Shimla, Aug 30: The Himachal Pradesh assembly Friday passed a bill making it mandatory for builders to earmark at least 25 per cent of housing projects for economically weaker sections and state residents.
The Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill of 2013 repealed the HP Apartment and Property Regulation Act of 2005 while incorporating some of its provisions in the HP Town and Country Planning Act of 1977 by making suitable amendments.
Urban Development Minister Sudhir Sharma said the new act made it mandatory for private promoters to reserve a minimum 25 percent of their apartment flats for the economically weaker sections, low income groups and bona fide residents of the state.
In the new law, he said, the government had invoked the guidelines of the union ministry of home affairs to ensure safety of buildings and apartments from natural disasters as the state was prone to natural calamities.
Sharma hinted the government could consider one-time settlement for regularisation of buildings constructed in violation of norms across the state.
“The town and country planning policy has been amended five times over the years, but the issue (regularisation) could not be addressed. We will see how to go about it now. Whether the policy has to be changed or a new Act is required,” he said.
He said in the amendment bill the apartments could still be constructed, but now the builders cannot escape the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act even if they go for construction of colonies in rural areas.
“Earlier, they resorted to such measures. Now the provisions of Town and Country Planning automatically apply on them which ever area they go for construction,” the minister said.
He said the bill was strict and had inherent provisions to check violations.
He said the government had brought the bill after considering 13 recommendations by the select committee of the Vidhan Sabha in 2009, which had looked into the apartment and property regulation act as there were complaints of violation of act provisions.
BJP member Suresh Bhardwaj said: “I am surprised that while the select committee had already recommended to repeal the apartment act, the present Congress government gave permissions to some builders as per the same act.”
“This should have been avoided especially when the committee was formed at the instance of Congress (then in opposition) and it was the Congress which had been raising much hullaballoo over several permissions for apartments,” he added.