13.PLAN APPROVALS



 STREAMLINING OF BUILDING PLAN APPROVALS 

13.1 Streamlining the building approval/sanction procedure (Ease of Doing Business)

Typically for any urban infrastructure development project, a number of clearances are required. As per  World Bank‘s Report Doing Business, 2014 India is ranked 183, out of 189 countries in terms of dealing with construction permits and on an average there are 37 procedures involved and 162 days are spent before obtaining permission for undertaking construction. It clearly signifies that the procedure for obtaining clearances is time consuming and projects often get stalled due to delay in obtaining clearances from various agencies.  

In order to attract investments into the country, efforts are being made to improve ‘Ease of Doing Business’. In this direction, the limit of Built-up Area (BUA) for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been reduced from 50,000 sqm to 20,000 sqm. The local bodies have been directed to get the entire building approval process made online so that the building plan applications are submitted online alongwith building fees and other charges, and after due scrutiny, the approvals are also to be conveyed online.  

Further, external bodies like Urban Art Commission (UAC), National Monuments Authority (NMA), Airports Authority of India (AAI), Metro Rail Corporation (MRC), Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC), etc. grant No Objection Certificate (NOC)/ approvals on the proposed building plans to the local bodies. All such external bodies are mandated to prepare online NOC systems compatible to and integrated with that of the local bodies and the desired information is to be sent to the concerned external bodies and their comments/ NOC/ approval are to be received online so that there is no need for building proponents to pursue matter with local bodies or external agencies. The specific requirements of the external bodies are to be added in the Common Application Form (CAF) of the local body so that building proponent has to file all information at a single customized online application. The objective is to make the whole process simplified and streamlined to ensure ease in getting the approvals for building permit within stipulated time.  

Further, a procedure has been laid down in clause 2.14.1 d of the MBBL for sanction of building plans of small residential plots measuring up to 105 sqm based on standard or other designs. The process is to facilitate building proponents of such small sized plots to either adopt standard plans or get their building plans prepared by a competent professional, and submit to the concerned local bodies along with fees, other charges, drawings and documents before commencement of the construction where the submission itself shall be deemed sanction. Hence, such persons may not have to wait for processes of approval from the local bodies to commence construction.  

13.2 Clearances at Master Plan level

Individual construction proposals should not generally require separate clearances from various authorities each time. Such clearances should be integrated into the DCR of the Master/Development Plan of the concerned city. The areas unaffected by any of the restrictions should be clearly marked out and mapped, preferably on a GIS platform. Area zones of differential control regulations (within the city) by any of these agencies may also be mapped accordingly. This will result in a composite map of the city with various control regulations as per the various agencies clearly marked on the map. Thus, the sites which are located outside these restricted/regulated areas would not require availing clearance from the respective authorities, thereby reducing the clearance process significantly.

Following are the clearances which should be integrated into the city Master Plan-  

Table 13.1 Clearances from various agencies proposed to be integrated in Master Plans

Sl No Name of Agency Type of Clearance Area of Influence 
1 National Monuments Authority through Competent Authority  ancient momment approval As prescribed in the AMASAR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 for protection of  monuments 
2 Ministry of Environment  Environment Clearance (EC) As prescribed in the statutory provisions for EIA and clearance based on the size of the project in accordance with Environment protection Act,1986 
3 Central Ground Water Authority  Borewell Registration Certificat As per  Guidelines/criteria for evaluation of proposals/ requests for ground water abstraction, 2012 
5 Ministry of Civil Aviation AAI Height NoC Critical and non-critical area as identified by AAI 
6 Ministry of Defense Defense Clearance
Areas in and around Defense Establishments as identified by MoD
7 Coastal Zone Management Authority  NOC (if near sea/coastal areas) Areas under the CRZ regulations
8 NHAI/PWD   Buffer zones as prescribed by NHAI along National Highways
9 Ministry of Railways Area clearance Buffer zones as prescribed by Railways along the Rail tracks/depots/yards etc. 

Efforts are on at the Government of India level to coordinate with all the central ministries and their organizations so that they streamline their own internal processes to issue no objection etc. where ever required by law. The efforts are mainly focused on delegating the powers at appropriate levels, establishing an online application process for time bound delivery, creating public awareness about their requirements, reviewing the restrictions and reducing them, sharing the data and norms with local authorities to be incorporated in DCR etc

Recognizing the concern for streamlining the procedures for clearances to be obtained from various departments in least possible number of procedures and number of days, the following model is given which suggests that the entire process of Pre and Post-Construction approvals should be completed within one month:  

Table 13.2 Timelines of clearances from various agencies 

S.l No Type of approval  Approving Authority  Stage of project  Normal Duration (Days)  Reduced Duration (Days)  Activity Sequence 
A Intimation of Disapproval (IoD)  Development Authority/ Municipality Pre  construction  30 5 Start action
B Site & Building Layout approval Development Authority/ Municipality Pre  construction  30-60 5 Following A
C NOC (if near sea/coastal areas)  Coastal Zone Management Authority Pre  construction  30-60 10 Following B
D Road access NHAI/PWD  Pre  construction  30 10 Following B
E Ancient Monument approval Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Pre  construction  30 10 Following B
F Environment Clearance  Ministry of Environment  Pre  construction  180 Only for large project Following B
G Borewell Registration Certificate  Central Ground Water Authority  Pre  construction  15 5 Following B
H Fire Fighting Scheme Approval  Fire Department  Pre  construction  30 15 Following B
I AAI Height NoC Civil Aviation Department  Pre  construction  30-60 10 Following B
J Defence Clearance  Ministry of Defence  Pre  construction  180 10 Following B
K Building Permit Issue  (All NOCs)  Development Authority/ Municipality Pre  construction    1 Max of after C-J
  Sub total       26 (Max)  
L lectric Substation NoC  (substation /transformers in the building)  Electricity Distribution Authority  During construction  15 5 After K
M Damp Proof Certificate  (On Site)  Development Authority During construction  7 3 After K
N Pollution Clearance  State Pollution control Board  During construction  30-60 5 After L
Ø Construction Complete Construction Time depends on the project Scale and Size
O Building completion Certificate  Development Authority/ Municipality Post construction 30-60 5 After Ø
P Service Plan Clearance and Service Connections Service Departments/ Parastatals   Post construction 30 10 After O
Q Occupancy Certificate  Development Authority/ Municipality Post construction 15 2 After P
  Sub total       17 (Max)  

Explanatory Notes:

1. The above Table and Chart indicates that the processes after the applicant applies for building approval with clear land title and possession of land. Hence, clearances related to CLU and Land Title has not been considered.

2.  The table illustrates the duration of clearances obtained in Normal course and suggests the reduced duration of 26 days (PreConstruction) if the Approving Authority adopts online sanctions.

3. Clearances indicated at S Nos. C-J are concurrent with applications at the pre-construction stages, wherein their process of approval can be taken up simultaneously.

4. Clearances indicated at S Nos. L-N are concurrent with applications during-construction stage, wherein their process of approval can be taken up simultaneously.

5. S No. P has to be linked with S No. O, once applicant receives the Completion Certificate, service plan clearances and connections would be deemed to be sanctioned

13.3 Clearances at the Local Authorities 

The Urban Local Bodies and Urban Development Authorities shall ensure clearances in minimum possible time. Clearances indicated at Sl. No. A,B,H,K,L,M,N,O,P, and Q have to be obtained at the local level and all efforts have to be made to sanction the building plan using online application procedures

13.4 Options for reducing the timelines for approvals: 

The above suggested model is only indicative, however, there is scope for streamlining the procedures for clearances to be obtained from various departments in the least possible number of procedures and number of days. The model should serve as a guide to Urban Local Bodies and Development Authorities for adoption. Since the number of procedures and duration varies from state to state, as per the local conditions, the model would require modifications to suit a specific city. Some of the options which can reduce the time taken for various procedures are

(a) Online sanctions: Some of the ULBs/Development Authorities like Pune Municipal Corporation and West Bengal Housing and Industrial Development Corporation have introduced online sanction for issuing building plan and completion certificate. This process reduces the time taken to a large extent.  The example of Pune and West Bengal may be considered in other States

The process involves use of software tools for scrutiny of building plans. All the documents are required to be submitted electronically using a portal. In case the building plans do not confirm to the DCR the deviations are listed out in form of a report and intimated to the applicant/engaged Competent Professional for building plan design, vide an online ID in his account. 

(b) Empowering Professionals:  Empowering Competent Professionals (as per Appendix ‘E’) for building plan design will facilitate to streamline the procedure for obtaining approvals. The Authority shall empanel such professionals based on their track record. The empowered professionals can, also on behalf of Developers/builders submit the documents required at the time of various clearances.

Signing authority of Architects and Town planners for different size and type of layout shall be followed as per section 2.10

Further to the Standard Building Layouts as specified in section 2.14.1 (d), any building proposed with a ceiling limit of 105 sq mt of built-up area on plots of any size, conforming to the standard approved layout by the Authority shall be treated as deemed approved for construction. No formal sanction would be required for the owner/proponent who can submit a simple one page form alongwith other documents to the local body and can immediately take up construction work.

Commencement of construction work on site shall be undertaken as per clause 2.15.1 of the bye-laws. The process of obtaining “Completion Certificate” can also be initiated by the owner by submitting “as-built drawings”. 

(c) Outsourcing procedures: Countries like USA, Australia and New Zealand have outsourced work pertaining to clearances and have appointed firms /companies to undertake the work on behalf of Authorities. This has been working very successfully and the procedure for obtaining clearances is free of any hassles and the same has become transparent and streamlined. The example of Passport office is a good case to study to build confidence in favor of outsourcing non discretionary activities in order to support limitations of capacity and manpower at the Authority. 

(d) Creating a Cell in ULB/Development Authorities: There is a need for creating a specialized cell in Authority which is manned by qualified personnel conversant with the procedures and the interpretation of development regulations. The Cell should be headed by a qualified Town Planner who should lead a team of Architects, Engineers, Environment Specialist and Legal Experts among others. The cell should have the dedicated provision for online submissions and conveying the on line approvals as well. This will require robust software and hardware system capable of handling large digital files. 

(e) Single Window System:  This is a requirement that is growing popularity among the   Authorities. All agencies involved in the process need to be integrated in a single electronic facility with proper coordination and monitoring of timelines. The Authority needs to constitute teams comprising of experts from various agencies to be formed under the overall supervision of a Town Planner designated to assist developers/ builders with complex projects and to constantly improve the sanction process by cutting down delays

(f) Integration of agencies outside the ULBs for online clearances: Various agencies like AAI, NMA, SUAC, Fire Services, Department of Industries, Ministry of Defense, Metro Rail etc grant NOC clearance to the building plans in certain specific cases. This may be streamlines in the spirit of Ease of Doing Business  by following 2 directions as given below 

i. Building permission for specific areas /sizes are to be examined by the external agencies. These areas should be plotted on GIS based colour-coded map which may be made available in the public domain on the agency’s website, with clearly identified co-ordinates so that building falling only in these areas need to approach the concerned agencies for obtaining clearances. These maps may also be made available on the website of the concerned Local Bodies.

ii. The external agencies also need to develop online clearance/NOC application systems which should suitably be integrated with the online building approval systems of the Local bodies

The two systems should be so compatible that the building plans submitted to the local bodies may after scrutinizing with colour-coded zoning maps shall be e-transmitted to the external agencies. The agency concerned should give clearance within a period of maximum of 10 days with no requirement of applicant to physically visit the offices of the agencies. The NOC may again be e-transmitted to the concerned local body on the building permission system so that the ULB shall use those for final approval.

13.5 Risk Based Classification of building proposals

There is a need to make provisions for fast-tracking building permission procedures for all non-automatic approvals. Therefore, in the spirit of ‘Ease of Doing Business’, the buildings have been classified further on the basis of risk parameters/ risk based classification to clear the building permits on fast track system. This kind of classification shall be used for fast tracking the sanction of building plans, which shall facilitate regulated and faster construction permits, and also aid in improving the rating of the country in World Bank’s assessment in ‘Ease of Doing Business’.  

Further, the ULB in consultation with all parastatal bodies involved, shall identify risk based classification of industrial, commercial and institutional buildings and prepare risk based matrix, in-line with those proposed in MBBL for residential and storage buildings/ warehouses/ godowns and accordingly prescribe the fast tracking approval system. This exercise shall be done within a period of 3 months from the date of publication of the Local Building Bye-laws.  

On the basis of above-mentioned risk matrix prepared by each of the agencies involved in approving building plans, State Government shall design and notify necessary legal instructions to implement risk based mechanism with a view to fast track building permissions based on their risk classification. These instruments may include, but are not limited to, delegation of powers, out-sourcing, empowering architects, selfcertifications, etc. These notifications shall be done within 3 months from the date of notification of risk matrix by each competent authority / agency as mentioned above

13.5.1 Residential Buildings

For approval of the residential plotted and group housing buildings, risk based classification shall be as per Table 13.3 -

Table 13.3 Risk Matrix for different Residential buildings 

Risks   Very Low  Low  Moderate  High 
Criteria Parameters        
Size of the Plot Square Meters  Below 105 m2  105 - 500 m2  Above 500 m2  All sizes ii 
Height of building Meters Below  15 m  Below  15 m  Below  15 m  15 m and above 
Use of the premis Various Categories Residential Plotted Residential Plotted Residential Plotted  Group Housing

Note:

i.  Considering no other issue like Monuments, Metro, DUAC, Airports etc. are involved. In case the property lies within the regulated zone of metro rail, airport etc. the online clearance from the local body concerned shall be taken

ii. Group Housing area is minimum 2000 sq mt (may vary between States)  

iii. The Urban Local Body/ Urban Development Authority shall empanel professionals as per “Appendix E-1”.

iv. The Urban Local Body/ Urban Development Authority shall work out and prescribe fees for submitting the building plans

v. The fees shall be derived by an automated built-in calculator in the online system of submission.  

Suggested Fast Tracking Tools:

For Very Low Risk Buildings:

The process prescribed in clause 2.14.1 d) shall be followed.

For Low Risk Buildings:

A Competent professional (qualification & competence as per Annexure-E) shall be empowered to issue the building permit, but only after submitting the plan along with requisite documents and fees to the concerned local body. If the owner/ professional desires to get the building plan sanctioned by the local body, building plans prepared by a qualified architect/ engineer will have to be submitted to the concerned local body along with the fees and other requisite documents and the local body shall grant the building permit within 10 days 

For Moderate risk Buildings:

Building plans will have to be prepared by a competent professional and the building plans will have to be submitted to the concerned local body along with the fees and other requisite documents. The local body shall grant the building permit within 20 days.

For High risk Buildings:

Clearance from Fire department and other necessary clearances from AAI, NMA and other agencies have to be obtained. Building plans will have to be prepared by a competent professional and the building plans will have to be submitted to the concerned local body along with the fees and other requisite documents. The local body shall grant the building permit within 20 days.

13.5.2 Storage/Warehouse Buildings

For approval of the buildings meant for use as storage buildings/ warehouses/ godowns, risk based classification shall be as per Table 13.4 -

Table 13.4 Risk Matrix for Storage/Warehouses

Risks  Very Low  Low  Moderate  High 
Covered Area on all floors/ Built-up area  upto 250m3 above 250m3 and upto 2000m3 upto 2000m3 above 2000m3
Height of building  Below 15 m Below 15 m Below 15 m Below 15 m
Abutting Road width  Min. 12 m Min. 12 m Min. 12 m Min. 12 m
Type of Material storage  Category A Category A Category B (Stacking height - Medium)  Category B (Stacking height -High) 

Note:

i. The level of Risk is classified according to the material stored in the warehouse/storehouse. Material shall be classified according to the Categories defined in Appendix “I”.

ii.  Building application of buildings listed under sections 3.6.8, Section 4.9 and Item 2 of Table 3.14 of the MBBL shall be dealt in accordance with this table for building plan approvals.

iii. The Urban Local Body/ Urban Development Authority shall empanel professionals as per “Appendix E-1”.

iv. The building application processing fees shall be derived by an automated built-in calculator in the online system.  

Suggested modes of Fast Tracking:

For Very Low Risk Buildings:

A competent professional (qualification & competence as per Annexure-E) shall be empowered to issue the building permit, but only after submitting the plan along with requisite documents and fees to the concerned local body. If the owner/ architect/ engineer desires to get the building plan sanctioned by the local body, he shall apply online to the local body and the local body shall grant the building permit within 10 days.

For Low Risk Buildings:

Building plans will have to be prepared by a competent professional and the building plans will have to be submitted to the concerned local body along with the fees and other requisite documents. The local body shall grant the building permit within 20 days.

For Moderate Risk Buildings:

Building plans will have to be prepared by a competent professional and the building plans will have to be submitted to the concerned local body along with the fees and other requisite documents. The local body shall grant the building permit within 20 days.

For High Risk Buildings:

Building plans will have to be prepared by a qualified architect and the building plans will have to be submitted to the concerned local body along with the fees and other requisite documents. The local body shall grant the building permit within 30 days

13.5.3 Industrial Buildings

For approval of the buildings meant for use as storage buildings/ warehouses/ godowns, risk based classification shall be as per Table 13.5  

Table 13.5 Risk Matrix for Industries 

Risks    Low  Moderate  High 
Criteria  Parameters       
Size of the Plot Square Meters upto 350 m2  Above 350 m2 All sizes
Height of building Meters  Less than  15 m Less than  15 m 15 m and above 
Abutting Road width Meters  Min.  12 m Min.  12 m Min.  12 m

Note:

i. The level of Risk is classified according the size and height of the industrial building proposed.

ii. The Urban Local Body/ Urban Development Authority shall empanel professionals as per “Appendix E-1”..

iii. The building application processing fees shall be derived by an automated built-in calculator in the online system.  

Suggested modes of Fast Tracking:

For Low Risk Buildings:

1. Deemed Approval with Self-Certification

2. Plans to be submitted along with Structural drawings which does not require sanction  

For Moderate Risk Buildings:

1. Plans to be submitted to the empanelled professional.

2. Fire/Structural safety certification by Fire Services/ Structural Engineers  

3. Approval to be granted within 10 working days by the empanelled professional.

4. Approved plan to be submitted to ULB/DA.

For High Risk Buildings:

1. Online application

2. Immediate acknowledgement by software  

3. Fire/Structural safety certification by Fire Services/ Structural Engineers

4. Approval by ULB/DA within 20 working days.  

13.6 Other Suggestions to enhance ease of doing business:  

Some other suggestions, regarding Fast-Track construction permits are:

13.6.1 Citizens’ Charter

A Citizens’ charter lists out the timelines and upper limits of time for the delivery of citizen services of the organization. The objective of issuing the charter is to improve the quality of public service in terms of timely delivery. Such charters should be brought out by all municipalities to maintain high standards of accountability and transparency. The standards of service to be provided, the maximum number of days required for building approvals and the standards procedures should be listed out in the citizens’ charter. Some states have gone a step further and introduced a citizen service delivery guarantee act whereby the time lines prescribed by a citizen charter are made statutory and binding on officials.

13.6.2 Capacity building  

Capacity building measures are to be adopted for such functionaries to identify Training Needs (TNA) and other technical requirement of duties that they are required to discharge. Fresh recruitments commensurate to the technical qualification/ experience are to be made by the State Government, if there is complete absence of the technical expertise needed for the said services. 

13.6.3 Empowered Committees  

The Authorities may also consider constituting ‘Empowered Committees’ or ‘Peer Expert Groups’ for undertaking scrutiny and approval. This committee can be manned as per the requirement and area of more than one municipality can be put under its jurisdiction.  

13.6.4 Simplification of bye-laws

The building Bye-Laws need to be simplified for easy comprehension of lay person as well as professionals involved in developmental activities. The simplification process should also include the process of application, the filling up of forms and streamlining the process of application. 

*****