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Not my fault

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It costs Rs 5000 and there is no online version available, not even a summarized one. So while I am yet to read Bangalore's Masterplan-2015, newspapers have been supplying bits and bytes on it. Of them recently, this one caught my attention. Apparently, with CDP-2015, Architects, planners and engineers face the threat of losing licences if they fail to report violations of building byelaws, and they are not happy with it:

"By bringing in this clause, the authorities, they allege, are shifting the burden of enforcing the laws to architects, town planners and engineers."

Alright, government bashing is fashion of the day. But I fail to see the rationale behind general expectations that everything is the responsibility of "officials". (Actually, I find this word "officials" pretty amusing, will save that for a later post).

Say you are building a house. You submitted a blueprint/design, and got it approved. Construction begins. Boom boom, 3 months later, you have a new house ready with multiple violations. How could this have happened? I see only two possible ways:

1) When getting your design approved, you paid the approver "official" to ignore violations.

2) You haven't built what exactly was approved.

If it was point #1, the "official" needs to be taken to task. But should it be him alone? Architect or Engineers did get a chance to review the design before they started construction. Wont it be a critical check-and-balance in the system if they refused to build something that had violations?

If it was point #2, then you most likely "paid" the Architect or Engineer to alter the approved design. Why expect our dear "officials" to regularly monitor and inspect every single construction activity for irregularities? Is that feasible? Shouldn't the "officials" trust - first you, and next the Architects and Engineers - to stick with what was approved?

Again, I haven't read the relevant clauses, and I only have newspaper reports to go by. But this seemed like a case of "its not me, its them", or rather, another one in the theme of expecting the "officials" to do all the policing while we shy away from our own responsibilities.


tsubba's picture

a comment on style.

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wonderful. starts and ends in one go. thumbs up!!

come to think of it, pehaps what i really want to say is could not agree more.  

silkboard's picture

the thing is

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[thanks TS, let me ack that first] This sort of falls in the same category as, "I threw trash on the street because there was no bin nearby". Passing all the pain and responsibility to the "authorities" and "officials" is the dharma these days.
Ananth's picture

i am an architect and i

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i am an architect and i experience this first hand. A. There are architects in bangalore, some very big to be dealt legally and some small to be kept on check (thats how things work here atleast now, you want it or not) who gain mileage and bag projects because they can get violations approved. These guys need to be answerable and need to be punished and is a major cause of the non-well-being in the city. B.Firstly, bangalore is the only place that has a 30 x 20 site, planned by the authority. Given that scenario, the clients try pushing the architect (who is obviously supposed to deal with that site size) to ignore bye-laws. Now, given the competetion, the architect is not going to report this, also becuase he cannot play police without the necessary protection and empowerment. C. Who is stopping the building demolition activity after violating? The violators. Why should the govt give any consideration to what they do/say? What is legally correct? Do the authorities lack the balls to stand up for what is right or do they take compensations from violators?
silkboard's picture

late reply

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First of all, thanks for the informed and insider comment. late reply but wanted to understand this line better: "he cannot play police without the necessary protection and empowerment" Didn't know that. So there is 'fear' involved? Or is - Architects not wanting to lose business - the real reason everyone is okay with building violations? I am only curious, and not questioning your insight here. What is your suggestion on whats the best way for Architects and a Policing agent (BDA types) to share this responsibility? I think it is these in order 1) rationalize bylaws (some dont make sense) 2) then punish offenders (building owners) 3) punish those who helped build it - engrs/archs first 4) punish those who approved plans (if the approved plan had violations) I know it is easier said than done, especially item #2. But this is the only way I see this working.
ananth.bangalore's picture

a very late reply.

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hey silkboard, If you think certain group of service providers are involved in this and if they are stopped, this will stop, let me tell you, you are grossly mistaken, my friend. The clients want more in the site, so they will give the project to an architect who can manage this violation. The bigger the violation, the bigger the bribe to get your approval done. If someone tries to talk against the whole damn thing, its not just the violators, buddy, the whole fraternity who benifit out of the violations will do everything to shut you up. Talk about doing something about this, and the same people will talk with you. Try to actually do something, and you may not survive long, my friend. This may sound like a movie, let me assure you, movies are censored off the reality. Reality is much more harsher and more violent than in a movie. But, thanks for all the good work. The first stage to anything about all this apathy is to agree that something needs to be done. Thanks for that.
ananth.bangalore's picture

one more thing

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and one more thing. If there are people who know what is the actual plague, then, nobody knows it better than the people responsible for this plague. They are also the ones who are supposed to be the guardians. You can only wake up someone who is actually sleeping. You cant wake up someone who is pretending to sleep.
psaram42's picture

A wakeup call

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I cant agree more with Ananth ! I always felt funny about Akrama Sakrama.


nishu's picture

isn't it like saying we can never do anything

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When we know the building violations are happening.. Why the Government can't step up. I will give an example... say a builder takes permission to build an aprtment with 40 two bedroom flats and then ends up building 20- 3 bedroom and 20  two bedroom flats.

In this case why can't the architect just report it. More importantly the govt body which approves the building, why doesn't it make surprise checks during construction.

I am 99% sure that such a thing cannot happen without the approving agency being involved. So i guess that solves it. The approving agency must act during construction... ( not after 40 families have bought the flat and started living there).

2. Make approval process very strict with clear guidelines on what is allowed and what is not.

3. Punish the offenders... start with the big builders and the approving agency.


das's picture

Not illegal till you're caught - we are like that only

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I was cycling past Hudson circle the other day, saw vehicles at one of the pedestiran crossings stopping ON the zebra lines instead of before them every time there was a red signal. Lots of pedestrians were getting seriously inconvenienced because of this (but of course nobody was complaining).

There was a traffic police constable standing nearby, and I went to him and asked him how come he was not bothering about the problem. He said there were simply too many violators, he couldn't do anything alone, so he was just noting down all the numbers to send notices later - he then showed me a book with a big list. I asked him if I could help him by also noting the numbers. He said he was managing OK, but also got emotional, shook my hand and said it was the first time in his life that a member of the public had offered to help.

You can actually draw 3 conclusions from this:
1. We do our best to break or bend laws whenever possible (the motorists in this case)
2. When someone else breaks the law, we do not protest because we ourselves do the same thing given half a chance (the pedestrians keeping quiet in this case).
3. Law enforcers can do their job only when breaking the law is an exception, not the rule.

Same thing with building plans.
1. People deliberately get illegal building plans made by architects, get them approved.
2. When their neighbour is breaking the law and inconveniencing them, they keep quiet because they did the same thing earlier to their neighbour.

The architect is as culpable as the house owner, and both must be punished. Like Price Waterhouse is getting it in the neck (I hope) in the Satyam case.

psaram42's picture

The SAS Property Tax example

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 The BJP government is spending a lot of money on SAS (Self Assessment Scheme) advertisement every day on TOI. Each day the add displays a different taxpayers photo with some of his compliments about the SAS as implemented by BJP. Some percentage of the total properties under SAS will be checked later for any wrong  assessments made. If found guilty BBMP is free to levy a hefty penalty. Here there is no Architect involved.

In the case of building violations the Owner and the Architect who designs the building and excutes the project on the clients behaf  are both equally responsible. I am of the opinion that Government has no option but to hold both parties equally responsible for the offence.

In my own case my architect got the plan, which had absolutely no deviation, sanctioned on my behalf. He collected from me Rs 500/- and paid it as Baksheesh to the person in BDA.  If on the other hand if there were violations, in actual execution the Architect would be guilty too. There will be a violation from the sanctined plan. So what is the point if he and the Owner pay a hefty penalty? In practice the owner will end up paying for both, any way. If Architect looses his license it should be for a provan habitual offence.

All this depends on Government and the will of the PRAJA in the long run.

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