The significance of high-rises in the city is associated with population density, a significant component of urban development. The by-laws of Islamabad used to discourage the construction of high-rises in the city; however, the demerits of avoiding high-rises in Islamabad have been observed in the form of traffic congestion, increased travelling times, and an increase in the number of cars in Islamabad. Hence, the CDA administration has allowed the construction of high-rises in Islamabad.
Despite the realisation of the need for high-rises, the sludge (the friction or the steps involved) gaining) gaining the construction permit for high-rises from Capital Development Authority (CDA) is tiring and time-consuming that a developer avoids investing in high-rises. Graana.com from the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) findings Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) sheds light upon the time duration for gaining the permit.
- From the fieldwork, it has been found that it takes almost 52 months to gain a permit to construct a high-rise in Islamabad. This makes 4 years and three months.
- Agency Time: The time consumed by a department involved in the documentation and approval of a particular activity. It came out to be 41.2 months which is more than three years.
- Overhead Time: It is the time lost by a developer per day in the whole process of gaining approval. The accumulated time came out to be 13.9 months that a developer wastes in gaining approvals.
- Opportunity Cost: This refers to the income earned if the time consumed in this activity is put to an alternative use. The cost came out to be around Rs1.6mn for a single project.
- It also came to the forefront that gaining NoCs from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes the most extended processing times, which can be easily avoided. Both the agencies take nine months each for giving approvals to the high-rises.
- Moreover, for expediting the whole process, the introduction of the technology is the foremost thing that can reduce the timelines and promote ease of doing business in the country.
- The stress level came out to be 4.2 out of 5.
What can be improved
CAA and its Procedures
As mentioned earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) can already specify the height limits in the various zones or areas in collaboration with the various civic authorities of the cities. In this manner, the developer can cut the overhead time, which can help to serve the cause, and a close liaison can be established between the two. For example, 270 days are consumed in gaining approvals from the CAA, and the stress level for this procedure is 3 out of 5.
Procedures of EPA
Similarly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)can also remove various frictions from its procedures and convey its requirements to CDA. Again, a recommendation of stationing a representative of EPA in the CDA also came under consideration since most of the friction occurs and the time is consumed in the to and fro movement from one department to another. For instance, it took 422.6 days to obtain No Objection Certificates (NOC) from the EPA. The cost incurred during the whole process came out to be Rs16,800.
Similarly, an important aspect missing from this whole picture is that the digitisation of various procedures is missing from the systems. For instance, Applications for NOCs can be made available online, and the option of digital payments can be made online. Often the departments are involved in the duplicative paperwork, which unnecessarily increases the time for getting approvals which can easily be eradicated by bringing in the technology.
Elimination of Paperwork
Different documentation procedures can be eliminated while visiting various departments to gain NOCs, such as providing stamp papers and affidavits in multiple departments. Similarly, a lot of paper can be eliminated if the portals of various departments can be digitised and the option of online submission is provided to the investors and developers.