Thursday, December 13, 2012

Corruption, Real Estate & Common Man!

If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher...
Dr. Abdul Kalam

While reading the recent news about corruption about real estate in city, in all the news papers this quote strikes a very imposing note on my mind. In our society three things are strictly taboo when it’s sharing personal experiences & they are Personal Earning, Sex life of a man & Corruption confrontation of an individual! Many will frown up on my observation but we are very vocal & expressive when speaking on above three issues but in general only! Never a guy will tell his real income nor his love life & surely not to whom he has bribed or from whom he has accepted if any & the quantum of the same.

Well first two are not the concern of us here but the last one sure is as that's the dark side of real estate today. Whatever fame this industry has earned, corruption has main role in earning it! Let me
very start clear the thing  that this article is not to change the or to blame the system nor I am some Ramshastri Prabhune (a very upright & non corrupt figure in history), it’s just to make common man aware how things move here & why it is so & how it can be really curtailed. I am deliberately using the term curtailed & not stopped as to me Corruption is an Attitude or Tendency & not just an act of reflex! Like the famous Akbar Birbal story where the corrupt officer when put in charge of a job like counting waves of ocean, there also he manages to get bribe from the people threatening them under the name of Badshah, it’s the tendency of a person which makes a system corrupt & not the system. Unfortunately more & more people in the system are thinking about individual benefits from the post they are holding, forgetting that's it for serving the society & not an individual!

Many will say what’s new, we
know most of the story as its teaming up of Builders, Politicians & Govt officers & all are equally involved in corruption. Well in some way its true; everybody associated with this industry is well aware about the corruption involved at every step of the industry & the black money involved yet no one acknowledges the same in public or even in close circles too! Because so strong are the roots of this cancer spread all over the industry that if you want to stay in the business then either you have to accept it or leave the industry is simple funda. You can live inside by ignoring it or saying that you won’t be part of it & with all due respect if anybody is saying that he hasn’t paid a single rupee for any of his work then he is telling a lie! Nothing moves here without money is a well known unsaid fact. Agreed there are few people in the system which we call Government who are non corrupt but percentage of such personalities is very less & getting obsolete every day or they get such a post which is non executive or on their name the subordinates takes the share. The system right from land purchasing is set in such a way that either the person has to surrender in the process of leave the project. The term transparency, single window, online clearance, fast track are just name sake & to make the image of concern organizations look rosy. In fact when you go to buy a piece of land to get the documents of that land like 7/12 extract & demarcation which are very basic ownership papers, you have to face the difficulties like the person isn’t at the chair or he isn’t finding some record or you have to feel N numbers of forms to prove that it’s your land & then in Govt record there is something else which isn’t matching to your claim of land belongs to you & the list goes on. Then there is earlier pending files, so how can be your application considered when there are so many earlier proposals awaiting the action! Why can’t the Govt itself measures all the land on their own & issue the demarcation to the individual, at least give a try from any district to do so. As for any land buyer time is the essence with the stakes involved & to save that he surrenders to the system even though there isn’t any lacuna with the documents.

Then there is registering the deal of any land, here too one has to pay! I can think of no any bigger joke than to pay the money just to register deal of my own land! But it happens here & for that we have online re
gistration of documents with a central server for each revenue region yet the system gets hanged or the concern person finds some discrepancy in the title of the document or the costing of the deal & unless you wet his hands the deal don’t get registered is experience of every individual going to registration. In state like Gujarat you can enter registration deal by sitting at your home & sure we can find out ways to reduce the manual interference in the entire process; like earlier the entire process was manual making things far more person oriented but now at least numbering of the documentation as well getting originals & true copies of the same is much faster & cheaper is a truth!

Then comes the most
difficult part of real estate i.e. getting sanctions for your building; the issue for which the whole topic once again came in lime light is arrest of a officer from local body who was working with building permission department! Here every one knows how the things moves & for whom! There are good top bosses as well few lower cadre officers who are clean but unfortunately again number is poor of such people & the whole system has got rotten in the past. I am not trying to blame just the system but the worst effect of corruption is when you know that even if you are following every rule still you have to pay then you try to take advantage of system & once a person has accepted some money in form of bribe his moral to control the law is finished & that is what happening around. I know many developers who break the law & their justification is any way we are paying ransom then why not take some advantage for our own sake! There is very nice fraze in marathi "Ekani gay marali mhanun dusaryane wasru maru naye" means, if one commits some crime & get away doesn’t mean you should also commit the same crime! But then it’s for those who are bound by morals & values, terms which are just for the sake of books now!

Most will say, it’s easier to say
don’t pay bribe but then who is going to face the music at the end? And from where all this money is going to be recovered? Needless to say from the pocket of the end user i.e. the common man whose dream of affordable home keeps going in costlier. Again not only the money but the tendency of breaking the law which this corruption generates is equally dangerous which in a way is byproduct of corruption. Issue is now not the corruption, it’s how we are going to stop this demon which is rather has spread like a cancer in every segment of real estate. It’s even in private also, may be a bit less percentage as there is an individual beneficiary who keeps close eye on the transaction but where ever there is chance people do try as they too have seen their owner doing the same with the Govt. recently in news there was a fraud of large amount by entire chain of high ranking officers of a well known construction firm! So what it indicates? The corruption now isn’t restricted to Govt authorities in real estate but spreading in private sector too!

As I mentioned the key is making crystal clear rules & guide lines & their implementation in s
trictest way & earliest. The major reason non accountability for the proposals pending at particular table. There has to be tracking system & regularly monitored by vigilance department, this is lacking from most of the Govt organizations. As I mentioned earlier it’s the delay of which a common man or business man is afraid of because of the stakes involved & finally agrees to settle for a ransom. Corruption won’t go in a single day as it’s now deeply rooted in the entire system; we need to find our short term as well long term solutions to minimize it. On long term front, it’s the monopoly which is making the Govt agencies feel that they are supreme authority & people have to come to them only for any clearances’, this feel is making them behaving as per their will & demand ransom for performing their duty. Like we have only MSEDCL formerly MSEB to give us power supply which is a must for making able any home livable. But in Mumbai there is Tata power, Reliance as well MSEDCL so obviously there is a healthy competition between them to give better service to the customer & you need not have to pay any bribe for power supply. The same example we witnessed in telephone, few years back when there wasn’t any mobile getting land line phone connection was like building a Taj Mahal & now BSNL is behind you to get the connection. Similar steps have been taken by Railways where online reservation has bought down corruption in reservation of the travel, ultimately making journey of common man easy. What I strongly feel is trying to form a system with target base & making it multi face can surely make the difference in reducing corruption in real estate. Like why we need registrar office only to register the document? Why can’t there be number of licensed registrar offices privately run? Similarly if we have proper bylaws framed giving clear meaning, why we need only a Town Planning office or PMC to sanction these plans? Why can’t we appoint number of architects/engineers to do the same on commission basis with panel of advocates to certify the land title & ask them to issue building permission as well NA orders? Also we can put all this on web site making the same available for scrutiny for any eye. And then as mentioned put some vigilance body above all them whether they are doing the job properly or not & if found guilty punish them hard & fast! This is just one of the suggestions which will come to any common man's mind.

Ultimately when we all know & agree that corruption is wrong & should be stopped, the question is then why it’s still there & going strong? Somewhere as Dr Kalam says each of us is father, mother or a teacher to somebody; unfortunate we are forgetting what we are & till then this cancer will keep eating the society making each of us victim in some way or other!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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