The Department of Forest & Wildlife of the Delhi Government has found that a tree offence has been committed by the MC members of the Kamakshi housing society in Dwarka. DDA’s role is also being questioned.
By Rakesh Raman
The conflicts between the political and administrative top brass in Delhi have reached such a confusing stage that now the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing in government departments.
Case in point: Environment protection. The Lt. Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal is shouting from the rooftops that he will control lethal dust and air pollution in Delhi.
But the politicians in the Delhi Government headed by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal are sitting like lame ducks without implementing the pollution-control plans. The less said about the Municipal Corporations of Delhi, the better. Pollution is spreading like a pandemic disease.
Worse, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which is known for its notoriety, is hell-bent to damage the environment. Despite numerous complaints by the residents, DDA is giving permissions for illegal construction which is spreading unchecked dust and noise pollution in Delhi.
It is pertinent to state here that the Lt. Governor of Delhi who is making armchair policies to control pollution is also the chairman of DDA which is responsible for spreading pollution. Strange but true.
Kamakshi Apartments Case
In an ongoing case, the residents of Kamakshi Apartments (Plot No. 28, Sector 6, Dwarka, New Delhi) complain that the managing committee (MC) of their housing society has blatantly broken the environment protection laws and is trying to connive with the DDA officials for a massive construction project in the Society building.
As millions of common residents in Delhi are victims of the terror unleashed by the corrupt MC members of different cooperative group housing societies, I have started an exclusive editorial section under the banner “Clean House” to help the suffering residents raise their voice against the growing injustice.
If you want Clean House to report about corruption and other illegal activities happening in your housing society, you may please contact me with relevant documents and details.
The Department of Forest & Wildlife of the Delhi Government has found that a tree offence has been committed by the MC of the Kamakshi Apartments / Grih Mantralaya housing society.
The Department has served a notice under DPTA (Delhi Preservation of Trees Act) to Society President R.C. Khatri. The trees are being cut in the Society to start an avoidable construction project under the dubious FAR (floor area ratio) rules.
While the Society has already committed a tree offence, strangely it has applied to the Department of Forest & Wildlife for cutting six more trees in order to carry out the FAR construction project which – according to the complaint – is illegal because it does not satisfy the DDA guidelines.
In order to take DDA’s views, the Department of Forest & Wildlife has written a letter to the Dy. Director (Land) in the Building Section of DDA. However, it is learnt that DDA has not yet responded to the complaint.
FAR Construction and Corruption
Although the FAR construction in occupied group housing societies is illegal because it spreads enormous amounts of deadly dust and noise pollution which is harmful to men, women, and children living in the buildings, unfortunately DDA is still giving permissions for such dangerous construction.
As the high-value FAR construction projects, which will run for many years, give an opportunity to Society MCs and DDA officials to make easy money, residents lament that DDA is bending its building rules to give FAR permissions.
Residents tell RMN News Service that the DDA officials are blatantly violating environment and building laws to grant permissions for illegal FAR construction work in occupied housing societies.
Earlier, in a similar case, the residents of R. D. Apartments in Dwarka had informed RMN News Service that DDA officials have granted illegal sanction in their building for extended construction under FAR rules.
The residents allege that “the sanction order is in flagrant violation of the provisions of Unified Building Bye Laws (UBBL-2016) and it is a blatant, deliberate and intentional dereliction of duty by the DDA officials.”
However, the DDA clarified that it is following the UBBL-2016 while giving FAR permissions. In a letter written to RMN News Service, DDA also suggested that it is the responsibility of Registrar Cooperative Societies (RCS) of Delhi Government to control corruption in group housing societies. DDA may be right.
However, the RCS office has been repeatedly ignoring complaints from residents of different societies in Delhi and is not quite eager to take action against the corrupt MC members. As a result, corruption in housing societies is increasing exponentially.
The Kamakshi Apartments / Grih Mantralaya housing society residents also complain that the DDA officials have granted sanctions for FAR construction while the Delhi Fire Service as well as the Department of Forest & Wildlife have raised serious objections and found extreme lawlessness in the proposed construction project.
Residents argue that instead of investigating the corruption allegations against DDA officials and rejecting future FAR construction proposals, the top DDA officers have preferred to turn a blind eye to all the misdeeds of their staff.
Failure of RCS Office
Now it is being observed that most cooperative group housing societies have become part of the racket being run by the DDA and other corrupt government departments. But the RCS office has failed to stop corruption in these housing societies.
In fact, the MC members of societies have started earmarking funds to pay bribes to DDA officials and other departments. For example, DPS Cooperative Group Housing Society in Dwarka, agreed to pay Rs. 8 lakh as “liasioning fee” to the fraudulently appointed architect firm for getting approvals from DDA and other authorities.
One fails to understand if the MC’s proposals / drawings are genuine and legal, why it is paying the liasioning fee for getting the statutory approvals. In all probability, the architect firm will pay this money as bribes to government officials to get approvals illegally.
While the RCS office knows about the numerous cases of corruption and other illegal activities at the DPS Housing Society, it has not yet taken any action against the accused MC members.
A similar FAR construction project is being planned at New Ashiana Housing Society in Dwarka where DDA approvals will be needed. The residents of the Society allege that the MC got the project approved in a deceptive General Body Meeting (GBM) – as it is happening in most other societies.
They have urged the RCS office to intervene and stop “blackmailing and extortion” being committed by their MC members. The RCS office – as usual – has not taken any action against the MC members while the residents are suffering.
The residents of Kamakshi Apartments / Grih Mantralaya housing society also expect the RCS office to tame the MC members. Moreover, they say that the DDA should not give any permission for FAR construction because it will violate the DPTA. If DDA allows FAR construction, its officials should be questioned for complicity in the offence.
The DPTA gives the law-enforcement officers power to arrest the culprits without warrant. It specifies that a designated Tree Officer, Forest Officer, or a Police Officer, without a warrant, can arrest any person reasonably suspected of having been concerned in any offence under this Act.
In the Kamakshi Apartments case, the notice issued to Society President R.C. Khatri states that “tree(s) has / have been damaged / cut in violation of Delhi Preservation of Trees Act (DPTA), 1994.”
It is, therefore, expected that the law-enforcement officers will follow DPTA and arrest the culprits.
DO NOT CALL PUBLIC TO GOVERNMENT OFFICES
As most bureaucrats and politicians in India are uneducated or they lack domain expertise, they do not know how to use information technology-based systems such as emails, social media, and Video Conferencing to deliver citizen services. They also lack communication skills that are required to respond to public complaints over digital channels.
These bureaucrats and politicians shamelessly call common people – including women and senior citizens – to their offices to hear their complaints which are hardly resolved. It is estimated that nearly one-third of the traffic on roads is of people who go to meet government officials while all these meetings can be avoided by using digital communication channels. This avoidable traffic is also increasing pollution levels in the city.
While bureaucrats and politicians work like viceroys of the British colonial era, they take sadistic pleasure when people stand outside their offices and bow in front of them. These forced official meetings are also increasing corruption which is already rampant in government offices.
The eCommittee of the Supreme Court of India and the Department of Justice (DoJ) of the Government of India have observed these difficulties that commoners are facing.
The eCourts Mission Mode Project – which is a national eGovernance project for technology enablement of courts in the country – encourages the use of digital technology including Video Conferencing to resolve different cases.
Therefore, the government officials who do not know how to use digital systems to provide government services have no right to call public to their offices. The government should also terminate the services of such naive officials.
In the case of housing societies, the offices like the RCS and DDA which are known for their corrupt practices should never call common people or complainants to meet their officials. They can call only the accused managing committee (MC) members to question them.
While the current online complaint filing systems in government offices are utterly useless, there is a need to create dynamic digital interfaces where the complainants should be able to monitor the movement of their complaints at every stage along with official remarks.
Such interfaces will also increase transparency and reveal the performance of government officials for delivering online citizen services.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. Besides working at senior editorial positions with leading media companies, he was writing an exclusive edit-page tech business column (named Technophile) regularly for The Financial Express (a daily business newspaper of The Indian Express Group).
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. He also runs a free school for deserving children under his NGO – RMN Foundation.
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