Approval of building plans, issue of occupancy certificate to go online

BBMP sets strict deadlines under Building Plan Approval and Management System

Builders and citizens who have got a house built in Bengaluru will attest to the ordeal involved in getting sanctions and the time spent wading through the red tape. However, this will no longer be the case.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is taking the process online with the introduction of the Building Plan Approval and Management System (BPAMS) with set deadlines for approvals: 15 days for smaller projects at the zonal level and 30 days for large projects at the city level.

In other words, from the time the applicant uploads the relevant documents online, the clock starts ticking and the civic body is bound to give the approvals within the stipulated deadlines.

Long-pending demand

Red tape and inordinate delays in approvals for plans are long-standing complaints of the real estate industry. “The average time taken for us to get a plan approved for a mid-size apartment is around nine months, which is a huge setback as it locks up finances,” Suresh Hari, vice-president, CREDAI-Bengaluru, said. He added that they have been demanding an online platform for plan approvals for a long time now.

The new system will be introduced by the first week of November. Training for personnel and distribution of role-based digital signature cards are under way.

Henceforth, all applications for plan sanctions, Commencement Certificates (CC) and Occupancy Certificates (OC) need to be made online. The prescribed fee will also be paid online through the website.

“The countdown to the deadline begins once the applicant, whether engineer or builder, uploads all relevant documents. Each stage of file clearance has been a awarded a stipulated time in the software. Once the deadline for that stage passes, the official will be locked out of the file and the file moved to the next level,” BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said.

Planned inspections

At present civic officials do not inform applicants of spot inspections. In the new BPAMS, the engineering staff have to inform the builder and engineer of spot inspection via SMS and upload the inspection report within 48 hours, which can be accessed by the applicant online. Buildings coming up in BDA, BMICPA approved layouts, projects for which development plans are approved by BDA are exempt from spot inspections. The approved plans, CC and OC will be mailed to the applicant engineers and builders, after they pay the fee online. Hard copies and manual issual of the same has been banned.

A move to curtail corruption?

Plan sanctions and issue of CC and OC are the major areas of corruption in the civic administration, say activists and those working in the real estate sector.

K Rehman, an architect, said that in most cases these services are accompanied with a ‘fee’ usually negotiated like a package for a building and any attempts to secure an approval without paying up leads to inordinate delays.

But will the new online system reduce this corruption? While many remain sceptical, there is hope that the system will bring in more transparency.

R. Ramesh, a property consultant, said that while the online system will shrink the timelines and bring in accountability, it is unlikely to have any effect on stamping out corruption. “The city has a clique of agents who organise all approvals for a fee and the new online system will do little to break them,” he said.

However, BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad, while acknowledging the allegations of corruption in approvals, said that the new system holds everyone accountable. “Presently, engineers try to delay approval with queries, many times not substantiated. But now they have to upload all reports and objections if any within the stipulated time, which all senior officers and the applicant can access. This will throw them open to being contested, bringing in accountability,” he argued.

‘Trust and Verify’ model

The city’s civic body intends to move out of plan sanctioning for all 30x40 and 40x60 plots and buildings, and instead adopt a ‘trust and verify’ model along the lines of the Self Assessment Scheme followed in property taxes. This system allows property owners to assess their properties themselves.

“The union urban development department has issued an advisory to adopt the ‘trust and verify’ model for plan approvals. We are working towards being the first city to adopt it,” the BBMP Commissioner said.

Under the trust and verify model, registered architects and engineers can approve the plans themselves in accordance with the building byelaws. Civic officials will make verifications during spot inspections to check for any violations.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 5:10:34 AM |

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