In a move that will increase transparency in local bodies, the state government has initiated an online process to sanction the planning permission for the construction of houses. Planning permission refers to the approval needed from a local body authority for the construction of a building or to make any renovation to an existing structure.
The online process will be carried out for plots measuring less than 2,500 sq ft, with a residential accommodation that is less than 1,200 sq ft. An announcement regarding this was made by state Municipality and Administrative Minister SP Velumani on Thursday and will be applicable in 15 corporations, 121 municipalities and 528 town panchayats in the state.
The minister told the media that the planning permission was based on the Model Building Bye-Laws 2016, which was proposed by the Centre. These bye-laws are legal tools used â€˜to regulate coverage, height, building bulk, and architectural design and construction aspects of buildings so as to achieve orderly development of an areaâ€™. They are aimed to protect buildings against earthquakes, fire, structural failures and other hazards.
A New Indian Express report from 2018 states that the Centre was displeased that Tamil Nadu was yet to incorporate all 14 features of the model building bye-laws.
The aim of implementing the bye-laws is to reportedly simplify the planning permission procedure and remove the need for any physical inspection. Approval for the regularised plot (a legally habitable area) can be sought by uploading all the necessary documents such as building plan and structural stability certificate. These documents, however, have to be issued by a registered civil engineer as well as notarised.
According to The Hindu, the engineer should issue a structural stability certificate but if a deviation is found in the final construction, the planning permission will be cancelled and the registration of the engineer will be revoked. Both the approval and digital certificate will be issued online.
Anti-corruption activist Jayaram Venkatesan, the Convenor of Arappor Iyyakkam, says this is a welcome move.
"As long as there is no aspect where officials physically interfere in the process, it is likely to remain corruption-free. Usually, such approvals involve bribes and this could put an end to it," he says.
The online approval process also requires information on the rainwater harvesting system set in place for the building. This comes into sharp focus after an audit conducted by the government found that at least five lakh buildings in the state did not have rainwater harvesting systems.