Buy a flat in Mumbai: Check approvals, plans online soon
May 06, 2014
Source : The Times of India


MUMBAI: Mumbaikars will soon be able to make an informed decision before purchasing a house in the city.

Citizens will be able to view civic approved property building plans and certificates issued for a project. “If plans for a building have been approved up to the 8th floor and the builder is selling flats on the 12th floor, a citizen can decide whether to wait for approval or go ahead with the deal. By the month-end, we will upload building plans approved since June 2013 on the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) website,” said Shailesh Gandhi, head of the technical advisory committee to make the civic body citizen-friendly.

The committee was set up last May to help the BMC implement the Right To Information (RTI) Act. “The best way to do this is to put as much information as possible in the public domain, so life becomes easy for citizens and officials,” Gandhi said.

The proposal to accept building plans in soft form, give approvals online, including corrections to be done electronically, was conceived in 2009, and a pilot project was launched in the eastern suburbs. But the project was “sabotaged”.

Gandhi said last year seven lakh RTI pleas were filed across the state and 1.2 lakh were addressed to the BMC alone. “We analysed the pleas to understand the main points, and 30% were related to the building proposal department,” he said.

Merely providing information about the suburb and road on which the project is will help citizens find requisite documents.

Utsal Karani, secretary, Janhit Manch, which used RTI to expose violations and irregularities in several buildings, said it would be a big relief.

But Karani pointed out that most irregularities were in 2006-10. “Concessions were granted under the municipal commissioner’s discretionary powers. Plans approved during this period must be put in the public domain. Development control rules were changed in 2011, and there have been few violations,” he said.

Karani said information sought from the building proposal department is provided on a DVD. “It means all building plans for 20 years have been scanned, so why not put up everything on the website?”

Gandhi said he was trying to ensure that past plans are also uploaded. “We will put all complaints about unauthorized constructions online so people can track them. We will provide an email id, which I will monitor, for people to complain about shortcomings,” he said.

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