It looks like the only benefactor of the online building permit system of the Kochi Corporation is the Pune-based private company that is implementing the system and reaping windfall profits.
With only about 6,000 people applying through the system even after four years of its implementation, the online building permit system is becoming a major burden for the cash-strapped Corporation. Moreover, the Corporation has not made any effort to train its people in implementing the system. So it has to pay lakhs of rupees to the private agency to extend the annual maintenance contract (AMC) to keep the system running.
This year, `11 lakh was allocated to extend the AMC for two more years, starting from 2012 November to 2014 November. The expense to run the scheme from 2012 to 13 was `4,90,000. From 2013 to 14, with 5 per cent year-on-year increment, the expense is expected to come to around `5,14,000 for the Corporation. The agenda for approval of the amount in the July Council meeting of the Corporation was set aside for more discussion. A few weeks ago, another agenda regarding the matter came up before the Council meeting for approval. The finance Committee of the Corporation informed the Council that they had negotiated with the private agency to drop the annual 5 per cent increment and that the Corporation would have to pay only the previous year’s AMC amount plus sales tax in the agenda. But as the Council meeting ended in a mayhem with protests from the Opposition, the agenda was not discussed.
Last year, only 4,607 people applied online for building tax permit in Kochi. But to sustain the online system, the Corporation had to spend `15 lakh till now.
The Corporation Secretary said he had brought to the notice of the authorities the need to take immediate steps to train officers of the Corporation to implement the online permit system.