Panchkula stilt plus four: For damage to neighbours’ houses, HC tells plot owners to deposit ₹15L
Two petitions were from one Shantanu Singh, a Sector-4 resident, Panchkula, and Poonam Aggarwal, a Sector-7 resident. As per their petitions in high court, their houses have got damaged due to construction by adjoining plot holders.
In a major breather for Panchkula residents whose houses were damaged due to construction in adjoining plots, the Punjab and Haryana high court (HC), in two cases, has asked the neighbours who carried out such constructions, to deposit ₹15 lakh with the HC registry.
The petitions were from one Shantanu Singh, a Sector-4 resident and Poonam Aggarwal, a Sector-7 resident. As per their petitions in high court, their houses have got damaged due to construction by adjoining plot holders. They had approached Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) against the construction by neighbours but the HSVP kept on dilly-dallying the matter, thus compounding the damages. Most such constructions have been carried out under stilt plus four floors policy in several sectors of Panchkula.
The matter had reached HC in September 2022, when Shantanu Singh approached the court seeking compensation for the damages caused by his neighbours. Subsequently, the HC had stayed the construction activity. Acting on the plea from the one of the neighbours seeking vacation of stay on construction, the HC has now asked him to deposit ₹5 lakh with the high court registry.
In Aggarwal’s case, she had approached HC on May 16 this year, seeking compensation for damages caused by the adjoining plot holder and obtained a stay order. Subsequently, the neighbour filed for vacation of stay. On May 31, the court issued notice to Aggarwal on neighbour’s plea on the condition that it would be subject to the party depositing ₹10 lakh with the HC registry.
Notified in 2019, stilt plus four floor policy is being opposed across Haryana. Since the notification, over 1,700 approvals for S+4 buildings have been given. Of these, 550 have collected occupation certificates, which mean that their building is ready for use. As per a report released in February, construction of nearly 1,100 high-rise buildings is underway in the city.
The government was forced to put it in abeyance in February amid pressure from residents. It subsequently set up an expert panel to examine the issue and conducted hearings with RWAs etc. The panel was asked to examine comprehensively the complaints/concerns raised by various residents/ RWAs with regard to construction and suspension of stilt+four floors in residential plots and further examine the pros and cons of such approvals granted in the past and its implications. It has been mandated to recommend the most viable and practical future course of action to be adopted.
Residents also say, there was no proper mechanism in the policy to deal with cases of compensation, in case a house is damaged due to construction activity in adjoining plot.
“Since policy is in abeyance, it cannot be challenged. Compensation cases are individual cases. But these two orders, pave way for other residents also,” added senior advocate, Baltej Singh Sidhu, who is appearing in one of the cases.
Residents say the National Building Code has been diluted and without proper scientific studies on impact, the policy was brought in. Not only in Panchkula, in other places such as Gurugram and Faridabad also, residents are rallying together to oppose the policy.
“Panchkula falls in seismic zone-4. Such unscientific approach would be a danger for future as well,” added Sidhu. Former chief of Army Staff General (retd) VP Malik, who has been spearheading the campaign against the policy, went on to even allege that “the government had been sympathetic towards builders” in the case of this policy.