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Merely getting an occupation certificate (OC) may not necessarily guarantee that your house is ready for occupation. In what is seen as another step to remove red tape in granting approvals for construction projects, the Mumbai municipality has decided to issue occupation certificates even to projects where the interior works for the constructed apartments are incomplete.
While the measure is a part of the civic body’s attempt to streamline the process of issuing construction permissions, it is at odds with the popular belief among flat buyers that the occupation certificate (OC) was the final document indicating that an apartment was ready for occupation.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s latest manual states, “In cases where the developer or an owner intends to hand over the premises constructed as per the approved plans but with internal finishing for individual premises incomplete, then on the basis of declaration and indemnity by the developer or the owner, occupation permission shall be given without insisting on completion of the internal finishing work.”
This means that the developers can now apply for OCs even when only raw flats have been constructed. Shifting the responsibility on the developers and the project architects to comply with the stipulated norms, the circular further states, “In such cases, the architects will inspect the site and submit a certificate of the verification stating that the building was completed as per the last approved plan in all respects except the internal finishing work of flats, but with completed external finishing and RCC work. The completion certificate of drainage and water supply works will also have to be submitted. The developer will give an undertaking that the location of the toilets and the kitchen (in individual flats) won’t be modified while completing the interiors.” The civic body has also introduced a caveat that a building’s structural members (columns, pillars, and beams) won’t be altered and no additional floor space would be consumed during the interior work post issuance of the OC. “All common areas in a building will be built before applying for the occupation permission,” it adds.
While some real estate experts are skeptical about the measure, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta justified it. “An OC is accorded when the construction of a building is completed as per the approved plan under the prevalent development control regulations. The municipality’s role is to ensure that the construction is as per these regulations. There are other agencies who have the responsibility to ensure that the commitments made by a developer to the flat buyer are fulfilled,” Mehta said. Some experts apprehend that this move may see a rise in cases of builders abandoning projects, but Mehta clarified that the occupation permission was being given to such projects earlier as well. “Earlier this was given on the discretion of a civic official or the commissioner, the difference now is that we have evolved a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the same,” Mehta said.
Incidentally, Mehta has now made it mandatory for developers to upload video clips and photographs of the project work online, while applying for part or full OC. Putting more accountability on engineers of the building proposals department to complete processing of proposals in a timely manner, the new manual states that OCs will have to be issued within 15 days of application in cases where there were no discrepancies. A seven-day timeline has been fixed in cases where the grant of OC is to be refused.
Attempts to streamline building approvals were fast tracked after a World Bank report in 2014 titled “Dealing with Construction Permits”, that had come down heavily on the existing system.