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Streamlining building approvals

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A simple and efficient building approval process is essential. Independent regulatory bodies pitching in would lower the burden on the authorities.

Everybody hopes that there would be a reform in the building approval mechanism, given the extended timeframe and overstretched process. It is time that a reformation is brought out say professionals.

The building regulation requirements and approvals required at different stages by different authorities are relatively slow and expensive in India compared to several other countries.

In the U.K. and Australia, approvals are under the purview of private accrediting bodies where RICS too plays a role. The RICS School of Built Environment started recently offers professional degree courses in real estate, construction and infrastructure. These are two- and three-year MBA and BBA programmes, respectively, and there are several ways that courses address the skills-gap within the building industry, says Sachin Sandhir, Managing Director, RICS South Asia, who also answers specific questions on the importance of these building approvals in an interview with The Hindu-HABITAT .

Excerpts…

What is ‘building approval’ and what is the role of BBMP?

A building approval is a sanction that one gets from the city development authority to create a new structure.

The person applying could be a builder/ developer or an individual who may want to build a project or a house property.

He has to submit along with the application a detailed plan of the proposed building and its layout duly approved by a certified practising architect and surveyor. In case of a project the builder has to take a number of other approvals from various other agencies.

The authority then oversees the entire plan, analyses the environmental impact and other related impact on the infrastructure and resources and awards building permit to the person or the builder.

BBMP, the body awarding building permits, is the authority that oversees the developments.

What is the kind of building approval mechanism in vogue?

After the authority sanctions the project/property, the applicant can start the construction. Once it is complete, the applicant has to file another application to get a completion certificate. Once the authority issues it, the applicant has to take an occupation certificate. The authority then allows power connection, water supply and other basic amenities to the premises.

What are the different kinds of approvals required?

For a project or a group housing project, one requires around 40 different approvals from various Central and State Government agencies.

These can be categorised under different heads. For example, separate approvals are needed for land use and land conversion, and environmental clearance. These two categories require the maximum time during the approval process. Other clearances include approvals from the Aviation Authority, Archaeological Survey of India, Central Ground Water Authority, Plan Approval Authority, Pollution Control Board, police authorities etc.

Each agency assesses the project’s impact and approves the project.

What is the kind of approval process necessary for a country like India?

Industry as a whole has been asking for a single window clearance from the government. To meet the huge housing requirement, India should have a single window clearance mechanism in place. Reducing bottlenecks and quicker approvals will help reduce the delays within the real estate sector. This will also reduce the cost on developers, which in turn would help them reduce the overall cost and sell property at lower rates.

How slow and how costly is the approval process?

Like I mentioned earlier, approvals in our country take more than the required time. This is the reason behind initial delays for a project. As per industry estimates, the approval process alone can cost 30-40 per cent of the total sale value of the property. This takes a significant portion of a developer’s investment. According to a World Bank study, India has one of the most cumbersome and lengthy processes of seeking construction permits. As per the study, in terms of construction permits India ranks 182 in a list of 185 countries.

To what extent can industry bodies, RICS for example, intervene and make things better for the industry?

RICS as a leading standards setting body has been trying to change the face of the industry through education, advocacy on bringing regulation and best practices, and reducing the skills gap that the industry is facing.

We are in consultation with the government and various industry bodies to streamline the process of approvals across the country.

In addition to this, RICS has been working towards bringing professionalism in the fragmented real estate market by imparting education and training to existing professionals within the built environment.

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