- As government’s cruel FAR (floor area ratio) rules are harming millions of people who live in and around Delhi’s cooperative group housing societies, now the Delhi High Court has taken the right decision to stop FAR construction in order to save people from dust and noise pollution.
- FAR construction is part of a multi-crore-rupees corruption scandal which is tacitly protected by the government and run by criminals who act under the garb of elected managing committee (MC) members in group housing societies.
- Since the government – if it exists – has failed to address the grievances of suffering residents, they go to the courts.
By Rakesh Raman
In an ongoing case, the Delhi High Court has ordered to stop the extended construction activity which was being carried out under the dubious FAR (floor area ratio) policy at a cooperative group housing society in Dwarka, New Delhi.
The residents of R. D. Apartments, Plot 20, Sector 6 in Dwarka have contended in their petition to the court that unauthorized illegal construction was happening in their society building which must be stopped.
The aggrieved residents of R. D. Apartments – who were suffering from dust and noise pollution as well as other disturbance coming with the construction activity – have also prayed to get the partial construction demolished and penalty imposed on the managing committee (MC) members of the Society and others who were supporting this illegal activity.
While the construction activity has stopped before completion under court directions, the accused MC members of R. D. Apartments have got the building material removed from the Society premises.
Result: The members who had paid money for FAR construction have virtually lost their money, the Society building is wearing a shabby look because of incomplete construction, the MC members and their internal and external supporters are facing prosecution which may lead to their imprisonment, and since the entire building has become a disputed property it will be extremely difficult for owners to sell their flats.
DDA and RCS Corruption
It is not only the Society members who are now suffering because of the illegal construction and expected demolition at R. D. Apartments, but the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) which is among the most corrupt organizations in Delhi is also being questioned by the court.
While I have been running a community-driven service under the banner “Clean House” to report on corruption cases in group housing societies, before the case went to the court I had informed DDA about the corruption by DDA officials who had given approvals for illegal FAR construction at R. D. Apartments.
As the residents of R. D. Apartments had informed me, I had written about the DDA official Rajesh Kumar, Asstt. Director (Arch.), Building Section, and the Signing Architect S. L. Beriwal, CA/86/10011 who were allegedly involved in the illegal construction / approval case.
In order to take DDA’s response in this case, my RMN News Service wrote an email requesting the DDA to investigate the whole matter and send its response. However, DDA preferred to stay silent and presumably protected the corrupt people involved in this case.
I had also met Praveen Dhamija, Dy. Dir. (Bldg.) in DDA office to explain him the lawlessness involved in FAR construction in occupied group housing societies. It appeared from his response that he has understood about the criminality in FAR construction, but for unknown reasons he did not take steps to stop the FAR construction activity.
Why do Praveen Dhamija and other DDA officials want to continue FAR construction when it is virtually killing people including men, women, children, and senior citizens?
Although later DDA had sent an officer to meet me and who had assured me that DDA will resolve the R. D. Apartments case amicably and in future DDA will be cautious in giving any approvals for FAR construction in other housing societies, DDA did nothing to stop FAR projects.
Rather, it is learnt that DDA is still giving FAR approvals because there is a huge opportunity for corruption in such extended construction projects which are replete with financial frauds and other irregularities.
There are cases in which the corrupt MC members of housing societies openly claim that they will bribe the DDA officials to get approvals for FAR construction. The plans of housing societies clearly violate the Unified Building Bye Laws (UBBL) and other regulations, but DDA gives approvals for such illegal projects.
Pollution in Delhi
The author of this report – Rakesh Raman – is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He has been running mass awareness environment-protection campaigns in Delhi.
He has interacted with various government officials and hundreds of people in Delhi to inform them about the risks of FAR construction and pollution. He also has formed the Green Group of Dwarka in order to intensify the environment-protection activities in Delhi which is among the most polluted cities of the world.
He has also created a comprehensive research report “Poisonous Particles + Noise Nuisance = Death for Delhi” that highlights the perils of pollution.
Along with DDA, there are other departments too that work hand in glove with the corrupt managing committee (MC) members who are blatantly committing all sorts of crimes in group housing societies.
For example, Registrar Cooperative Societies (RCS) of Delhi Government – which is supposed to regulate the societies’ affairs – has repeatedly failed in discharging its duties honestly.
Under the “Clean House” service, I get multiple complaints from suffering residents who lament that despite their repeated representations against the MC members and particularly the fraudulent ways in which they conduct General Body Meetings (GBMs), the RCS office ignores their complaints.
In order to falsely satisfy the complainants, the RCS office even orders the inquiries against corrupt MC members but those inquiries hardly get completed and corruption persists in societies.
In order to conceal and condone the illegal activities of the MC members, strangely the top officers in the RCS office accept the frivolous responses of the MC members while working in a perfunctory manner.
Most would know that the RCS office has a long history of corruption and reportedly many of its officers have been caught even by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in corruption cases. You can read about Case 1 and also Case 2 and a recent case that is being investigated.
As an excuse to protect the lawless MC members of societies, the RCS office unnecessarily gives a big importance to the decisions of the General Body Meetings (GBMs). But despite receiving numerous complaints from the affected members, the RCS office has refused to realize the fact that GBMs have become a big fraud in Delhi’s cooperative group housing societies. The corrupt MC members bribe the voting members to get elected and then get their illegal decisions approved in the GBMs.
Then where should people go and complain? As most Indian politicians and bureaucrats are extremely inefficient and illiterate, they do not take decisions to resolve public problems. They keep rotating written public complaints from one desk to another.
Consequently, citizens are left with no other option but to approach the courts. If these government officials are working properly, the burden on courts can be reduced considerably.
Alas, the administration has completely collapsed. The unending fight between Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt. Governor Anil Baijal is also among the reasons that lawlessness is increasing in Delhi while government officials are having a ball without any accountability.
The Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD), Delhi Fire Service (DFS), Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC), and Delhi Police are among the other departments that have failed to ensure law and order in Delhi’s cooperative group housing societies.
The sorry plight in Delhi indicates that India has already become a politically unstable banana republic with rampant lawlessness, corruption, and exploitation of the ordinary citizens.
Bureaucratic and political corruption have become pain in the neck for commoners in India. A new “Freedom in the World 2017” report – released by Freedom House, a Washington-based independent watchdog organization – highlights rampant political and bureaucratic corruption in India. It reveals that corruption has a negative effect on government efficiency and economic performance.
“Though politicians and civil servants at all levels are regularly caught accepting bribes or engaging in other corrupt behavior, a great deal of corruption goes unnoticed and unpunished,” the report said in its findings.
Similarly, global anti-corruption organization Transparency International has lowered India’s rank from last year’s position of 79 to 81 this year. According to the Transparency data, India with a score of 40 is more corrupt than countries such as China, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Mauritius.
If the situation is not controlled immediately, it is expected that soon international sanctions will be imposed on India because of government’s failure to stop increasing crime and corruption.
Since the Delhi and Indian governments have failed miserably to provide relief to their own citizens, I will share this report with the concerned international organizations to inform them about the terrible law and order situation in Delhi.
FAR Construction and Pollution
The extended building construction which is happening under the government’s corrupt FAR (floor area ratio) rules is going to harm at least one million people who live in and around Delhi’s cooperative group housing societies.
With this ill-conceived FAR policy, the Delhi Government is using extended construction as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) which will first torture people with the lethal dust and noise pollution and then finally kill them mercilessly.
The new FAR scheme obliquely allows inhabited group housing complexes of Delhi to extend their existing buildings by vaguely allowing individual flat owners to add more rooms, etc. while ignoring the health and safety concerns of others who prefer to live in a clean, peaceful environment. This is a blatant violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
In the case of occupied group housing societies, even when one resident objects to extended construction, it cannot be carried out because it will be the violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, besides the breach of many other existing laws.
Today, it is a known fact that most politicians in India are illiterate and bureaucrats have no domain knowledge about any modern subject that is required to provide a smooth governance to the citizens.
Now bureaucrats’ lack of knowledge in the evolving subject of environment is visible in their decision to allow FAR construction and pollution in Delhi. With an utter disregard to the environment protection needs, the Government of India is breaking its own commitment to the global community.
The Union Cabinet of India chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given its approval to ratify the Paris Agreement (on Climate Change) on 2nd October 2016, the day of Gandhi Jayanti.
But unfortunately bureaucrats – who are allowing FAR-based pollution – do not understand the effect of pollution on Climate Change. They do not understand that the main cause of global warming or the human-led Climate Change is environmental pollution which contaminates the atmosphere with pollutants such as chemicals and energies.
Pollution, therefore, has become a major factor that is causing ‘global warming’ or Climate Change. As compared to the perils of environmental pollution that affect human health, the Climate Change brings mass destruction with floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis.
As India is already experiencing a trust deficit in the global arena because of its weak environmental protection policies, the country’s position will further get damaged if the government allowed the pollution-filled extended construction activity to continue in India’s capital New Delhi.
While the court has already intervened to save the people from pollution, the Delhi Government must also immediately stop the future and ongoing FAR projects, and demolish the existing FAR constructions in occupied housing societies.
Moreover, the government should also start prosecution of the government officials at DDA and RCS offices, MC members of housing societies, and other abettors who are virtually trying to kill people with FAR-based construction and pollution. The target should be to get all the culprits arrested and jailed. The sooner the better.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.
About Rakesh Raman
Rakesh Raman is a government’s national award-winning journalist and social activist. Besides working at senior editorial positions with India’s leading media companies, he had been writing an edit-page column for The Financial Express, a business newspaper of the Indian Express group.
Nowadays, for the past about 7 years, he has been running his own global news services on different subjects. He also has formed an environment-protection group called Green Group in Delhi. He has created a comprehensive online information service to educate the Indian voters for the upcoming Lok Sabha election scheduled to happen in 2019.
He is also running an exclusive community-driven online editorial section under the banner “Clean House” to help the suffering residents of Delhi raise their voice against the growing corruption and injustice in group housing societies where millions of people live.
He has formed a free Education and Career Counselling Center for deserving children at a poor J.J. Colony in Dwarka, New Delhi under his NGO – RMN Foundation.
Earlier, 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.
463, DPS Apts., Plot No. 16, Sector 4
Dwarka, Phase I, New Delhi 110 078, INDIA
You may please contact me on my email.