M Venkaiah Naidu
M Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of building collapse incidents, Urban Development minister M Venkaiah Naidu today favoured incorporating in law provisions whichhold the concerned officials responsible when such mishaps happen due to their negligence.

The minister termed as “a sad commentary on our urban planning” the incidents of building collapse in Delhi and Chennai.

“I strongly feel that how we can incorporate in law that people like the building inspector, the local town planner, the area incharge, should be made responsible and accountable if something happens in their tenure,” Naidu said at a conclave here where ministers from various states were present.

He also emphasised that no official should be held responsible if any such incident happens after his tenure ends, but stressed that accountability should be fixed.

“You can’t hold the official responsible for something which has happened earlier. Let us make a beginning. Let us incorporate in  our municipal laws that there will be an accountability factor, this is very much required,” he said.

Talking about the media role in such incidents, the Union minister said “whenever there is a building collapse incident, media highlights it, then there is concern and some good, well meaning, dynamic officer comes in and orders demolitions.

After this there is hue and cry, again the focus of media, then the exercise is stopped.”

Naidu’s comments come in the backdrop of recent incidents of building collapse in Chennai, where 53 people have died and in Delhi, in which ten people lost their lives.

Naidu said transparency should be encouraged and suggested that detailed signboards should be put up at project sites to inform the people.

“We must provide on-line opportunity to the people to make complaints. And well meaning people should be rewarded, it may not be in the form of cash but as appreciation will also go a long way,” the Urban Development Minister said.

He also stressed that illegal construction should be checked right in the beginning.

Naidu said that Urban governance and Housing for all were the two challenges before the country which can beconverted into opportunities and stressed that lives of people needs to be made better in urban areas.

He said Mahatama Gandhi had given the ‘back to villages’ call but “unfortunately the country’s planners had shown their back to villages and moved towards urban areas”.

Naidu, who is also Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation minister, said 33 per cent of the country’s citizens were already residing in urban areas and “18 per cent of urban population lives in slums, in some major cities it is close to 31 percent”.

Almost 30 per cent of urban households do not have tapped water and dependence on tube or borewell has increased, which is not desirable, he added.

The minister said 22.5 per cent urban households do not have bathroom and only 44.5 percent urban households have closed drainage. 18.6 per cent of the urban households do not have toilet facility within premises.

“These are challenges before us,” he said.

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