Join RAFAR to Save People from FAR Construction and Pollution in Delhi
When governments betray their people, it becomes the responsibility of the people to protest and dethrone the governments. ~ Rakesh Raman
October 10, 2018
With ill-conceived FAR (floor area ratio) 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.
If you want to stop FAR construction in your housing society, you should join RAFAR (Residents Against FAR) which is a group of Delhi residents who want to stop FAR construction and dust pollution in the city.
By Rakesh Raman
Brief Facts of FAR Construction Fraud
- The FAR extended construction in the inhabited cooperative group housing societies (CGHS) of Delhi is an extended form of corruption that is already happening in the societies.
- As the administrative systems in Delhi have completely collapsed, the bureaucrats and politicians are not taking decisions to help suffering people. They force people to go to courts. But if courts have to do everything, why do we need careless government officials?
- As a journalist and social activist, I have been running major campaigns to stop FAR construction, corruption, and pollution in Delhi.
- In order to thwart my anti-corruption and environment protection efforts, the corrupt people are sending multiple threats to me. These include false police complaints against me, threats of physical harm to me, expulsion notices, legal notices, and slanderous attacks on my social as well as professional status. But I am not deterred and I will keep fighting truthfully against their crimes and corruption to get the culprits arrested and imprisoned.
- As FAR construction breaks many extant laws, it is a totally illegal activity. In an ongoing case, the Delhi High Court has stopped FAR construction which was happening in a housing society of Dwarka because of its harmful pollution and violation of many other laws. You can check out Case No. W.P.(C) 286/2018 on Delhi High Court website.
- If the court has stopped FAR construction in one society, it does not mean it will be stopped in other societies. Dozens of people from different housing societies of Delhi contact me to discuss their FAR cases. I have observed that most of them do not have sufficient knowledge to explain their cases. They lack communication / writing skills and their documentation to stop FAR in their societies is also not complete. Such cases will get defeated in the court.
- If you want to stop FAR, you and your family members must join the RAFAR (Residents Against FAR) group and work collectively in the campaign against FAR. All residents of Delhi who want to protect environment can join this group. Details are given below.
- The current phase of FAR construction is being pursued by the corrupt managing committee (MC) members of housing societies on the basis of a vague government notification of 2016. This notification does not overrule the earlier notification from the office of Lt. Governor of Delhi that states FAR is not allowed in occupied housing societies.
- Most corrupt MC members – who are even facing government-ordered corruption inquiries – are fraudulently appointing architect firms / builders to start FAR construction in which there is a huge opportunity for them to swindle public money.
- In some cases, the corrupt MC members are deceptively linking FAR construction with building repairs in order to extort money from all the members – including those who oppose FAR construction.
- The FAR-related corruption is supported by two of the most corrupt departments of Delhi: the Registrar Cooperative Societies (RCS) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA).
- If you want to fully understand the criminality in FAR construction and corruption, you can click here to study the case of DPS CGHS, which is perhaps the most corrupt society in Delhi.
Criminality in FAR Construction
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The saying fits well for Delhi’s naive politicians and bureaucrats who are hell-bent to kill the local citizens by spreading construction dust and pollution in every nook of the city.
The extended building construction which is happening under the government’s cruel FAR (floor area ratio) rules is going to harm millions of 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 polluted FAR construction in inhabited housing complexes – where people are living – is being compared to the poisonous gas chambers used by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust for the genocide of millions of European Jews.
As the total corruption money in FAR construction activity is estimated to be thousands of crores of rupees, the corrupt officials of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) are blatantly breaking many laws to give approval for illegal FAR projects in different housing societies of Delhi.
While Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) and Delhi Fire Service (DFS) – which are also among the most corrupt departments – are giving approvals blindly, they are part of this FAR construction racket.
The new FAR scheme vaguely allows inhabited group housing complexes of Delhi to extend their existing buildings by 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.
Besides dust pollution, the construction activity also causes noise pollution with constant hammering in houses. It will obviously disturb sick and elderly residents (senior citizens) as well as students who stay at their homes.
Recently, Delhi High Court has stopped FAR construction which was happening in a housing society of Dwarka because of its harmful pollution and other factors. The court stopped FAR construction even when the managing committee (MC) of the society claimed it has the consent of the majority of members. You can yourself check out Case No. W.P.(C) 286/2018 on Delhi High Court website. But the corrupt government officials and MC members are ignoring court orders to carry out FAR construction.
Fraudulent Decisions of MCs
While MCs of different housing societies operate as money-grabbing gangs, they claim that they have received DDA approval for FAR construction. But they are misleading the members to grab their money.
In fact, the so-called FAR approval letter is a conditional document being sent by DDA with 26 conditions. You can read it for yourself. DDA has clearly stated that
“Any deviation done against the bye-laws is liable to be demolished and the supervising Architect, engaged on the job will run the risk of having his license cancelled.”
The cunning DDA officials are trying to wash their hands of the illegal FAR scheme by giving the conditional letter to housing societies and blaming the MCs and the architect for this criminal activity.
While most residents – who oppose FAR – do not have knowledge to find out if any of the 26 conditions specified by DDA are violated by their MC, the construction will continue, although it is illegal. The MCs that are pursuing FAR are, in fact, cheating the residents and circumventing the law.
As MCs are giving wrong undertakings at DDA to get the conditional letter, they will never be able to fulfill DDA’s 26 conditions and the illegal FAR construction should stop, as it has happened in the case where the court has stopped FAR construction.
As DDA has stated, FAR is possible as separate blocks without disturbing the existing flats only when all the members (100% members) in a society agree for FAR. If only one member does not want FAR construction, it cannot be started in a society building. You can read below the DDA / government rule:
“The existing societies cannot be allowed to extend the structures as this would undermine the strength of the building and put people’s lives at risk… If even a single flat owner disagrees (for FAR), the proposal would have to be shelved (canceled).”
In order to take DDA’s permission fraudulently, the corrupt MCs are bribing DDA officials and giving wrong undertakings in DDA that all the members are in favour of FAR. They are also depositing money for all the members while a large number of members are not in favor of FAR.
By depositing money for all members, the MCs give wrong information in DDA that all members are in favor of FAR. DDA gives approvals based on the information supplied by MC members. As DDA officials are bribed, they do not bother to verify the veracity of MCs’ claims.
The MCs recover the money paid in bribes from the members by quoting inflated costs for repairs and construction. For example, the construction cost in Delhi is just about Rs. 1,200 per sq. ft. But in some cases, the corrupt MC members are charging rates as high as Rs. 7,000 per sq. ft.
When they are challenged, they split the inflated costs in frivolous construction / repair activities and get their decisions approved in fraudulently held GBMs (General Body Meetings) in which the voting members are usually bribed to get illegal decisions approved.
The FAR construction is also illegal because it violates Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and breaks a number of other laws such as the Unified Building Bye Laws (UBBL), the Delhi Apartment Ownership Act, Delhi Fire Service Rules, National Building Code, and many other regulations.
Since Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is the fundamental right of every citizen, its violation is a crime even when the majority of members in a housing society opt for FAR construction. Therefore, the majority argument is invalid and meaningless in this case.
All such factors must be included in your case if you are trying to stop FAR construction in your society. And in order to inflict maximum damage on the MCs and members who support FAR, you should file your case in the court when the construction has begun.
While FAR construction is illegal, the members who pay money to their MC will be participating in MC’s fraud, and those members will also face prosecution and possible imprisonment for abetment to crime.
Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 107, “a person becomes liable as an abettor if he/she instigates another to commit a crime, or engages in a conspiracy with another to commit a crime and some act is done in furtherance of such conspiracy or if he/she intentionally aids another in order to facilitate the commission of a crime.”
Therefore, the members / residents are advised that they should not become abettors by giving any money to their MC for FAR construction or related repairs because it is an illegal scheme. Also, the members / residents who have already given money to their MC for FAR construction or such repairs should take their money back.
When the FAR construction will be stopped before completion as it is happening under court order, the members who pay for FAR will lose their money and they will also have to pay for demolition of the illegal construction, besides other legal penalties.
Under partial construction, the buildings will have an ugly appearance and they will become disputed properties. Then it will be extremely difficult for flat owners to sell their flats. Even tenants will not be interested to live in such ruined buildings.
Construction and Corruption
But why is the Indian / Delhi Government watching quietly when millions of people in Delhi are facing a silent death? Answer: Corruption. The sudden surge in extended construction activity – which also includes redevelopment of housing complexes – is being driven by a criminal nexus between builders and corrupt Indian bureaucrats as well as politicians.
As the MCs of housing societies – which are governed by the Registrar Cooperative Societies (RCS) of the Delhi Government – are also mostly corrupt, they are forcing the residents to accept extended construction.
Estimates suggest that the extended construction and building redevelopment projects in Delhi’s Dwarka – which is said to be the largest residential suburb in Asia – alone are worth more than $4 billion (Rs. 30,000 crore approximately). The value of such projects in the city of Delhi is estimated to be around $50 billion while the construction activity will run for at least five more years – till 2023.
The builders and MCs of housing societies need various government permissions before starting the extended construction activity. They usually bribe the government officials – particularly in DDA – to get clearances illegally and start construction.
The corrupt DDA officials are ignoring the court orders and other laws as they are hell-bent to allow FAR construction because it gives them a huge opportunity for corruption. They have gone so berserk that they have made a mockery of even the RTI (Right to Information) which is an Act of the Parliament of India. Under this Act, any citizen of India can seek information from a government department which is required to reply within 30 days.
In my RTI application, I had asked for the list of those occupied cooperative group housing societies for which FAR (floor area ratio) extension proposals have been received, approved, and rejected by the DDA during the years 2016 and 2017.
After many months, DDA informed me through a letter dated May 18, 2018 that it does not have any such list in its record. How can it be possible that DDA has not kept the record of proposals that have been submitted to it? It shows the crude and dishonest way in which DDA works.
Since DDA was not willing to stop FAR construction despite its lethality, I approached the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) – which is supposed to check corruption in government departments – with the request to investigate the role of concerned DDA officials in FAR projects. The CVC has directed DDA to hold an inquiry, but I have not been informed about the progress of the inquiry.
FAR construction in occupied group housing societies is a big racket supported by DDA while the Delhi High Court has stopped FAR construction. Unfortunately, DDA is not responding positively to my repeated complaints and allowing FAR construction and pollution in occupied group housing societies because there is a big opportunity for corruption.
As corruption is increasing in DDA, reports suggest that DDA has planned to fix responsibility on its officials in cases of illegal construction activities and violation of the master plan and building bye-laws in Delhi.
In this regard, recently DDA placed an action plan before the Supreme Court of India. Attorney General K. K. Venugopal, who appeared for DDA, told the bench that rampant corruption is happening in DDA and stringent measures need to be taken to stop this corruption.
In its action plan, DDA has stated that it intends to check all ongoing and future unauthorized constructions in the city under the supervision of a Special Task Force (STF) which has been constituted following an apex court order.
Moreover, with an emphasis on preventive vigilance, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is developing an Integrity Index for critical organizations. Initially 25 organizations have been selected for the development of the Index. Obviously, because of its corruption, DDA is among these organizations.
A huge part of the corruption money goes to Indian bureaucrats and politicians who are allowing this illegal activity to happen while depriving citizens of their right to pollution-free living guaranteed under the Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
As most politicians in India are corrupt and history-sheeters with serious criminal records, they use the corruption money to win elections by bribing the voters and tampering with electronic voting machines (EVMs). They also use corruption money for horse trading of legislators during elections.
The police and law-enforcement agencies are reluctant to take action against the crimes of MCs of housing societies because they are supported by deep-pocket builders and corrupt Indian bureaucrats and politicians.
Various government departments in Delhi are so careless that they are ignoring the advice of specialized pollution-control agencies such as the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) which has warned them about the risks of extended construction and pollution.
In August 2017, DPCC wrote a letter to the Vice Chairman (DDA), Commissioner (South Delhi Municipal Corporation), Sub Divisional Magistrate (Dwarka, Delhi), and Delhi Police Commissioner to take action in order to stop FAR extended construction and pollution. But all these departments simply ignored the DPCC advice and pollution is increasing.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) of India – established under India’s constitutional provision of Article 21 – has also observed that one of the major sources of air pollution is dust emission from construction activities, which must be stopped to avoid pollution-related diseases and deaths. But the corrupt government departments which are giving permissions for this avoidable construction have even ignored the NGT directive.
Although FAR construction and pollution will affect all men, women, and children, it is extremely harmful to senior citizens (people above 60 years of age) because of their weaker immune systems.
They will not be able to recover from ailments – such as asthma, bronchitis, airway inflammation, coughing, and wheezing – caused by high levels of dust pollution. The situation will get worse for the senior citizens when they will not be able to bear the health care costs for the increased physical disorders from such pollution.
Join RAFAR (Residents Against FAR) Group
While I have been single-handedly running major campaigns to stop FAR construction and pollution in Delhi, you are requested to support me in this effort so that we could work together to save the lives of millions of people in Delhi. You can join the RAFAR group that I have formed by filling in a simple online form and work actively for the group activities.
As the pollution from construction activity will harm all the people in and around Delhi, the residents who are not directly affected by FAR construction can also become RAFAR members to support the campaign to stop FAR construction and pollution. All family members in a family can participate in this environment protection activity.
As FAR construction in housing societies will happen in different parts of Delhi, nearly 5 million senior citizens are virtually facing a painful death. And there is no government existing in Delhi that cares for these harmed senior citizens. All their requests to the Delhi Government and the Government of India to save them from harmful dust and noise pollution have been falling on deaf ears.
Although the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 – initiated by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India – is supposed to provide “simple, speedy and inexpensive mechanism for the protection of life and property of the older persons,” it is a completely ineffective piece of legislation.
The senior citizens say they have been running from pillar to post to get extended construction stopped in group housing societies, but the authorities have refused to listen to them.
The concerned government departments and the MCs of group housing societies offer an invalid argument that if majority of the members in a society support extended construction decision, the other residents will have to accept it.
How is that possible? If the decision of the majority of members is unlawful and driven by greed and not by need, it cannot be imposed on others who want to live peacefully in a harmless environment.
While MCs contend that the majority of members support them in General Body Meetings (GBMs), their majority argument is meaningless. By this weird logic, if majority of the members say that they should kill others, will the MC of a society kill the innocent people? The majority rule cannot apply in such cases where even one person’s life is at risk.
The case in which the Delhi High Court has stopped FAR construction, the majority of the members were in favour of FAR while only a couple of members filed the case and got FAR construction stopped.
Moreover, most MCs of group housing societies are controlled by criminals who win the vote and support of other law-breaking residents / members in elections and GBMs by allowing them many illegal activities such as unauthorized car parking inside the society buildings, illegal alterations in individual flats, lavish late-night drink parties, and so on. This is a kind of corruption and bribe to get others’ support.
Thus, these MCs get even the illegal decisions (such as the FAR-based extended construction) approved in GBMs – which are in fact bogus meetings. Obviously, the GBM decisions cannot be imposed on other members.
But the Delhi Government departments such as the DDA and the office of Registrar Cooperative Societies (RCS) have refused to acknowledge this fact and they are accepting the fraudulent decisions taken by MCs in bogus GBMs.
Government fails to understand that adding more rooms to existing rooms in a flat cannot be a need – particularly when most residents have very small families. It will also widen the rich-poor gap in a country where millions of people are still homeless and some rich are making more rooms which they do not need.
The decision for harmful construction of MCs can be construed as an attempt to murder, as the construction-related pollution, disturbance, and possible accidents can kill innocent human beings.
The different society MCs also say that the government rules allow such extended construction. But, in fact, these rules are environmentally hazardous and will harm the health and lives of people living in the society building. No government in the world can make any rule that is aimed to kill its own citizens. Will the Delhi / Indian Government kill its own people?
FAR Construction Not Allowed in Occupied Housing Societies
As their eyes are on making easy money from high-value construction projects, the MCs of group housing societies are misleading the residents by saying that government has allowed extended construction.
But the government had clearly stated that extended construction under floor area ratio (FAR) rules is not allowed in already constructed and occupied group housing societies.
A government notification from the office of the Lt. Governor of Delhi states that “it has been decided in public interest that increased FAR should not be permitted in respect of already constructed and occupied CGHS (cooperative group housing societies).”
Many MCs baselessly argue that it is an old rule. But the point is that this rule was made keeping in view the “public interest” because extended construction will be harmful in occupied housing complexes. Then how can the “public interest” concern suddenly disappear after a few years? Answer: Corruption and bureaucratic carelessness.
Today, it is a known fact that most politicians in India are illiterate and bureaucrats have no knowledge about any modern subject that is required to provide a smooth governance to the citizens. This fact is reflected in the worsening Human Development Index (HDI) of India.
Published by the United Nations Development Programme, HDI indicates the level of skills in a country and lets you know if people in that country are able to perform their duties effectively. Unfortunately, India falls at No. 130 in the global list of countries ranked on the basis of their HDI.
Clean House Anti-Corruption Service
As millions of common residents are victims of the terror unleashed by the MC members of different housing societies, I have started an exclusive community-driven social service under the banner “Clean House” to help the suffering residents raise their voice against the growing corruption and injustice in cooperative group housing societies where millions of people live.
Government Damaging the Environment
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.
Killing Effects of Pollution
- Air pollution directly causes 3,000 premature deaths in Delhi every year.
- The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has released an environment survey revealing that 5-10% of the national capital’s workforce was sick due to respiratory problems – which is damaging the Indian economy.
- Assocham also said air pollution is preventing workers from doing their jobs efficiently, which is affecting industrial productivity in India.
- While increasing pollution will adversely impact tourism industry, most investors will be reluctant to invest in India.
- Pollution kills 1.2 million Indians every year and costs the economy an estimated 3% of GDP.
- Hundreds of thousands of people – particularly farmers – in India are always under the threat of environmental hazards such as floods and droughts caused by Climate Change.
- There are interlinkages between greenhouse gases, Climate Change and air quality. Many air pollutants that are harmful to human health and ecosystems also contribute to Climate Change.
- Atmospheric / construction dust causes a whopping 38% of pollution.
- Apart from vehicular pollution, there are damaging thermal effects of dust on climate. Research reveals that dust-related atmospheric aerosol pollution has a hazardous effect on climate.
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 polluted FAR extended construction activity to continue in India’s capital New Delhi.
The government’s oblique permission to allow extended construction in the existing upmarket flats is not addressing any housing needs in the country where millions of people are still homeless. People who prefer clean environment suggest that the government should only focus on addressing the housing needs of homeless poor by building new low-cost houses for them. The affluent people should not be allowed to expand their swanky flats because such an expansion will be risky for people living in the buildings.
With these facts, residents urge the Delhi Government and the Government of India to immediately issue clear instructions to stop the extended construction activity in group housing societies of Delhi.
If the avoidable construction is carried out in the group housing complexes where people – men, women, and children – are already living, it will deprive them of their right to live in a clean, peaceful environment.
However, the politicians and bureaucrats are working in a totally irresponsible manner as they are not taking any steps to stop construction-related dust and noise pollution.
If any government exists in Delhi and it wants to save its own people, it must immediately stop FAR construction in group housing societies. The government must clarify its decision on extended construction through advertisements in leading newspapers and information on government’s own websites.
Moreover, the Delhi government must also change the Cooperative Societies Rules so that the MCs should be allowed to use the majority vote only for simple, non-financial decisions. The MCs should not be allowed to impose their ill will on others, as they are doing in the FAR construction cases.
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.
You can read the e-book version of this report which is given below. Click the “Fullscreen” box to increase the size of the e-book.
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 over 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 is running a community-driven free online social service 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 edits The Integrity Bulletin newsletter which covers corruption issues in India and abroad.
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 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.