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CMDA issues lock and seal notices to 720 buildings

Of these, only 5 percent have carried out rectifications and only one building with violations hgas been demolished. At least 50% of them have gone for appeals and sought time to make rectifications while the rest have not responded to the notice.

The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority has issued lock and seal notices to more than 720 buildings across the metropolitan area that were found to be in violation of the original building plan in the last 18 months.

Of these, only 5 percent have carried out rectifications and only one building with violations hgas been demolished. At least 50% of them have gone for appeals and sought time to make rectifications while the rest have not responded to the notice.

The highest number of violations were from the north zone, which accounted for almost 40% of notices issued.

Under the Tamil Nadu town and country planning act, 1971, any building that violates building approval norms can be penalised 50,000. However, this penalty can only be imposed through a court’s order.

“Since penalty provision is only through prosecution and conviction as it is a criminal offence, there is zero compliance. If they allow compounding and allow penalties to be implemented, the number of violations will reduce,” said a senior CMDA official.

In the last six months alone, the CMDA has issued 22 stop work notices, 32 lock and seal notices and has sealed two buildings. About five building owners have gone to appeal with the government while ten have replied to the notices seeking more time.

In 2021-2022, 265 lock and seal notices were issued of which 5 buildings were sealed, 183 went for appeals and 120 buildings sought more time. One building in the central zone was demolished and 87 stop work notices were issued. Officials said only 10% owners rectified their buildings.

The enforcement wing at CMDA was set up in the 1980s only to create awareness and demonstrate the various activities of the CMDA. The inspection and notice issuance provision lied solely with locla body. Over time, this wing began issuing lock and seal notices to those applicants who were approved by the CMDA. The wing has just four assistant planners and two deputy planners under a chief planner covering 1,189sqkm.

The reason for delayed action on those who have not responded to notices is manpower shortage. “We need a separate team to look into this as these planners are also busy with issuing completion certificates. They cannot follow up on cases where lock and seal notices were issued due to lack of manpower,” said an official from the enforcement wing.

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