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When online building permits work….

Tamil Nadu could benefit from looking at the record of Telangana in the matter of ease of doing business. The regular television advertisements on this subject by the Telangana government promote a favourable image further fortified by experiences recounted by business leaders of Tamil Nadu attracted to invest in Telangana. TN should go for a time bound digital clearance of project applications eliminating interface with ministers and government officials. 

Such an approach can extend to the numerous clearances needed by the citizens for obtaining building permits, registrations, etc. There are systems in place; sadly ignorance of these by citizens and poor implementation result in corruption. I cite my own pleasant experience:

While reconstructing my house during 2012-13, my contractor suggested setting apart Rs. 5 lakh as speed money for getting various clearances. When I protested, he mentioned that it was the norm and he will leave it to me to obtain these directly. 

I agreed and visited the CMDA. The chief town planner apprised me of a provision to apply for the permit online with guarantees by my architect and myself  not to deviate from the permitted plan. He assured me that I would be advised within 20 working days of my application. I complied with his advice. On the 20th working day I received a call from CMDA advising me that my building permit needs a few small changes in the measurements for the balcony which, after done, the permit would be given. 

I resubmitted the application with the suggested changes and got the building permit approved on payment of the requisite fees in a couple of days! Likewise, on completion of the building, I requested CMDA to inspect; the official took measurements of the completed building and found it conforming to the permit. I received the completion certificate in the next couple of days!

Similar was my experience in getting power and water connections. No speed money at all!  

CMDA should publicise this provision and ensure strict compliance.  The recent announcement by the government to make applications for building permits to be submitted online with promise of decision in 30 days is welcome.

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