One of the famous commercial buildings in Civil Lines Narang Towers– can be termed as mother of all regularization cases due to unique concept adopted to excuse all illegalities. The civic body not only let go of prime land and pardoned all unauthorized constructions in the building and other violations in lieu of 10,193.27 sq ft space in the towers that the builder gave civic body free of cost, in effect taking a official bribe to okay wrongdoings.
The building is situated adjacent to Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s (NMC) head office in Civil Lines. Office of the NMC’s town planning department is housed on the first floor here for many years. Everyone wonders about location of town planning department in a commercial building despite NMC having a sprawling space with four administrative buildings nearby.
When tried to find out it came up with amazing story dating back to 1996. It is known to very few officials even at the civic body. Currently, Narang Towers is a basement+ground floor+mezzanine +six floors building. It has two big shops situated at the front and many administrative offices including that of NMC and private companies in the six floors.
NMC records show, the 19,274.38 sq ft Plot No 27 bearing city survey No 1685, Khasra No 237 in Mouza Siatbuldi was supposed to be handed over to NMC. In city’s development plan (DP), the plot was reserved for commercial use with NMC as authority. NMC was supposed to acquire the land and develop commercial complex on it. The reservation came up in revised DP that came into effect in 2001.
Before 2001, the land was reserved for public institutions and offices. That too meant that the NMC should have acquired it and developed government offices on it or given to public institution. However, the NMC sanctioned basement+G+2 floor building on the plot on April 25, 1996, violating its own norms. Plan was sanctioned despite lack of mandatory NOC from ULC department.
Narang Constructions, the builder, added to violation by constructing basement+ground floor+mezzanine+six floors. Sanctioned built-up area was 24,009.43 sq.ft but Narang Constructions created 49,997.20 sq ft area, more than double the sanctioned area. During that time, no building over two floors was allowed in Civil Lines. A notice was issued to Narang Constructions for demolition of unauthorized constructions and to stop extra areas in 2000. Narang Constructions not only continued construction but also put the building to use. To regularize the unauthorized constructions, the builder submitted a revised plan. NMC rejected it and also lodged FIR against the firm with Sadar police on June 3, 2002.
The new DP came into effect in 2001. In this, the reservation of the land was mysteriously changed to commercial with NMC as authority. Narang Constructions again submitted a revised building plan. NMC engineers came up with ingenious plan. Citing some provisions in the bylaws, the NMC placed a proposal before Narang Constructions for regularization of the building. It asked the builder to hand over 8,217.08 sq ft space on first or second floor in the building free of cost with all interior works done for administrative purpose. Narang Constructions accepted the proposal to save its building but reduced the area to be given to NMC. They offered 7,503.27 sq ft on first floor along with open terrace of 2,690 sq ft.
The NMC accepted the proposal. In 2004, NMC entered into an agreement with Narang Constructions and took over entire first floor space on lease for 99 years. Then the NMC sanctioned revised building plan on August 6, 2004, that regularized all illegal construction. NMC also withdrew the cases against Narang Constructions in the district court. An engineer from Town Planning Department, on condition of anonymity, told the process adopted to regularize the building was as per provisions in the bylaws. “Almost all present engineers were not in this department at that time. Many engineers of that time have either been transferred or retired. No much details can be revealed as everything is in the files,” he said.
There are various types of violations in Narang Towers. Despite NMC’s town planning department being situated in the building itself, neither action is taken nor violations corrected. Many people come to visit the town planning department, Spanco Discom office etc. Major problem is of parking. There is no parking space in front of building for visitors as it is covered with landscaping. Basement parking is given but one way is blocked permanently. Only one route is used for entry and exit of vehicles and that too is not constructed in a proper manner creating danger of accidents. Basement parking arena is always in the dark and is not being maintained properly. There is enough space for parking of two-wheelers but nothing for four-wheelers. Two-wheelers can be seen parked in the side margin of the building causing even more congestion. Four-wheelers are parked in two lanes in locality adjacent to building creating congestion there.
A metal staircase is erected on building’s side margin and is only way to get into two big shops situated in front portion of the building. Some constructions too seem done in basement that is meant for parking.
As per NMC’s records, shops were constructed in basement parking but demolished after NMC issued a notice.