SMC Online!

Is it really that swift as we believe it to be…

Credit goes to Dr GN Qasba Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Council (SMC) for implementing reforms in working pattern of SMC service providing. The ‘central Citizen Facilitation centre for Obtaining Municipal Services’ at SMC headquarters with its modern look is appreciable. Introductions of online services in many sections of the civic body will surely ease out the cumbersome procedural delay in municipal service providing. And our best wishes will always be with handsome, articulate and dedicated commissioner of SMC. However, Dr. Kasba and his ambitious online project seem to have annoyed many at SMC and his ambitious project is facing rough and bumpy track of sabotage. Out of many online services initiated by SMC, computerized procedure for obtaining building permissions is the most outstanding. It has been simplified to the extent that applicants would get text updates regarding progress of their building permission through mobile phone and internet with the press of a button. But in practice all is not well, not because of any failure or shortfalls in the online system itself but due to rivalry and bickering within the human resource pool in SMC.
Many officials and officers inside SMC are either annoyed with the introduction of this system for the reasons best known to them or are not well versed with it and its long term positive impact on the efficiency of working of SMC. If such rouge elements within SMC are not tamed well in time the whole concept of computerization and single window system will go haywire. 
 With high hopes of efficiency and hassle free service I applied for permission to construct my dream house after personally obtaining all the no objection certificates (NOC) from the concerned departments. Mine was a typical story and a unique case, because my application got entangled between the earlier webbed ‘Building Constructions Controlling Authority’ (BOCA) and the existing simplified online procedure. My NOC hunt almost made a wreck out of me and at one point of time I thought of proceeding ahead with construction without seeking any permission from SMC and offer myself for compounding my offence by paying a reasonable amount as fine. Anyway, I continued with my operation B.P (Building permission) and on the fateful day of 2nd August 2012 I submitted my fate to the attractive looking citizen facilitation centre of SMC. Everything was moving on smoothly to the best wishes of Dr.Qasba and my hope until 26th of September when a demand note was issued for remittance of requisite fees. During this period all my earlier NOCs were resubmitted to the authorities concerned, rather an addition was made by submitting to SDA (Srinagar Development Authority) for verifying land use status.  After submission of the requisite amount as fees I was assured permission will be delivered just in couple of days. Interestingly, once during my humble interaction with the system in-charge of the prestigious online system he asked about the efficiency of the online system and its delivery mechanism. In the heart of hearts the famous Kashmiri saying, “Nuesh gaie suie yues Ghare watie” struck my mind but etiquettes demanded a humble affirmative answer—Excellent. And with this word ‘excellent’ my ordeal began and I started cursing my fate and the decision to apply for a legal and genuine permission for construction. Since 27th of September when I got the last text message from SMC I might have visited SMC facilitation centre umpteenth times but all in vain, as till today leave alone the permission order I could not even get a satisfactory answer from the much hyped facilitation centre. I am passed on from one counter to another then from one officer to another like a buck.
I had always been an optimist and will never lose hope even in most difficult times but my apprehensions about  working of online building permission system at SMC get stronger with every visit to SMC headquarter. However, my best wishes are with Dr. Qasba and I hope he will sail out of this mess with ease.