MUMBAI: As part of its 'ease of doing business' policy, the BMC early this month made it mandatory for the construction industry to submit building proposals online.
But glitches due to an outdated software supplied to the BMC by a private contractor have left builders and architects fuming. They complain the system does not work because the software is not user-friendly and not been updated to support changes made in the development control rules over the past two years. Even plans, which are prima facie wrong, are shown as approvable by the software, said architects.
Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta admitted the online system supports barely 15% of a building proposal. "More work needs to be done. Our aim now is to bring a certain level of predictability in building permissions," he told TOI on Wednesday. Mehta said proposals are, however, being approved manually.
The city's leading architects' association, PEATA, will meet Mehta to rectify the system. They alleged that unscrupulous ward level staff is using this as an excuse to delay permissions and knock out money from builders.
On May 16, the chief engineer of the civic development plan department issued an ultimatum to zonal offices to ensure all proposals are accepted only through a single window application online system. The directive said that from May 18, only those proposals processed through this system should be accepted. But architects said the automation envisaged by the BMC is not happening; on the contrary, proposals are getting delayed because the software is cumbersome. "None of the sub-engineers of the building proposal department are comfortable with it," they said.
Last April, TOI reported about the BMC's attempt to streamline its notorious building proposal department from mid-May by curtailing permissions a developer needs to obtain building approvals and commencement certificate.
A 21-page circular issued by the then civic chief Sitaram Kunte directed the development plan department to begin "auto scrutiny" and online single window application of building proposals.
"The main focus is to simplify the construction permit process and reduce the time by eliminating avoidable procedures. It envisages a reduction in procedures involved in interdepartmental clearances and stages by about 50% and reduction of time byabout 60%. It also envisages an IT-enabled system for a single window clearance as a long-term solution," said the circular.
The World Bank's 2014 report on 'Dealing with Construction Permits' ranks India 184th out of 189 countries. The report states it takes 27 steps and 162 days to obtain a construction permit in Greater Mumbai. It adds that the cost of construction permit in the city is 46.05% of the total cost of construction.