Demolition of illegal apartments a distant dream

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Bhubaneswar: Though the announcement made by Housing and Urban Development minister Pushpendra Singhdeo in the State Assembly on Friday that the state government will demolish 195 apartments constructed illegally in the capital city, the fact remains that this is not the first time that such announcement has been made by the minister of the concerned department in the House.

The state government has declared a total of 583 apartments in Bhubaneswar as illegal of which it has decided to demolish 195 apartments. The issue has been raised in the State Assembly 10 times in the last 16 years.

The issue was first raised by Dushmant Nayak in the State Assembly during monsoon session in August 2010 to which the then minister in his reply had said 425 apartments have been illegally constructed of which 148 apartments would be demolished. The minister had also the same reply in the winter session of the State Assembly in November in the same year. He had also given the same reply in the House in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Criticising the dilly-dallying attitude of the state government, senior BJP leader and former minister Biswabhusan Harichandan said “What the state government was doing when these apartments were being constructed illegally? Now that the Housing and Urban Development minister has announced in the State Assembly that the government will take steps to demolish 195 apartments. I am sure that the owners of these apartments will move the court against the order of the state government. Moreover, if there is any such case pending in the court and the court has ordered a stay, the state government cannot do anything, leave alone demolishing these apartments”.

Talking to OTV, Tapan Mohanty, MD, Z Estate, said the apartments having no deviation are included in the list of apartments which will be demolished. The reason is that the occupancy certificate has not been issued. If investigations are made in this regard, several apartments will be eliminated from this list. “But if some apartments have deviated from the existing norms, Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) should take action against them,” he pointed out.

Senior BJD leader and former minister Surya Narayan Patro said the executing agency BDA has the right to demolish apartments which have been built illegally. But the BDA is not discharging its duty properly. “Hundreds of people are living in the apartments which have no proper planning, no approval and no fire safety measures. Taking these into consideration, these apartments should be demolished,” he maintained.

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