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Last week in a press conference, BJP state president had alleged that the group of property developer firms, G Square, has been able to get CMDA plot approval within eight days. He also said it takes 200 days for others to get their plot approval typically. Here’s a reality check from the ground on the approval process.

Outside city limits, approval to construct houses from lands that are not classified agricultural has to come from the Department of Town and Country Planning (DTCP). The approval is processed by the Local Planning Authority. In the past, just the patta would be enough to get permission from panchayats for new buildings. Many new constructions were permitted that brought in more revenue to villages. If construction wasn’t completed within two years after permission, then fresh permission will have to be obtained. Now, without proper approvals from the DTCP or CMDA, no housing plots can be bought and sold, as per court order.

Outside Chennai, the Local Planning Authority (LPA) will approve the development of land into housing plots of up to 5 acres within Corporation limits and 10 acres in villages

Fees for approval are collected based on the market rate of the land and the guideline value. The Local Planning Authority lays down several norms. For instance, housing plots should be bound by 40 feet roads. Only if all the norms are adhered and documents submitted can the land be developed into housing plots.

Prior to developing any property for real estate, the developer should get approval for the project. Unless this approval is obtained, all other approvals will stand unrecognized.

Outside Chennai, the Local Planning Authority (LPA) will approve the development of land into housing plots of up to 5 acres within Corporation limits and 10 acres in villages. Any housing plot layout will need to set aside land for roads, parking area, playground and so on. If any industry or business is to come up in the layout, then the approval has to come from the RDO (District Revenue Officer), not just the LPA. Layouts more than 10 acres in villages and 5 acres in Corporation limits outside Chennai should go directly to the CMDA for approval.

In case of CMDA approval, online facility has been there for many years. Recently, the government had said the approval should be granted within 90 days.

In the online process, an architect in Coimbatore who didn’t wish to be identified explains, the application involves several colour coded slots for parking, road, playground and so on. But when trying to upload the relevant document, a glitch in the online system often saves the document in the wrong colour coded folder. There is no option to review and make corrections in the application, he adds.

Since 2016, all DTCP approvals outside of Chennai has to be obtained online. This is said to avoid all middlemen. The time to process one application takes one hour to three hours. But the intranet is available only in the LPA or panchayat offices. Through a surveyor who is a government employee, this needs to be done, but that may not be possible for a three-hour stretch. The online process ensures that the submitted documents are indeed in the system and all the norms are adhered to. But there is little other benefit, he adds.

A leading builder in Coimbatore says that the online system has not minimized the role of middlemen given the process described. Here’s where the power of money and political power can hasten the process and facilitate it

A leading builder in Coimbatore endorses the architect’s view that the online system gives confirmation that the application has indeed been made and is in the system. The documents will not get tampered with or lost. But the process is complicated. Files jumping and server slowing down are problems, he says, adding a manual process is often straightforward and easier.

The builder adds that the role of middlemen has not minimized given the process described. Here’s where the power of money and political power can hasten the process and facilitate it, he adds.

An LPA official says that in the manual system, the human element often helped to understand individual project needs and urgencies. He promised that technical glitches are being looked into and training of surveyors is being done. It is up to the applicant to crosscheck and meet the surveyor and higher official to ensure that the plot approval will be obtained in three months. This is not automatic, he adds.


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