Jharkhand High Court on Thursday withdrew its own stay restraining the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) and the Ranchi Regional Development Authority (RRDA) from approving any building plan including map.
The division bench comprising Justices S Chandrashekhar and Ratnakar Bhengra directed RMC and RRDA authorities to use their power in accordance with the rules and regulations.
This order of the court is expected to boost several building construction and real estate projects that had been hanging fire.
Earlier, RMC and RRDA officials had cribbed and even silently blamed the Jharkhand High Court’s order which had far-reaching implications.
One, the sale and purchase of building construction products stopped. Two, in the absence of buyers, the price of these products fell. Three, the number of applications seeking approval for building construction and real estate projects piled up at incident offices of RMC and RRDA.
This order was passed on December 2, 2022, when the court had asked the state chief secretary why not a CBI probe be ordered into ‘rampant corruption’ prevailing in these institutions involved in the approval of building construction and real estate projects.
A bench of Justices S Chandrashekhar and Ratnakar Bhengra had given this order while hearing a writ petition, arising out of a media report while reprimanding the RMC commissioner and the RRDA vice-chairman for their working style and failure to contain the rampant corruption. The high court had taken up the media report, which alleged large-scale corruption in the approval of building plans, as a writ petition.
A vernacular daily had published a report that claimed that there was a prevalent practice of approving the building plans at the rate ₹20-30 per square feet illegal money.
“Maps of those refusing the pay the bribe as per the fixed rates are objected to and disapproved. The appeals against the objections in the RRDA are not taken up until the officials are bribed,” claimed a small-time builder Pawan Kumar.
The bench remarked said that corruption was rampant in these institutions. “No action has been taken to stop corruption. Why not Shashiranjan, RMC commissioner, and Mukesh Kumar, RRDA vice chairman be suspended for their laxity and the matter probed by CBI?,” said the bench, while directing the chief secretary to report as what action did the state government took in light of the report of rampant corruption in building map approval. Municipal Commissioner Shashiranjan and RRDA vice chairman Mukesh Kumar were present in person during the hearing.
Earlier, the bench directed the RRDA and the RMC to produce the details of the junior engineers and town planners in the second session of the hearing. It was brought to the court’s notice that there has been no permanent appointment in RRDA since 1982. Likewise, no permanent appointments could be made in the municipal corporation for the last 20 years. Work is being done on a contract basis.
During the hearing, it came to light that illegal amounts are demanded in addition to the prescribed fees for map approval of buildings.
The map is not accepted if the extra amount is not paid. It is said that about the PMC authorities ask for ₹30,000-50,000 for approval of small houses while the apartment plan is charged in the range of ₹20-30 per sq ft of illegal money.
Today the same bench directed concerned authorities of the state, RMC, and RRDA to maintain transparency in approving projects and simplify the process to clear these projects.