Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Digital India, M -Governance & Real Estate!

“It is the greatest truth of our age: Information is not knowledge.”… Caleb Carr

A son of Lucien Carr, a former UPI editor and a key Beat generation figure, he was born in Manhattan and lived for much of his life on the Lower East Side. He attended New York Friends Seminary, Kenyon College and New York University, earning a B.A. in military and diplomatic history. He writes frequently on military and political affairs. While our country is celebrating Digital Week these lines by Carr  rings in my mind as on one side yes its sign of changes surely for country like ours that we are getting aware of the digital power yet somewhere have we understood the power really is the question I ask to myself! Remember any power if not handled properly can back fire; as they say in hind “Do Dhari Talwar” i.e. two edged sword, it may cut the person handling it! Especially when the power is in hidden form is digital!   

Here I will share few lines from our Hon Prime Minister’s recent interview which I came across on a blog…

“Articulating global worries over cyber security, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India should come up with solutions to meet the challenge posed by this threat of “bloodless war” as he launched a digital campaign to which top companies pledged Rs 4.5 lakh crore.
Inaugurating ‘Digital India Week’ here, he pitched for a digital revolution in the country, saying it is necessary to deal with problems like corruption, help provide transparent and efficient governance and bridge the rich-poor divide.
“We have to move from E-governance to M-governance. M-governance does not mean Modi governance. It means Mobile governance,” he said in the presence of several ministerial colleagues and who’s who of Indian industry and CEOs of some global companies.
The Prime Minister noted that India has huge capabilities in the field of IT and promised to encourage manufacturing within the country of electronic goods, which account for second largest imports after petroleum products. He specifically mentioned start ups in this regard.
While highlighting the advantages of the IT, Modi said, at the same time, “clouds of a bloodless war are hovering over the world. The world is terrified by this….India has a big role to play in this.
“Can India play this big role? India has talent. Can India provide a shield to the world by providing innovative and credible solutions? Why should we not have such a confidence? We should accept this challenge to ensure that the entire humanity lives in peace,” Modi said.
While talking about dangers posed to cyber security, he said, “somebody, with education of 10th or 12th class, sitting thousands of miles away, can clean up your bank account with a click of mouse.” This situation needs to be addressed, he said.

Well very futuristic approach indeed, here I remember my first visit to Dubai some twenty years back when mobile phone were unheard & remote control operations was only in Bond movies for us, even though we used to live in advanced city like Pune. There I was just zapped by seeing people opening their car doors by remote control or talking to their home from car though it was just a cordless phone & thought I was living a Bond movie dream! But in less than eight years I was not only opening my own car by remote I was using my own cell phone though per minute call charges were whooping Rs 32! And soon in next ten year now even my site watch man has a cell phone & my tile contractor sends me snaps of tile pattern in toilet at site on whats-app & asks me for approving it from his cell! Does this mean India has already become digital? Well from this aspect let’s see what real estate is doing on digital front?

Apart from the example of my own site mason using M technology the picture isn’t much good. As every Govt organization may it is Town Planning or NA permission or IGR i.e. registration office or local governing bodies like PMC, they all do speak about paperless permissions but is it so in reality? Ask any developer or even the common man his experience with real estate related Govt processes & scene isn’t changed a bit; expect the terminologies like e-registration or online sanction are used a lot in conversation but rest all is same. Take example of E-Registration of documents like flat purchase agreement, agreed now in Pune city you can get it registrar anywhere unlike area wise registration office yet the both the parties has to visit that registrar office which usually has no decent basic infrastructure like sitting arrangement! Then again it’s just city which is on central server, yet even if both the parties are from city & the land is out of city limit they have to go that particular registration office for e.g. land is in mulshi then one has to go to paud office! Also the payment terms changes as per individual office policy & no single web site provides all the information regarding different clauses or stamp duty charges! And if some information is on web site then the officer on ground don’t follow it or tells that it’s not updated! Yet today people have to wait for hours at registration office & there are arguments over ready reckoner rates & such issues! Why there can’t be all the data stored properly on IGR web site & it’s updated regularly instead requiring human interference every now & then?

The Revenue Department & Town Planning aren’t lagging far behind here! All the documents related land ownership & its measurements is still the biggest problem the real estate has to face. The land records are never in update condition & each piece of land becomes a separate subject of study. Two very basic ownership documents i.e. 7/12 extract & demarcation never matches & the land owner has to run between city survey office & collector office i.e. talathi office to match the record. Then no single server provides information of all land records under one collectorate leave apart entire State! So unless someone responds to public notice, no one knows who are the people who want to object the deal? Why we still believe in news paper notices about land deals? Why can’t State Govt comes up with one web site on which every public notice related to each land deal will be published & the person who wants to object it should also respond on that same web site, instead the age old argument of the advocate that, “My lord, my client hasn’t come across that particular public notice in some news paper!” This single step will avoid so much of confusion in all land deals & now when every second person is having 3G or access to internet then this will be best solution  as well time & cost saving! Also we will have all the data of every deal, its public notices & objections taken & even the replies given to those objections! So no one can say I have sent my objection or reply by registrar post & things like that! Also every NA permission given by the authorities must be uploaded on one single portal so all concerned will know the status of any land development! This will surely help in making people aware about illegal developments & keep away from the same!

Then follows the governance of the local bodies like PMC/PCMC & now the famous or infamous PMRDA! We do have the city’s DP i.e. development plan well whatever is in alive position as which DP is alive & which isn’t even gods can’t tell. But whenever it will then put it on web & don’t ask any architect or developer to come to local body for very basic things like zoning & don’t demand it too! But situation is even if the DP is one web site then it doesn’t matches with actual site conditions & again everything comes to square one that’s dependency on human interface! Then the development control rules needs to be crystal clear & on web for most cases if not every. Whatever governing staff is there has to be used for monitoring the development & not for sanctioning or authorizing the same but what’s happening today is most of the staff is busy in giving sanctions & things like plinth checking or completion or plan passing because each case is different such pathetic is our digitalization process! When you expect the outcome as online sanction then all the rules & regulations along with supporting things like a plan matching to site condition has to be in place. Even after this there will be some discrepancy but then it will be exceptional case not every case will follow the manual track the way it’s happening today!

The result is delay in getting every single permission related to real estate. And then we don’t know how to plan the growth as there is no data! Can someone tell how many flats have been sanctioned in one calendar year & of what size & how many in the same year got completed & become ready for occupation? This data will help us for many fronts right from property tax too water demand of the city or even to know the future electric load demand, so many such things which presently we have to just depend on guess work is a fact. A simple example is if the completion certificate is directly related to taxation department then all the developer has to do is submit a form at the time of applying completion certificate with names & other details of the flat holders he has sold the same flats to & then tax department can directly take this data from server & start generating bills from the day completion certificate is issued. But what happens today is even to get the name of the flat holders on the property tax the developer if he is responsible to chase the tax guys or poor flat holders have to face that battle after getting possession! And in all this process what about the loss of the tax during the period lapsed, well who cares!

Even the department like MSEDCL formerly MSEB competes all above Govt departments for just propagating on e-governance as there is no basic load sanction process clearly defined anywhere & if it is then no one is following the same is a fact! Firstly they don’t have any information about city growth so I really wonder how they plan their infrastructure development & result is they don’t plan! As any new project comes up after sanction from local body that plan goes to local MSEDCL office which don’t have any framed sanction process so whatever advantages or disadvantages of human interface are there all comes in picture! Even if the link their server with PMC or PCMC’s server & these bodies update their record of residential as well commercial development then a life will be lot easier for MSEDCL as well developers! Right from how many electric meters are going to be needed too how much load demand is going to come, all these things they will know in advance & brace themselves accordingly! A basic thing like change of name on electric meters after resale of the flat is such a headache due to human interface, ask any flat holder who has gone through that grind! But then whose job is it to make these simple processes via M governance, is the million dollars oops rupees question!

Then the real estate itself lacks or lacks deliberately is proper term, the transparency of digital genre! Ask how many builders put all the legal or permissions related information about their projects on their respective web sites? Providing just beautiful images of projects & amenities don’t end your responsibility towards clients! I always feel transparency is action & not mere words! Let’s remember like we expect service & transparency from Govt agencies same way we too are service providers to our clients! Here it’s high time for real estate buyers to get aware about their rights & demand proper service as well information from the developer as it’s easy to blame some department or profession but what we do for our own rights is equally important! Unless the builders themselves don’t start giving every single information about sanctions of the projects to their customers online, they don’t have any moral right to blame any Govt body for lagging on M or E-Governance, whatever you call it!

Hon PM we can make entire country Wi Fi with network of optical fiber cables & we can give every citizen a 4G cell phone with the service at cheapest rate so everyone can afford it but what about the people’s attitude who are supposed to store all this data & maintain it to make use of the same for making common man’s life easier & all your efforts? As you might be thinking M Governance is Mobile Governance but for most of the bureaucracy or even people in real estate in our country M Governance means Man Governance & which M follows Man Governance even a school going kid can tell! Irony is, name of the Father of our beloved Country also starts with M & is on every currency we have today; so that’s the truth you have to understand & then take the steps to your vision! 

As being digital doesn’t mean just having 4 G service on my cell phone but being digital means a human interface free  life for my daily needs, may it be getting sanction of a project or transfer of my flats electric meter on my name! Till then 4G will be only for sharing jokes on whatsapp & make fun, that’s all! You are concerned about E crimes like theft from bank accounts but I am more concerned about waste of our energy in the process as any service like mobile service is a power & if not used properly any power is a curse making the society at large pay for it & for that every single citizen of this country should understand the power of M Governance there only lays the future of Digital India!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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