The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has transferred six sub-engineers and two assistant engineers from the Building Proposals (BP) department. Reason: A “purposeful” delay in providing permissions in the K/West and K/East wards (includes Andheri West and East). The engineers have been named in the preliminary inquiry report (a copy of which is with HT) conducted by the vigilance and BP chief in August.
Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta has now called for an inquiry into the functioning of the BP department, considered to be among one of the most corrupt departments in the civic body — it has direct interface with real estate developers. This is the third such probe ordered by the civic chief after the roads and desilting scam in a bid to clean up the BMC.
Mehta had already transferred executive engineer BR Raut from the department while ordering an inquiry. Now, the sub-engineers transferred include MP Bhat, Shrikant Rade, Bharat Hasija, RK Yadav, AU Batliwala and S Umbase. The assistant engineers include PV Sheth and SI Bendre.
A senior civic official said, “The engineers have been transferred to various departments with immediate effect. The full-fledged inquiry is expected to take place in the next one to two months.”
Mehta had ordered an inquiry into these wards after developers complained of alleged delays in approvals. According to the report submitted to the civic chief, there were delays in 63 applications of the 356 files assessed for permissions.
In the survey section of BP, which analyses the plot plans submitted by developers, 64 of the 129 permissions were delayed. The section is expected to give its remarks within seven days, which was not followed in these cases.
The report also states there were delays mainly in the concession and amendment permissions, stretching from 11 to 37 days. The BP department provides five types of permissions, including concessions (mainly with open spaces), amendment plans, intimation of disapproval, commencement certificate and occupation certificate.
There are five building proposal offices spread across the city to grant these permissions. The report suggests that all the concession and amendment applications be re-submitted by developers.
Officials investigated all files uploaded on the AutoDCR, an online software inaugurated in 2015 under BMC’s Ease of Doing Business, between January 2016 to August 2016. It also studied 10 random proposals submitted by architects.
AutoDCR was brought with the intention of curbing malpractices in the department. It measures the height, width, length of flats, open areas, refuge spaces and also indicates deficiencies. Despite the online software, the report states officials still process the plans manually. It also states software issues, slow net connectivity and the engineers having various other administrative works as the reasons for the delay in approvals.
Architects and developers have, however, alleged that the engineers delay the files expecting a heavy bribe in return. They also refuse to accept the files online and arbitrarily reject the files, they alleged. Architects also say an internal inquiry in BMC will not improve anything in the department. A senior architect, who did not wish to be named, said, “There is no point in conducting an internal inquiry. The BMC must ask for a probe by the anti-corruption bureau to set things right in the department.”