Mumbai: Now self-certified audit for SRA buildings

The SRA was charging Rs 10 per sq feet from builders, the fees have been waived off too and builders can now get the buildings audited on their own.

MUMBAI: In yet another benefit for builders of Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) projects, the authority has waived off the mandatory structural audit for buildings done by the SRA for slum rehabilitation buildings. Builders can now submit self-certified structural audit certificates from registered structural engineers for the buildings.

The SRA was charging Rs 10 per sq feet from builders, the fees have been waived off too and builders can now get the buildings audited on their own.

According to SRA officials, builders get a structural audit done for their buildings when the apply for an Occupation Certificate (OC). This structural audit is done by the SRA. But buildings that house slum dwellers, which are the rehabilitation component of the SRA projects have a DLP of four years where builders have to maintain the building for four years. After the DLP ends, builders have to once again carry out a structural audit of the building through the SRA. Only after they get a structural audit done through the SRA, do they get back their Bank Guarantee (BG) that SRA keeps to ensure that builders maintain the rehabilitation buildings at least for four years.

“We have only ended the dual structural audit and charging system. The first audit at the time of applying for the OC will be done as per the existing system by SRA engineers and empanelled auditors. But this same procedure was being repeated after four years at the end of the DLP and builders had to once again pay Rs 10 per sq ft. Given the current cash crunch being faced by builders, this second audit fee has been waived off and builders can get a structural audit done by their own auditors,” SRA CEO Deepak Kapoor said.

"At the time of giving the OC, our SRA engineers will continue to do a thorough structural audit of rehabilitation buildings. The waiver is only for the second audit to be done at the time when the DLP ends not before that," Kapoor said.

However according to a circular issued by Kapoor, the second audit will have to be carried out by a structural engineer with a minimum experience of five years for the rehabilitation building. “If there is any glitch in the audit, then the SRA will write to the authorities to cancel the licensee of the particular structural auditor. This has been done to waive off dual payment and also fast track SRA projects,” the official said. “So builders wont have to pay Rs 10 per sq ft twice since they already do it at the time of applying for OC and get an audit done,” the official added. Officials said that the SRA keeps 20% of the project cost as Bank Guarantee from builders.

Officials said that the dual payment in terms of audit fees can run into lakhs and builders who are now facing a liquidity crunch cant afford the payment. This leads to delays in applying for an OC, and slum dwellers are forced to stay on rent or in transit camps.

On Tuesday, in a bid to bail out cash strapped builders whose SRA projects stuck mid-way due to lack of funds leaving hundreds of slum dwellers in transit camp, the state government will soon roll out a ‘lien’ scheme. Under this scheme, builders who don’t have money to pay premiums and development charges can line flats from their sale components and go ahead with construction. Once the buildings are ready, the builders can sell the flats and pay their dues. If they fail to do so, then the SRA will auction the flats and recover the dues. The plan was floated at a meeting held by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday, where he reviewed the functioning of the housing department. Housing minister Jitendra Awhad and Kapoor too were present.

In 2019, sale of residential sector was 5% less than 2018. The number of homes sold in 2019 in MMR fell to 60,943 units compared to 63,893 units in 2018, according to a report released by real estate consultants Knight Frank India.

Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad said that this was an attempt to infuse some liquidity and fast track projects. “Our priority is to fast track SRA projects. We want to ensure that slum dwellers who are living in transit camps or on rent get their own homes. We are working on various plans and options including deferred payment that will help ease the pressure on developers who are facing a liquidity crunch right now,” Awhad told Mumbai Mirror.

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