Saturday, March 27, 2021

100 Days of UDCR & Real Estate!



“The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help”... Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989 and became a highly influential voice of modern conservatism. Well, as we know before joining politics Reagan was actor in Hollywood & was Union Leader also & no wonder it’s in USA the president himself can say such word about a system which he heads! And how perfectly every time I start something to share about real estate such witty & wise words helps me to open the topic as one look at our policies about real estate (I mean most of them) & you get more afraid with the new policy than welcoming it, such is the system we call govt & makes these policies which it thinks is to help the people (read as businessmen) at large!

And especially when the business is real estate then the above words of Mr Reagan fits so perfectly as the more  Mai Baap Govt tries to make the policies business friendly (govt loves this term) the more chaos (read as havoc) it creates! And then when the govt is thinking at large i.e. for entire State’s real estate’s ease then needless to say the mess is far bigger as even the God can’t make all the people happy at once but then the govt always thinks its mightier or greater than the god, isn’t it! And the latest happiness or ease of doing initiative for the real estate by the govt was none other than UDCR i.e. Unified Development Control Rules i.e. same rules for building buildings for entire State (* i.e. conditions apply, which here is, not for Mumbai region & our dear PMRDA which again is a joke but about that sometime next)! Its nearly 100 days complete now, the UDCR has been announced with Loud Speakers, Band-Baja, that how it will resolve all the problems of real estate (whom are you fooling!) & stream line the sanction process as the major enemy of entire real estate’s plan passing process was ambiguity on many fronts like TDR, Side Margins (distance needed to be kept between building & the plot boundaries), FSI, Height, Parking norms & many such but all these has been addressed & there will be no confusion, was stated by the govt! Real estate (read as fools) as usual welcomed UDCR with open arms & with acquired smiles on these happy faces & waited for trouble free (and fast) sanction process but even after three months of announcement of UDCR the confusion prevails (what else expected) as before UDCR its discretion or local body ( some call it as monopoly) but now the problem is rules are made by the govt i.e. State govt i.e. Urban Development Dept & the implementation has been put on the local bodies i.e. Municipal Corporations, Nagar Parishads, Collectorates, Town Planning Zone as well regional offices & all such establishments (I am not sure what’s fate of projects which comes under jurisdiction of Cantonments i.e. Defence establishments)! Let’s focus on our two temples i.e. PMC & PCMC (as PMRDA has been kept out of UDCR at least until now, don't ask why) for the implementation of UDCR as first & most important issue about implementation is the power centre which till now was within these two organizations for anything related to the DC rules as they has been drafted (created) by the respective local body i.e. PMC or PCMC! But now the UDCR has been drafted (and created) by the State Govt itself i.e. UD dept,  so for anything related to discretionary powers here, local bodies are like tooth-less & claw-lees tiger which nobody like to become one, especially when you have enjoyed the power of those teeth & claws! At the same time on other hand it’s very convenient also to dodge the unwanted issues for e.g. premium reduction or TDR utilization or Parking policy type sensitive things.

I can understand the agony at the local body level, especially GB i.e. elected members who thinks they are the city & its god too (and they are right in a way) as its the GB along with its finance arm like Sthayi Samiti i.e. Standing Committee & planning arm like Shahar Sudharana i.e. City Improvement committee used to hold all the cards about any city, its development, infrastructure & rules also! Its due to this power Jalgaon Nagar Parishad sanctioned & build a seventeen story building some thirty years back when in Pune there was permission for only five storied buildings! And keeping all due respect for good people in the system, its exactly these powers which made every local body making their own rules for building control & used for the benefit of individuals more than collectively for the city is a fact. If on one side it was necessary to have the local bodies total have control on the development as they know the pulse of the city or town most is also a fact. And then real estate is a business or profession directly related to the local conditions of a city or town or region as you can’t take land from one city to another city just because it has better living condition. One has to plan the homes & allied industries or say daily wages earning factors keeping in tune with the local conditions of a city or town & that’s what makes drafting controlling rules for real estate very tricky job! At the same time it gives immense power to the controlling authority as when you call real estate then it’s not just homes we are talking about as we can’t build homes in a location where there is no water, no roads, no power supply, jobs, no means of entertainment, no industries or no communication in place & even if we build the best of the buildings at such places no one will come & live in such homes even we offer these homes free, leave apart buying them!

This is where the UDCR makes difference as speaking up personally I am of opinion the functioning of the development control rules should be like our Judicial System i.e. there is Supreme Court for any doubts about the rules framed but there is High Court also for deciding things which are not getting clear at District Court’s level so every now & then a person should not have to go to top level for clarification of smallest of the things. One more thing with real estate & DC rules is missing (read as needed)  that is  the way Supreme Court or the High Court acts on their own whenever they feel some injustice is happening around & on their own takes cognizance of such matter & act on it; same way the urban planning authorities also must act (one more Mungerilal dream)  as if you are behind implementing UDCR then can’t you see the confusion going on hundreds of fronts on real estate depending on the respective cities & its issues, is what I will ask to Mai Baap Govt! As right from slum rehabilitation rules to infamous TDR on 6m  wide roads to Metro corridor premiums to loading system of TDR vs. Paid FSI row among the local bodies & yes about illegal constructions about which everyone is suddenly silent!

Speaking about TDR utilization, all I know is revenue is an important aspect & cities as well towns if we need to make self sufficient then they must have their own avenues of revenue for which infrastructure is very important aspect & for that land acquisition plays vital role! It’s not about TDR or paid FSI as the builder should have his or her own liberty for same but that must not harm the entire infra aspect of the city. At the same time civic bodies are known to play soft when it’s hitting hard to masses for e.g. forceful road widening or reservation land acquisition & becomes very hard in implementing policies on business fraternity (read as builders), this also should be checked! Why we have to pay in cash or in form of TDR for land acquisition why it isn’t in the form of land bank or constructed form with local body can’t be exchanged for reservation lands, which can be way easier & cheaper option, high time to put our heads on such matters & act, this also is job of the Mai Baap Govt which is keen of UDCR philosophy!

In the end, just the way we look at the religion, i.e. it’s not which god you bows to, in the temple or masjid or church but it’s what you want by praying the god is important; same way UDCR or local DC rules, apply anything but see that the cities don’t get turned in to the slums, is all I will appeal to the policy makers, till then real estate is anyway running on “Ram Bharose” i.e. by God’s Grace, in English!


Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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