10 Steps to Stop FAR Construction and Pollution in Your Housing Society

Children affected by dust and air pollution at the RMN Foundation free school for deserving children in Delhi. Photo by Rakesh Raman. Click the photo to meet the RMN Foundation School Children.
Children affected by dust and air pollution at the RMN Foundation free school for deserving children in Delhi. Photo by Rakesh Raman. Click the photo to meet the RMN Foundation School Children.

If you want to stop the planned or ongoing FAR extended construction in your housing society, you can simply follow the following 10 steps.     

By Rakesh Raman

Rakesh Raman
Rakesh Raman

Today, the extended construction activity under the dubious Floor Area Ratio (FAR) rules of the government is spreading like a pandemic disease in Delhi’s cooperative group housing societies.

As a result, many innocent residents – including children, men, women, including senior citizens – are spending sleepless nights because they are not able to deal with the corrupt managing committees (MCs) of their societies which are hell-bent to make Delhi a veritable hell with avoidable construction and resulting dust and noise pollution.

But the residents need not worry because the entire FAR-based construction activity is a big fraud in which law-breaking MCs are operating in connivance with the deep-pocketed builders and corrupt government officials.

If you want to stop the planned or ongoing FAR extended construction in your housing society, you can simply follow the following 10 steps.

1. Write a Dissent Letter

If you have not yet written, write a simple letter to your MC President / Secretary that you do not want FAR extension. You do not need multiple signatures from different flat owners on your letter. Even a single flat owner with their family members can sign the letter to express their opposition to FAR extension.

If your MC is trying to suppress your voice, you can also write a letter to get your MC dissolved and a government administrator appointed in your society. Click here to see the letter.

2. Quote Fire Safety Norms

You must know that most cooperative group housing society buildings are not supposed to have extended construction as they do not satisfy fire safety requirements. You can learn about the fire safety thing from the following illustration.

Suppose 100 people live in a vertical apartment block of a group housing society of, say, 4 to 7 floors. Then in order to ensure fire safety, the housing society needs either one staircase of 4-meter width or two staircases of 2-meter width in that block.

If any existing group housing society does not have this staircase system, it should not get fire safety clearance. And if the society tried to extend the apartments in a block horizontally by adding more rooms, balconies, etc. in a flat, it will be left with no space to have the prescribed staircase(s).

That means, it cannot carry out extended construction under the vague FAR (Floor Area Ratio) rules because in that case it will compromise on the fire safety of the people living in the building.

If some MC members plan to start extended construction without fulfilling the staircase requirement, you can assume that they have bribed the officials to get clearance – which is a crime.

You must state these facts in your correspondence with your MC and other government departments.

3. State Harmful Effects of Pollution

You should also state in your letters that the cement dust from the construction activity can be lethal particularly for children and senior citizens. If they are forced to live in a construction environment for a longer period of time – months or years like in the case of FAR-based construction – they will face an increased risk of laryngeal cancer and predominantly related to supra  glottis  cancer,  chest  pain,  cough,  and  eye problems. Click here to read the research report.

4. Protect Your Human Rights

You must know that the government decision of extended construction will deprive you of your fundamental human right to live in a pollution-free environment guaranteed in the Constitution of India by way of Article 21. You must protect your right.

Any notification related to FAR rules cannot contravene the provisions of the Constitution. So, if you do not want, extended construction cannot happen around you.

5. Deliver the Letter

As most MCs do not easily accept and acknowledge letters, send your letter by Speed Post to the MC. Also, send a copy of your letter to the office of Lt. Governor of Delhi (who is also the chairman of the Delhi Development Authority, DDA) and the Registrar Cooperative Societies (RCS) of the Delhi Government. Click here to see the letter that I wrote and delivered a few days ago.

6. Do Not Sign No-Objection Certificate

As many MCs are controlled by criminals, they  are forcing the residents who oppose extended construction to sign no-objection certificates (NOCs) because according to government rules if even a single flat owner disagrees, the proposal for extended construction would have to be shelved.

So, MCs need 100% consent from all members / residents before starting the construction activity in a particular group housing society. You should never sign any such NOC. Obviously, if you have objection, you must not sign a no-objection document.

7. Ignore the Majority Argument

In many cases, the MCs say that they can go ahead with construction because majority of the members support them. But this type of pollution-laden construction is an illegal activity that puts to risk the lives of people living in the society.

Even if the majority of the members in a group housing society agree for extended construction, their decision cannot be accepted because it will endanger the health and lives of others.

If even one member of the society feels that the extended construction can harm his / her health and life, the society cannot carry out extended construction.

8. Report Criminal Intimidation to the Police

Many criminal MC members are threatening the residents so they should accept extended construction. But you should not feel threatened. If you receive any direct or indirect, written or verbal threat, immediately report to the police in your local police station. Or you can directly write to the Police Commissioner, as I had done.

In some cases, the MC members will go berserk in order to terrorize those who oppose extended construction. They will threaten them with expulsion notices as the MC members of my DPS Housing Society have been doing to me. You should give a befitting reply to them. Click here to see my reply.

9. Stay United

Believe in the maxim: Union is strength. You will find that many around you are too scared to oppose the MC members because they behave like criminals. You should try to convince your scared friends that it is our responsibility to raise our voice against injustice.

If you want, I can extend my help to you or other members in your society who want to live in a peaceful, pollution-free environment. We need to form a bigger group to combat this FAR extension menace. You can fill out the online form available at this link and I will contact you.

10. Spread the Word

In order to invite others to join our environment-protection movement, you must use all the communication platforms including social media channels, emails, and mobile groups to inform others that we have pledged to stop extended construction and pollution.

Let Us Keep Delhi Clean and Green

By Rakesh Raman, who is a government’s National award-winning journalist. He had been associated with the United Nations (UN) through United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as a digital media expert to help businesses use technology for brand marketing and business development. He also runs a free school for deserving children under his NGO – RMN Foundation.

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