The Model Building Bye-Laws 2016 by Ministry of Urban Development, Govt. of India
But, after the first reading of the document, I was pleasantly surprised! First of all, I really appreciated that the basic objective outlined in the document was to bridge the gap - where building bye laws to do not exist, this Document will hopefully give guidance in formulating local bye laws. Secondly, where local bye laws and enforcing mechanisms do exist, these are guidelines to streamline the timelines and the overall mechanisms, plus act like a parent document, in ensuring that all bye laws conform to some standards.
Again, when anyone says, they are going to "streamline processes and reduce timelines", there is skepticism. However, the Model Building Bye-Laws 2016 has really put out a first class document in actually outlining detailed Do's and Dont's for local bodies to reduce Building Plan Sanction timelines, in what is called as "Ease of Doing Business" measures.
Following is a list of Salient features of the Model Building Bye-Law 2016, which are clearly impressive and should see a quick follow through with States and local authorities:
1. There is a provision for 'empaneled professionals' to scrutinize Building Plans at the local level. This is a very bold step and something that has been advocated by us for some time, particularly, for expertise oriented subjects like Green & Energy Efficient Buildings. The fact that the Governments is open to devolve scrutiny functions to private players is truly a step towards better governance.
2. There is a provision for Deemed Sanction and Deemed Occupancy Certificate. This is a fantastic guideline, asking local governments to rate the risk of buildings, create standard plans for small buildings and basically trust a team of building professionals like Architects, Structural Engineers, Service Engineers to take the responsibility and move ahead with Deemed Sanctions.
3. The guideline to create Standard Building plans & structures for very small structures, on plot areas less that 105 sq m, is a great step to ensure timely and affordable housing units.
4. Another interesting guideline is the establishment of an Urban Arts Commission/ Urban design Cell and a Dedicated Cell led by a Town/Urban Planner. This has been spoken about, also mentioned in the National Building Code 2005, but remains on paper. Hope this Model Bye Law, under the need to ease business processes, pushes this requirements at local level.
5. The guideline categorically has recommended removal of the practice of "Notice of Commencement" amongst other seemingly futile and duplicate processes required for Building construction.
6. Another very interesting aspect, which the Model Bye Law 2016 addresses is the upkeep and maintenance of buildings for Fire Safety. While we as building professionals may put all the fire fighting equipment in place, if the Building does not maintain it over the period of its use, it is a very serious threat. The guidelines can now be taken up by the Chief Fire Officer at the local level to even audit buildings during its use.
7. The guidelines for Streamlining of Building Plan Approvals are most impressive and I see a very serious attempt by the Central Government to reduce the time frames in this process. The Model Bye Laws guides the local authority to create multiple layer local plans, like Development Plans, that clearly indicate the restrictions put in place by Defence, Airports etc. The detailed guidelines on a Common Application Form and the NOC processing to be done online, are really very progressive, bold and path breaking for Indian bureacracy.
8. Lastly, the issue of Environmental Clearance, a sore point for most projects, and which supposedly caused huge delays, has been partially revoked. The categorization of building projects into A - 5000-20000 sq m, B - 20000-50000 sq m and C - 50000-150000 sq m and their corresponding environmental measures are listed, which need to be included in the local bye laws. This is a brave step and will be quite fruitful.
It remains to be seen how States and further, Local Municipal Authorities, make use of this Model Bye Laws 2016, but all in all, this is a great initiative of Modi government and Shri. Venkaiah Naidu's commitment to reduce governance, streamline procedures and make it easy to transact business in India. And most of, the Building and Construction Sector, reeling under global downturn and some of the stringent provisions of the Real Estate Bill, will rejoice, if these guidelines are put into practice and change the scenario of Building Sanctions!