The Delhi Urban Arts Commission has written to the Union Urban Development Ministry to ease the building by-laws for plotted residential projects to streamline and simplify the procedures for obtaining clearances from local authorities.

The DUAC has suggested that a project can be “deemed sanctioned” if it is designed within the laid down guidelines of the by-laws and approved by two architects and an engineer. As on date, owners and architects have to seek the permission of the municipal corporations before carrying out any construction work, a process which has over time come to be recognised as both time-consuming as well as intricate.

“A committee that was set up to reframe the building by-laws has suggested that to allow architects more freedom and to accommodate the new regulations like GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment), the by-laws should be made more simpler. The common man should be able to refer to a booklet for understanding the building by-laws, which should be easy to comprehend with few ambiguities,” said DUAC chairperson Raj Rewal.

The process of seeking sanction from two architects and an engineer will initially be limited to smaller projects, but can also be extended to medium-sized projects like schools and educational institutions up to four storeys.

The suggestions of the Committee that was headed by Sonali Bhagwati, Member of the Commission, have been set before the Union UD Ministry and the Delhi Development Authority for their comments. Simplification of the by-laws will alleviate the “harassment faced by the owners and architects” said Ms. Bhagwati, adding that the purpose of reframing the laws is to make them more “design centric”.

“This exercise has been done in conjunction with Satish Khanna who is co-chairperson of the committee. Some of the salient features of the exercise of simplification of the by-laws are to reorganise the existing by-laws by consolidating information in a rational manner. Wherever applicable, appropriate references to other statutory documents are cited, various forms for application for sanctions, completion etc. have been rationalised keeping in view present day practices. Information on the bulk characteristics of a property can be made available before commencing the design process in order to have the correct parameters. It has been suggested that plans can be sanctioned by a group of 2 architects and an engineer. This would be more design centric as an architect would tend to encourage good design provided it is within the tenets of the by-laws. An engineer would only follow the rule book with a restricted vision which often disallows innovative design elements. This would also cut the red tape,” Ms. Bhagwati said.

It is also suggested that unless an order is notified and uploaded on the official website, it cannot be made into a law. This would make the process transparent as currently many times designs get rejected or objections are raised on the basis of some internal orders that are not known and hence not followed. The exercise, she said, aims to alleviate the “harassment faced by the owners and the architects”. “Batting for easier access to by-laws and their interpretation, Ms. Bhagwati said: “Ideally, there should be a software developed where the owners just type in their plot number and get the by-laws pertaining to their area. This should be the last mile effort.”

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