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Real Estate Developers Call For Modifications In Building By-Laws  |  September 30, 2019

Saumya Mishra

·        Govt launched Aponar Apon Ghar scheme


·        But builders have called for modifications in the building by-laws to avail benefits


·        Building by-laws are a set of norms by authorities for construction


·        Builders complain of a tedious process of obtaining approvals


·        Authorities say discrepancies arise since a software analyses the plan


While the state government recently launched the housing loan subsidy scheme, real estate developers of the state have called for modifications in the building by-laws for them to avail the benefits of the scheme.


The government launched ‘Aponar Apon Ghar’ which is a one-time subsidy scheme for Assam's permanent residents who have availed of housing loans of up to Rs 40 lakhs on or after April 1, 2019. 


Under the scheme, the beneficiaries will be able to avail the benefits on the purchase or construction of their first house. As per the scheme, the loan amount of Rs 5 to Rs 10 lakhs will get Rs 1 lakh as interest subsidy. Further, on a loan amount of Rs 10- 20 lakhs, Rs 1.50 lakhs will be provided as subsidy.    


On the other hand, a loan amount of Rs 20-30 lakhs will get Rs 2 lakhs as subsidy while Rs 30-40 lakhs will be provided a subsidy of Rs 2.50 lakhs.


However, builders and real-estate developers feel that the subsidy scheme will be of little help to them unless the building by-laws are modified first.


Building by-laws are a set of norms set by the authorities for construction of buildings which mention its various requirements. The regulatory authorities grant permission for building plan only when the by-laws are adhered to.


As per the current by-laws, there is a time limit set for issuing building permit. The by-laws mention: “Application for Planning Permit shall be disposed of within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of the application.


Application for Building Permit shall be disposed of within a period of 45 days from the date of receipt of Planning Permit.”


However, the builders complained of a tedious process of obtaining approvals from authorities.


“Assam is the only state in India which is operating with an outdated multiple window building by-laws where applicants have to run from table to table and from office to office for months, sometimes years on end, for approval,” said PK Sharma, President, AREIDA (Assam Real Estate and Infrastructure Developers’ Association). 


He further added that the central government had formulated the Model Building By-Laws 2016 in a bid to promote ease-of-doing business, promote the real estate and the housing sector and to eliminate corruption. It mandates single window, time bound approvals and accountability of officials. Further, all states were to amend their building by laws accordingly. However, the by-laws remained unchanged in Assam.


“The main issue in Assam is that the building by-laws are not yet corrected and there are 28 errors. This is why most of the builders are not taking up new projects and the ones which are ongoing are the earlier projects,” said Debajit Borah, a Guwahati-based builder.


He added that many projects including those under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) are held up due to the problems with the by-laws. Borah mentioned that they have been asking the government to rectify it for a long time but to no avail.


“The government has come up with a good scheme with Aponar Apon Ghar but it should be in line with the building by-laws,” said another real-estate developer. 


Further, architect Ranel Das told G Plus that getting a building permission is a tedious process.


“Even with the online system in place, the building permission can take anywhere between six months to even a year,” said Das.


On the other hand, Deepak Bezbaruah, Town Planner at Guwahati Municipality Corporation (GMC) said that currently the software scrutinises the plan and checks for adherence with by-laws.


“Since there is no human interface and the machine scrutinises it, many discrepancies are found. The machine catches discrepancies which are as small as 1 millimetre and thus the software doesn’t send it to the higher level for permission until it’s rectified,” Bezbaruah informed G Plus.


He added that there have been instances where the buildings have been passed in a single go while others have been pending for years.


“Since the system is new, I think it will take some time for the architects to get used to it. Nowadays, the objections are reducing as the architects now know the protocol,” he said.


Additionally, a source told G Plus that the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has written to the state government for modification of by-laws.


Further, builders also mentioned that the economic slowdown has had an adverse impact on the real estate sector. Builders said that over the past months, the progress of development has been very slow.


“The real estate business has halted now due to the economic slowdown. There is 60-70% less work now as compared to the previous years. The earlier boom in the real estate sector no longer exists,” said Debajit Borah.