press club of india, Indian Tehalka News
The alarming frequency of accidents at construction sites in congested localities, especially in the old city limits and Srirangam, has brought to fore the dangers of unauthorised re-development.
Wednesday’s accident at West Uthira Street in Srirangam where four persons were killed has brought into focus the absence of safety measures in redevelopment of old buildings and lax enforcement. In most parts of the erstwhile Tiruchi municipal limits and around the Srirangam temple, buildings stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Redevelopment of decades-old buildings often leads to accidents. Residents complain of lax enforcement and point out it is almost impossible for any construction activity to take place anywhere without the knowledge of field officers of the corporation.
Corporation sources claimed that notice was issued for the unauthorised construction at the particular site in Srirangam. But the construction had been going on the sly.
Such accidents have become all too frequent in the city. Just about a couple of months back, an aged person was killed and five others were killed when a building under expansion collapsed near the Nathervali Dargah. In September 2013, three construction workers were buried alive when a portion of a hotel building collapsed as a trench was being dug up for raising pile foundation for a commercial complex in an adjacent plot on Madurai Road.
Four persons of a family were killed when a building under renovation on East Andar Street, a congested and densely populated area, collapsed in December 2007. Corporation officials say they are empowered only to issue notices and levy penalties against unauthorised construction. Often violators take the issue to the courts.
Wednesday’s accident at Srirangam has taken place though no new building plan approval for construction is issued by the Corporation in and around the Srirangam temple owing to a long pending ownership dispute between the temple administration and residents. Nearly 7,000 families are said to be affected by the problem.
At the heart of the dispute is a title deed (number 1027) issued in 1866 and renewed in 1910 under which temple authorities claim that 320 acres belong to the temple. But many affected residents dispute this and claim that they had purchased the lands and pattas have been issued through settlements reached at different periods in the past. It even became a campaign issue during the Assembly election with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa promising steps to sort out the problem. But the government is yet to find a solution.
Local residents complain that as the civic body is not issuing approvals, people are constructing buildings on the sly in a hurried manner leading to accidents. “If only plan approvals were issued, people will take up construction in a proper manner. Now, inexperienced people are deployed to construct buildings hurriedly. The corporation should maintain a close vigil to stop such unauthorised constructions under way at many places,” says S.N. Mohan Ram, president, Srirangam Town Welfare Association.
He claims that there is no direction from the courts barring issue of plan approvals. Besides, the ownership dispute could easily be settled through tripartite talks, he says.
Corporation officials say that they could not issue plan approvals as the applicants do not produce ‘no objection certificates’ from the HR & CE Department.
From: The Hindu