HC clears the path for Akrama Sakrama in Karnataka

With the high court clearing the decks for the implementation of the Akrama Sakrama scheme, the government hopes that more people will come forward to benefit from the scheme which allows property owners to regularise their constructions which violated building bye-laws.

Only 37 people had shown interest in the scheme after the government published the rules on May 28, 2014 under the Karnataka Town and Country Planning (Regularisation of Unauthorised Development or Constructions) which gave a provision for citizens to make use of it within one year. In fact, that tenure has already expired on March 22, 2016.

Last year, the high court had asked the civic agency to distribute applications for the scheme, but not to initiate it. Since then, 2037 people had taken the applications from various BBMP offices, but only 37 had reverted. But now, with the decks cleared for the scheme to take off, the government is set to issue a notification for a new cut-off date for submission of application. It expects that more people will come forward to get the benefits of the scheme.

Deviations in building constructions are common in urban areas of the state, including Bengaluru, and this scheme to regularise them will bring in considerable revenue for the state. The BBMP is expecting Rs 600 crore revenue generation from the scheme and a total revenue boost of Rs 5,000-6,000 crore in the form of property tax.

Speaking to media, BBMP commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said: “The provision for submitting the application was made only for one year and that has already expired. Once the court order is received, the government will issue a new notification in a day or two with a new date for submission of applications. Once it is clear, then BBMP will start the process.”

Provision for making online applications
Meanwhile, Prasad said that once the new notification is issued, BBMP will make arrangements for submission of applications online to the officials.
“We will undertake the online and offline process along with the set of documents which the applicant needs to submit. After the application is received, revenue department officials will scrutinise it and then both engineering and revenue department will conduct inspections to ensure that the claim made by applicant is correct.”

“As the applicant has to self-declare the deviation along with the prescribed fees and if any differences are noticed after inspection, the applicant will be asked to pay the difference amount. Once the entire procedure is completed, then the commissioner will issue the order for regularisation,” he added.
Meanwhile, he said that the training process for both revenue and engineering officers will be undertaken to enable them to know the rules. “Once a publicity drive is undertaken we will take up the new application, after government issues a news notification,” Prasad maintained.

‘More of a political tool’
The Akrama-Sakrama scheme will be a boon for those living in unauthorized construction, but it will lead to a whole lot of new problems, say those in the realty sector. Prashanth Sambargi of Mars Realty said while the scheme will be good for the state exchequer, it will open up new avenues for corruption by officials.

“The scheme allows for red-tapism and you will have to pander to the demand of officials to get benefits of the scheme. My only question to the state government is will it reward those who have followed the law with a tax rebate? The scheme is more of a political tool than urban planning and city development programme,” he said. However, Sambargi said that it will bring real estate under the ambit of legal transactions.

“Akrama-Sakrama is a much-needed impetus for the bleeding real estate sector in Karnataka. The state government can now bring unauthorised construction under the taxation system. For a common man it’s a plain vanilla scheme for regularisation of his property and making his property on par with a BDA developed property. There will be no stigma attached to his property. Regularised property will command market price and banks will come forward to provide loans.”

Not applicable to construction on encroached land
Regularising deviations does not include encroachments in all urban local bodies, including Bengaluru. If any property or apartment or individual house is constructed on an encroached land, then it is not entitled to be included under Akrama-Sakrama scheme. Properties constructed on encroaching a part of footpath, park, lake land, storm water drain will also not be considered and moreover they will have to face strict action from the BBMP.

Property details in Bengaluru
* Violation range – residential upto 50 per cent, commercial upto 25 per cent
* Total properties in BBMP – 16.75 lakh
* Taxable properties – 13.82 lakh
* Residential – 10.19 lakh (73.74 per cent)
* Commercial – 1.34 lakh (9.69 per cent)
* Mixed properties – 0.61 lakh (4.69 per cent)
* Outside tax net – 2.93 lakh (17.49 per cent)
* Tax expected after regularisation — Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 crore

Check whether you fall under these three categories
1 Property constructed without sanctioned plan and also in violation of the zoning regulations.
2 Property constructed with the required approval but there are violations related to zoning regulation.
3 Construction undertaken without any permission, but has followed zoning regulation.

12-year Journey
2004 – Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act amended to regularise unauthorised constructions
2007 – High Court stays it, terms it unconstitutional
2009 – State govt plans Bill on Akrama-Sakrama. Expects Rs 10,000 crore revenue
Jan12, 2010 – Cabinet decides to issue an ordinance instead of a Bill
July, 2010 – Governor rejects proposal
July, 2010 – Assembly passes Akrama-Sakrama Bill 2009
Sept, 2010 – Governor rejects Bill citing cases pending before HC

2013 – Congress Govt decides to issue new ordinance. Allows previous BJP government’s law to lapse
Oct19, 2013 – Ordinance issued for amendment to Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act. Amended ‘Akrama-Sakrama’ has Governor’s approval
2014 – Government brings Akrama-Sakrama rule; Karnataka Town and Country Planning (Regularisation of Unauthorised Development or Constructions) Rules, 2014
2015 – Government issues notification for Akrama-Sakrama. The scheme is for one year between March 23, 2015 and March 22, 2016.
2015 – Several petitions filed in High Court against the scheme, calling it unconstitutional.
March 2015 – High Court allows citizens to file applications but tells government not to process it till the case is decided.

Top queries
What does the term mean?
Akrama means illegal and Sakrama means legal, and this is exactly what it does. It allows property owners to regularise their building bye-law deviations by paying the prescribed penalties.

How it impacts you?
Suppose you have purchased a flat in a violated apartment then you are not entitled to get ‘A’ Khata, and you cannot pledge it as collateral to get a loan from a bank. Further, if you are not issued ‘A’ Khata by the civic agency, no buyers will come forward to buy the property.

What is the extent of violation and properties likely to be affected?
According to BBMP, around 80 per cent of the 16.75 lakh properties in the city have one or the other form of construction deviation from the plan approved by the BBMP. The most common deviations pertain to setback area and floor area ratio. Of the number of properties 13.82 lakh are under property tax net. According to BBMP, around 11 lakh property holders have ‘A’ Khata while 2.86 lakh are ‘B’ Khata holders. Another 2.5 lakh properties including vacant land are yet to be covered under the tax net.

What triggered the deviations?
It was a combo of greed and god. Desperate to make quick bucks, a majority of the builders ended up constructing a minimum of two-three floors more than what the BBMP’s sanctioned plan prescribed for the apartment complex. Secondly, a majority of the independent house owners changed the approved building plan following advice from vaastu experts.

What’s the penalty?
The act provides for regularisation of residential buildings with up to 50 percent irregularity and commercial buildings with up to 25 per cent irregularity. Six per cent of the guidance value of the irregular portion of a residential building will be charged as penalty if the violation is 25 percent and less and eight per cent of the irregular portion would be charged if the violation exceeds 25 per cent but does not exceed 50 per cent. Twenty per cent of the market value would be charged for the violations up to 12.5 percent in the commercial buildings and thirty five percent, if the violation is more than that cut off.

Who will benefit?
Small builders and small property owners will benefit from the scheme. According to the BBMP town planning officials, mostly the credai members (builders) don’t undertake any construction against the bye-laws. The small builders who take small project always violate to get good profit margin out of small property.

Who can apply?
According to the notification, any person seeking regularisation of the irregular building has to file an application before the prescribed authority within one year from the commencement of the act.

What is the govt’s role in scheme?
As the BBMP has already received applications from March 23, 2015 till the specified date of March 22, 2016 – it had distributed around 2037 applications while only 37 people had applied. Now, the state cabinet has to meet and take a decision on extension of cut-off date (earlier it was October 2013) and also an announcement on fresh applications to be received.

What next?
After the High Court’s nod, the 37 pending application can be processed while others need to wait for the new date to be announced by government.

Experts Speak
* People are violating construction norms left-right-centre, thinking that one fine day Akrama-Sakrama will come to their rescue. But instead, the government should ensure that everyone follows the rules. There is no point framing bye-laws without the enforcement mechanism. The government should not give sanitary, water and power connections to any kind of property unless occupancy certificate is issued.
Naresh Narasimhan, urban planner and architect

* It’s a bad idea to implement Akrama-Sakrama as it does not have any vision. It is not comprehensive. Basically what they (government) are saying is that in certain aspects Akrama-Sakrama can be done as they claim that illegal constructions have taken place in the entire state. But who will give guarantee that illegal constructions won’t take place in the future? By implementing Akrama-Sakrama you are sending signals stating that illegal construction can easily be regularised
Aswhin Mahesh, Technologist

* It is a failure of officials who have allowed people to deviate from plan. Recently officials took up a storm water drain encroachment removal drive after the city got flooded, but this should have been done at the initial stage itself. They should not have allowed encroachments. Likewise, they should have not allowed deviation in constructions and demolished properties at initial stage itself to avoid huge illegal constructions. At least now, they should start action immediately, but it will be a difficult call. In principle, this call would be a bad one.
A Ravindra, former chief secretary

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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