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Government permissions should not take more than seven working days says Maharashtra law, but the reality is different

It takes 18-24 months to start a construction project, thanks to the delays in getting official permissions

The Maharashtra government had passed an Act (No XXI, 2006), which is a legislation to provide for regulation of transfers of government servants and prevention of delay in discharge of official duties. Under this 2006 Act, no files should remain pending with any government servant or office for more than seven working days. However, the Act remains on paper. 

To start any construction in the real-estate industry it takes a minimum of two years to get all the permissions in place. According to industry experts, developers have to pay hefty amounts to speed up the process.
 
"It is fact that a file should not lie with any government official for more than seven working days but government officials have their own reasoning on why they hold up a file. If it is has been bought to the government's notice, we have taken disciplinary action against such officials. For all these reasons we are trying to come up with one-window clearance for all projects and for the (redevelopment projects) which fall under Section 337, we would soon see one-window clearance. For slum-rehabilitation schemes, we have already placed a system where only one-window clearance is needed to proceed with the project," said Sachin Ahir, minister of State for housing, Maharashtra.

The Act also states that urgent files should be disposed as per urgency-preferably in one day or the next day morning or in four days.

"The Act stipulates that officers appointed by the government of Maharashtra cannot keep a file on their table for more than seven days but nobody follows it. This hampers the growth of the real-estate industry as the projects get delayed for a long time," said Vinod C Sampat, advocate and proprietor, Vinod C Sampat and Co.

If a file is required to be referred to any other department, the concerned department shall take the decision and necessary action within 45 days. 

A government official who is found wilfully or intentionally delaying or neglecting the discharge of official duties or carrying out official work assigned to him would be liable for appropriate disciplinary action under the Maharashtra Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules 1979 or any other relevant disciplinary rules applicable to such employees.

"It takes a minimum of 18 months to get the permissions to start the construction on any project. We cannot dig a hole in the ground before that and the projects get delayed. We should have one-window clearance to prevent the delays in a project," said Arun K Nanda, chairman, Mahindra Lifespaces.

But who monitors these rules? Government officials easily escape any disciplinary action against them because there is no regulator for the real-estate industry. Until a regulator is formed for this industry, it will be hard to bring transparency and discipline into the functioning of this sector, and of course, the official machinery.
 

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