building on Nehru Road  Darjeeling
The Darjeeling municipality is finding itself squashed between the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and the state government over the issue of implementing building rules as per the Bengal Municipality Act. The district administration has issued a conditional order to six owners found flouting building norms and sought explanations. Darjeeling DM Anurag Srivastav said the notice was issued following complaints reported by the police. “Under section 133 of the CrPc, magistrates have the power to issue orders if they feel human lives are in danger. In this case, the huge structures in town are the cause of the danger. We have issued a conditional order to owners of six buildings on the basis of complaints filed by the police,” he said.
The DM, however, said the conditional order implies the owners will need to submit building permission papers even as the stay is in place. “We will first see if the building plans and the required permission from the municipality are proper. We will take action, including demolition of the structures only if they are found to be violating the set norms,” Srivastav said. According to the police complaint, two under-construction buildings, one at Nehru Road leading to Chowrastha and the other on Gandhi Road, and another three under-construction buildings on Hooker Road, Mall Road and close to the Governor’s House, the latter being a school, and another at the Lal Dhiki in the market area, were found to be flouting the rules. The district administration has also sought the municipality’s reports and they will have to be placed before the SDO on September 10. Meantime, the Darjeeling municipality today said different cases have been mentioned in the police report.  “The district administration has filed cases ranging from security concerns to the Governor’s House to encroachment (Lal Dhiki) to illegal heights. At this point of time, we are sandwiched between the state government and the GTA and are at a loss as to what is to be done,” bemoaned Darjeeling municipality chairman Amar Singh Rai. The civic body’s predicament comes in the wake of a directive by the GTA allowing construction of buildings up to a maximum height of 14.5 metres as compared to the set norm of 11.5 metres set by the Bengal Municipality Act. During a meeting with the chairmen of the four municipalities of the hills on August 16, GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung had said structures crossing the 11.5m mark would not be demolished and would be allowed up to 14.5m instead. This was after the Darjeeling municipality started a survey to identify illegal high-rises for dismantling. In fact, the municipality had already started demolishing two buildings in the town area last month. Following a survey, the civic body has found more than 300 structures in town violating the building norms. “We will place the resolution taken on August 16 before the GTA and the state government and wait for further directions from both sides,” said Rai. It is learnt that GTA officials met the state chief secretary last week in Kolkata and requested him to direct the Darjeeling DM and the SP to consult the municipality before taking any further action on the matter. (EOIC)

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