Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't feel forced to take TDR in lieu of property

Don't feel forced to take TDR in lieu of property

Development cannot be used as an excuse to choke people; assert your rights

With the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike announcing plans to widen 207 roads, it has also been forced, for lack of funds, to offer Transferable Development Rights (TDRs) to those who stand to lose their property. Keshav Krishnamurty speaks to civil lawyer Sunil Dutt Yadav on the TDR scheme.

Could you please explain to us what the TDR means?
Transferable Development Rights (TDR) is an instrument through which the cash-starved BBMP can facilitate the loser of a property to construct either an additional floor within the remaining space, or develop property elsewhere in the city.
Typically, the TDR given to the owner of a particular property marked for acquisition by the BBMP would entitle him to develop a slightly larger part that the actual property lost. The owner gets the rights to construct a built-up area, say, 1.5 times the property that will be acquired. A TDR certificate can be traded in the market for money; this is frequently done in Mumbai. However, in Bangalore, there are no purchases of TDR certificates. So these are essentially worthless.

Can the BBMP force property owners to accept TDRs?
No. Property owners should not give in to blackmailing or coercion. Should the owner of a piece of property be forced, harassed, blackmailed or coerced to accept a TDR, he has every right to decline the certificate.

So what legal recourse do property owners have, in case they are coerced?
The property owner can give the BBMP a legal notice, saying he rejects the TDR certificate. That notice has to be issued if the owner has to go to a civil court. The owner could point out any irregularities in the land acquisition in the proposed project. Deviation from the building plan, while illegal, is not acceptable as a ground for denying property owners the compensation.

What happens if the matter goes to court?
The high court has directed the BBMP to strictly follow the guidelines of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1961. Under this act, the Bangalore Development Authority should file a scheme to implement the Comprehensive Development Plan or any other project. In some instances, the widening of Rajkumar Road, for instance, no scheme was framed. What that means is that residents do not have a scheme under which they could file suggestions or raise objections. Contempt of court notices have been issued, but there was no reaction from the BBMP.

Is it possible to balance the need for development with the protection of individual property rights?
Development must not be used as an excuse to choke people. Properties marked for road widening cannot find buyers or tenants, and owners find it hard to repay loans, so they are forced to reach a settlement. Many road widening projects have no clear sources of funding, so how can they be carried out? Often, properties are marked for acquisition, but work on the road gets inordinately delayed. The BBMP should present a proper time frame and budget to residents.

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