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Online project to speed up building approvals comes a cropper in Rajasthan

JAIPUR: The fate of online Building Plan Approval System (BPAS), an initiative under the Smart Raj project to provide relief to thousands of residents in Jaipur and urban local bodies (ULB), is hanging in balance.

Even after four months, the directorate of local bodies (DLB) has failed to implement this system. This is the second time that the online service has failed to take off after the launch.

On April 2015, the DLB had appointed Fourth Dimension Solutions Pvt Ltd for launching the BPAS in 191 urban local bodies (ULB) in a phased manner. It was also assigned to conduct a survey of existing properties in these local bodies.

Sources said that as per the conditions mentioned in the agreement, the firm had to start the online process in 32 ULBs by February 2017. In the second phase, it was assigned to provide the online service in 43 other ULBs. The remaining ULBs were to be taken up in the last phase.

The project was first launched on June 8, 2016. However, many local bodies highlighted practical problems in implementing the online system. Thereafter, the BPAS was again launched on October 1, 2017, following directions from the state government. It has been four months now, but there is no progress on this front.

Jaipur mayor Ashok Lahoti said, “The company is incompetent to start the service. It does not have sufficient manpower and other resources. We will soon write to the state government to take action and blacklist the company.”

Project was to boost ease of doing biz

A source said, “Instead of imposing a penalty on the contractor firm, the DLB has given it an extension.”

The project was aimed at pushing the ‘ease of doing business’ in the state.

At the time of launch, the residents were assured that they won’t have to undergo the tormenting bureaucratic processes for acquiring several licences and approvals from different departments.

In fact, it was claimed that the applicants won’t not even have to visit a single government office as all approvals would be provided online through Smart Raj portal.

As a pilot project, the online service was proposed to start at all seven divisional headquarters and two district headquarters of Bundi and Sawai Madhopur, besides Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC) from October 1.

A JMC official said, “We are still accepting offline applications at our headquarters.”

As per the provisions, the building plan approval process has to be completed within 30 days. And if the approval is sought under the ‘fast-track process’, it has to be issued in 24 hours. The applicant can proceed with the construction after depositing due charges.

China’s January Home Prices Rise even as Top Cities Register Decline

BEIJING: China’s new home prices grew in January although major cities saw early signs of softening, as the government continued its efforts to rein in speculative demand to fend off bubble risk.

The acceleration in prices across the nation suggests moves by provincial governments to support first-time buyers and upgraders by relaxing some purchase restrictions may be further fanning price gains in a market where fear of missing out is strong and mortgage fraud is rampant.

Average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities rose 5 % in January from a year earlier and 0.3 % month on month, according to Reuters calculations based on the data from the statistics bureau on Saturday.

The government removed the sales prices for affordable housing from the latest monthly calculations, distorting comparisons with previous months’ growth data.

Prices in December grew 5.3 percent on year and 0.4 percent on month, based on data which included affordable housing.

The National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement that prices were “stable while slightly lower” last month, as eleven major cities fell year on year.

“The housing prices in tier-one cities reversed from growth to a decline and there was a slowdown in the growth rate in tier two and three cities,” it said.

China’s housing market has boomed since late 2015, giving a major boost to the economy, but is expected to gradually slow as measures to curb property speculation drag on sales.

The challenge for policymakers is to counter the risks from a slowdown in the sector and curbs to excessive borrowing without endangering a growth target of around 6.5 percent this year. A softening but still resilient property market, however, will be welcome news ahead of the annual parliament meeting in March where leaders will set economic targets for 2018.

The data marks the first price decline in tier one cities in more than two years, said Yan Yuejin, an analyst with Shanghai-based E-house China R&D Institute.

Purchase restrictions are also trickling down into lower-tier cities, while monetary policy tightening is leading to higher mortgage rates.

“Tier two and three cities will probably experience a similar decline,” he said.

Those have started knocking some heat off the market. Property sales have slowed across three different tiers in January by more than 10 percent in 15 major cities monitored by China Index Academy, a private property research firm.

Official property sales and investment data for January-February will be released by the Statistics Bureau on March 14.

But demand appeared to be more resilient than expected amid government moves to support “rigid demand” of first-time buyers and up graders by relaxing some purchase restrictions.

The central Chinese city of Wuhan, for example, announced a pilot programme in February that allows first-time buyers priority in winning new home purchase bids.

Some analysts noted that China’s housing market is becoming increasingly polarised, as prices in some smaller cities with no purchase restrictions picked up visibly but were flat or declined slightly month-on-month in most of the biggest cities.

(Additional reporting by Yawen Chen; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)


Seven lakh houses for poor to be built by 2019 in Andhra Pradesh: P Narayana

 VISAKHAPATNAM: State minister for urban development P Narayanaurged officials of the district of Vizianagaram to lay their focus on constructing affordable houses for the underprivileged in the next 15 months.

During a visit to Saripalli village on an inspection tour, the MAUD minister observed that the state government had identified that there was a need to construct over eight lakh houses for the poor and added that close to seven lakh units would be built in the next 15 months.

The minister observed that in the first phase of construction, over 35,000 units would be inaugurated by March 24. He added that over 4,000 units had been allocated to the Vizianagaram district. The minister pointed out that the government would take on the mammoth task of constructing pucca housing with proper amenities within the next 15 months.

The minister further added that the state government had ensured the allotment of 6,00,000 units from the Union government and pointed out that all the major urban development officials have been sent to different parts of the country to study the best models of construction and to use the best materials available, so that the poor would not be denied a quality home and life.

Bareilly Development Body Seals 35 Illegal Constructions

BAREILLY: In a massive month-long drive against illegal constructions across the city, the Bareilly Development Authority (BDA) has sealed as many as 35 such buildings which were being constructed without its permission.

Badaun road, Mini-Bypass, Lal Phatak, Kargaina, 100-Foot Road, Gangapur, Rampur Garden and Bannuwal Nagar are among these areas, where illegal constructions were rampant.

BDA officials told TOI that the sealed structures were being constructed without getting their building layouts approved by the authority.

Speaking with TOI, BDA secretary S P Singh said, “We have issued warnings to the owners concerned to stop the construction and get the building maps approved. But, despite repeated warnings, they continued with the construction, and hence we decided to launch a month-long crackdown on the offenders.”

“Till date, 35 illegal under-construction premises, especially on the city outskirts, have been sealed. If they don’t get their building layouts approved, they will not be allowed to resume construction.”

Singh added, “If they try to break the BDA seal to resume construction, legal action will be initiated against them.”

BDA officials said the month-long drive, started on February 8, was carried out on the outskirts of the city — mainly in Kareli and Kargaina areas near Badaun road, Lal Phatak and Mini-Bypass — and 14 illegal structures were sealed in these areas.

On February 20, BDA sealed six illegal constructions on 100-Foot road near Pilibhit-Bypass and Rampur Garden; eight in Narkulaganj, Priyadarshni Nagar, Stadium road and Jail road on February 21; six in Suresh Sharma Nagar and Kunwarpur on February 22; and one near Pilibhit-Bypass on February 24, said officials.

Meanwhile, the authority has invited applications from mechanics for shops/land under BDA’s Transport Nagar Yojana. The last date for receiving application is February 28. As many as 19 applicants (mechanics) have already been allotted plots so far. “We have been removing encroachments by mechanics from the footpaths in TP Nagar. But, recently, we also directed them to get themselves legally registered with the authority. So far, 19 applicants have been allotted land in TP Nagar,” added BDA secretary.

Tirupur: Rs 2.8 lakh fine on trader for trying to sell imported sand

TIRUPUR: The Tirupur district administration on Saturday imposed a fine of about Rs 2.8 lakh on an importer for trying to illegally sell imported sand from Malaysia in Tamil Nadu.

The administration had seized 31 units of sand from nine trucks and handed it over to the public works department (PWD).

On February 16, Udumalpet revenue officials found the nine trucks transporting the sand from the Cochin Port. “We believe the Kerala-based importer has bought the sand to sell in Kerala after getting due permission. But he did not receive approval from Tamil Nadu’s PWD to sell the sand here,” said a revenue official.

Each truck was carrying three and a half units of sand to deliver the consignment at Vayalur near Palani in Dindigul district. “Since Tamil Nadu has banned the direct sales of imported sand without approval only in the last December, Udumalpet revenue divisional officers had consulted the state’s geology and mining department before seizing the vehicles,” said the official.

On Saturday, the revenue officials imposed a fine of Rs 31,000 for each truck and seized the 31 units of sand. They released the trucks after the importer paid the fine.

“We have handed over the sand to the PWD, which stored it in its office on Sardar Road at Udumalpet. After conducting quality test, the PWD may use it for government sanctioned construction work,” said a senior revenue official.

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