February 10, 2021 11:06:54 am
“Shaam ko aana 4 baje…deal ho jayegi,” was the strange response an occupation certificate applicant received from a woman official at the office of SDO (Buildings) — as he enquired about the file he had submitted to the official five years ago.
The Indian Express accompanied Kuljit Singh, an architect in his late 60s, who has been trying to obtain an occupation certificate for his client Roopa Sharma, owner of a house in Sector 34, since February 8, 2016.
Singh, along with The Indian Express correspondent, went to the SDO Building and met an official named Manoj, requesting him to search for the status of his file online, as the record keeper was not present at his room.
“The system is showing that the file is with Bharti,” the clerk said.
Singh walked up to Bharti and sought for the status of his file . “Can you please check what objections have been raised,” he asked Bharti. To which she replied that there was no objection and the file had reached her that very day itself.
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“Check kardo beta please, bahut der se bhaag raha hun idhar udhar…just check kardo file apke table pe hai bhi ya nahi,” the old man requested her. However, Bharti was in no mood to relent. Raising her pitch, she snapped, “Bahut saari files hain you never know kahan padi hai. Mera time waste nahi hoga kya file dekhne mein…aaj kardungi deal kaha to (There are many files.You never know where it is. Won’t my time get wasted if I start looking for it. I told you, I will deal it today.)”
As Singh persisted, she snapped again, “What will happen if I check? Will you stop running around?”
Singh nudged her yet again, following which she said in a low voice, “Sir aap sham ko aana, deal ho jaayegi. 4 baje aana.”
Then, Singh headed to SDO Bimal Joshi’s office to check about the status of the file. The correspondent told Joshi that the lady official was asking them to come in the evening.
Joshi, who seemed to be doing multiple things, continued to talk to his clerk while we spoke to him. However, a persistent Kuljit Singh again requested to call for the file. “The file has been going around in circles. Sometimes you call for the CD, sometimes you call for drawings…Everything has been submitted, please let me know…I have been running around to no avail.”
The SDO stepped out for a moment and returned with a quick verdict. “Letter lag raha hai…drawings readable nahi hai.”
Singh was shocked at this latest objection, considering the lady official had just told him that there was no objection. “Those drawings can be read even by a layman,” murmured Singh, his shoulders slumped. “Koi aur masla hai to bata do,” he sighed.
An unrelenting Joshi asked Singh to come again next day between 11 am and 12 noon.
Determined to trace his file, Singh also went to the store room at the office. “This is the status when the applicant (Roopa Sharma) has even written to the Prime Minister’s office about this inordinate delay,” Singh lamented.
Recounting his endless toil, he said it was in February 2016 that he had applied for the occupation certificate (OC), along with all the required documents.
Though as per rules, he should have received the OC by March 4, 2016, the junior engineer concerned visited the house for an inspection almost after a year, on July 26, 2017, and raised objections on minor issues such as the height of the grill, among others.
The inspection process, said Singh, was endless after they asked for reinspection following rectification. The re-inspection was conducted in 2019, but the junior engineer levelled objections such as ground floor found locked, fresh fire NOC required etc.
Then, on February 26, 2019, the SDO Building sent a letter stating that the height of grill had been rectified but plans under self certification were not released.
“They make the entire system so convoluted and make you jump through so many hoops that by the end you are ready to meet all their demands. This online system is an eye wash,” Kuljit fumed as he recalled his never-ending struggle to get the OC.
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