No progress in making building approvals public
Nov 06, 2013
Source : The Times of India


MUMBAI: It was in 2009 that the then municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak introduced a system whereby all building plans would be submitted on a compact disc and permissions and concessions granted online. The approved plans then were to be displayed on the BMC’s website for citizens to know what had been sanctioned.

This was to not only create transparency but also ensure property buyers, who otherwise have no means to know whether their flat is legal, take an informed decision, said experts.

The pilot was introduced in the eastern suburbs as very few “difficult” plans were received here and few concessions were sought. The day the soft copy along with the hard copy was submitted to the assistant engineer, it was taken as the date of submission. All remarks were to be made online and no corrections could be made till they went to the next level. The official needed to send an email to his superior to make a correction. This system was to be followed right up to the commissioner’s level. The concession file was submitted only as a hard copy, said civic officials. All approvals, including concessions, were to be put up on the BMC website. Every time a plan was revised, the version was to be put on it.

Not a single building plan was uploaded, though. The building proposal department ensured the system never got implemented in the eastern suburbs, alleged experts.

It was only towards the end of his tenure last year that municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar once again tried to revive the online system. Civic officials said all files had been scanned and the department was once again working on the system. But in the absence of political will and administrative push, despite obtaining loans for flats, many may continue to live in fear of demolition, said experts.

Utsal Karani, secretary, Janhit Manch, said these days when the organization sends queries about various buildings, the building proposal department provides the information on a CD. “So where is the difficulty in putting up the same information on its website?”

Practising Engineers, Architects and Town Planners’ Association has for long been asking the BMC to upload all approved plans, said architect Sunil Deole. A prospective flat buyer can always ask the builder for approved plans and completion certificate before buying a flat.

Often builders refuse to show the approved plans. In the absence of the CTS number, a prospective buyer cannot seek information from the BMC.

Karani said under the Development Control Regulations it is mandatory for a builder to display the CTS and file numbers at the site but this is not done. In 2011 a circular was issued, too, to ensure this but it is not followed. In Thane, which adjoins Mumbai, the system is followed by all builders. “Without CTS number, one cannot even seek information under RTI. Why should the BMC hesitate to implement the law?” he asked.

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