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Online portal launched for construction NOC around protected monuments

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma on Tuesday rolled out an online portal to get a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) for construction related activities in the vicinity of protected monuments, in an attempt to streamline approval procedure.

“It (portal) will greatly add to the convenience of the people since they no longer need to run to local offices to get NOC for their property which is nearby monuments,” Sharma said here at the launch function.

Applicants can now apply for NOC online and they will be provided a unique registration id with which they can check the status of their applications from time to time.

The online system, an initiative of the National Monument Authority, will automatically inform the applicant about the permissible height and other restrictions regarding the proposed construction activity.

The minister said the initiative would also help solve the problem of encroachments around the historic monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The mobile app would be launched shortly which would provide even greater convenience, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Culture Secretary NK Sinha said the unique initiative would reduce the dependency of the people on administration. “This is a people’s portal and its success will depend on the people’s participation,” he added.

The portal — NOC online application portal and processing system (NOAPS) — has utilized the technology and expertise of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) which are in the process of mapping all 3,886 ASI protected monuments.

The portal, which has been designed by National Informatics Centre (NIC), is available on www.nmanoc.nic.in.

(With inputs from IANS)

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On World Tourism Day, Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma flags off Delhi sightseeing tour for challenged kids

Thirty-five Divyang students from Class 2nd to 6th of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya School for Divyang Children, Minto Road, New Delhi participated in the tour

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Tourists. Flickr
September 27, 2016: Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma flagged off a sightseeing tour of monuments and heritage places of Delhi for Divyang (challenged) children on the occasion of World Tourism Day here today.
Thirty-five Divyang students from Class 2nd to 6th of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya School for Divyang Children, Minto Road, New Delhi participated in the tour.

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The theme for 2016 World Tourism Day is: Tourism for All !! – “Promoting Universal Accessibility”

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Sharma said, “Accessible tourism for all is about the creation of environments that can cater for the needs of all of us, whether we are traveling or staying at home. May that be due to a disability, even temporary, families with small children, or the ageing population, at some point in our lives, sooner or later, we all benefit of universal accessibility in tourism.” NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India. 
World Tourism Day, Flickr
World Tourism Day, Flickr

Go to NewsGram for news related to political current issues. Tourism Secretary Vinod Zutshi said, “On this year’s World Tourism Day, help us spread the word of both the importance and immense benefits universal accessibility has and can bring to society at large.”

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Arun Srivastava, Regional Director (Northern India), Ministry of Tourism, said, “This unique opportunity will provide an opportunity to these Divyang students to take a glimpse of important monuments and heritage of Delhi. This effort is also to create awareness among all involved in the tourism industry in the country to remove all the barriers and provide accessible tourism opportunities to all. This is one of the latest news from India. (IANS)

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Gotthard Base Tunnel: Switzerland completes the construction of the world’s largest tunnel in 17 Years

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Swiss Federal President Johann Schneider-Ammann, right, speaks with French President Francois Hollande, left, on the opening day of the Gotthard rail tunnel, the longest tunnel in the world, at the fairground Rynaecht at the northern portal in Erstfeld, S. Image source: Reuters
  • It took 17 years for the Swiss tunnelers to complete World’s largest tunnel
  • It is called Gotthard Base Tunnel, officially opened on June 1, 2016
  • Celebrations started on Wednesday June 1, 2016
  • The rail will be open for travelers this year, in December 2016

In this day and age everyone wants fast. Faster internet connection, faster customer service, faster results. In 1947 Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner was dreaming about faster transportation. Switzerland’s Gotthard base tunnel is a staggering 35.4 miles long, and a mile and a half under the Gotthard mountain range. This tunnel stretches from Erstfeld and Bodio. The tunnel cuts commute time from Zurich to Milan by 45 minutes; that is fast.

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Before opening the tunnel as a means of public transportation, the Swiss wanted to take the time to commemorate and celebrate such an amazing feat. The tunnel’s website says that the tunnel presents to the world, “Swiss values such as innovation, precision and reliability.” The celebration was far from just being a combination of Swiss values. Modern dances accompanied the opening of the tunnel, and drew much of the attention.

Swiss police officers stand beside of mock gates of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel inside the event hall for the upcoming opening ceremony near the town of Erstfeld, Switzerland May 31, 2016. Image source: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
Swiss police officers stand beside of mock gates of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel inside the event hall for the upcoming opening ceremony near the town of Erstfeld, Switzerland May 31, 2016. Image source: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

One dance number featured dancers who wore orange construction suits an boots. They danced on and near a flatcar. Another dance featured an angelic like creatures. The dancers danced in what appeared to be white briefs. One dancer suck out wearing wings and an oversized head. One other dance number spectators watched the dancers move about the tunnel wearing suits that were said to be, “a cross between a pom-pom and a hay bale.” These dance numbers all pay tribute to the Gotthard mountain range, and the significance it holds in Swiss society.

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Dancers and spectators were the majority of people who attended the opening of the tunnel. The inauguration of this milestone also drew attention from the leaders of the EU; German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The opening also featured the traditional playing of alphorns. With this, the tunnel was blessed and the tunnel’s theme song was played.

The festivities do not stop there. This weekend a festival is planned to occur on both sides of the tunnel. There will also be a train commuting people through the tunnel from one end to the other.

This $12 billion monstrosity of a tunnel was completed on time, and Gruner’s dream came true. After 17 years of construction, 9 deaths, and $1,300 of taxes added to each person, this marvel of a tunnel has been opened. In December, the rail will be open for travelers.

Abigail Andrea is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: @abby_kono

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How Real Estate Regulatory Bill can help ailing Real Estate sector

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Real Estate
Photo: http://www.businessinsider.in

Construction and Real Estate sectors have a bad name today, due to many unethical builders, brokers, extortionists, and land mafia, who have controlled the sector for a long time now.

NewsGram had previously covered one such instance of alleged extortion and unnecessary delay in handing over the flats to the customers in Mumbai by Runwal Greens.

The Real Estate Regulatory Bill, which has been pending for a long time, if passed, may go a long way in tackling various issues that ails this sector. Here is an article by Anil Pharande, Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm in Western Pune, explaining why the Bill is very crucial for cleaning up the Real Estate sector.

The Real Estate Regulatory Bill has been waiting for a long time to be passed as a law. Though several new recommendations by various bodies were incorporated into the draft Bill and approved by the cabinet, it has still not been passed as an enforceable law by the Parliament. It is now high time that this happens – for several reasons.

The changes which have been made in the original draft over time are quite progressive. For instance, a real estate developer must keep a minimum balance of 50% of the funds collected for his project in an escrow account. Before the Real Estate Regulatory Bill was drafted, the concept of creating an escrow account for a real estate project in which to hold funds for a project did not exist at all. In the absence of such a regulation, builders are at liberty to siphon off funds collected for their projects and use them to purchase more land or in the construction of other projects.

The Real Estate Regulatory Bill will make it compulsory for builders to ensure that at least 50% of such funds will remain reserved solely for the development of the project for which they were collected from buyers. To ensure that this actually happens, they will have to pay these funds into an escrow account within 15 days. While this is definitely a rule which will protect the interests of property buyers to some extent, it still means that builders can use half of the funds collected from buyers for other purposes.

This gives rise to a pertinent question – why would they want to do that? Isn’t it in the builder’s own interest to complete a project on time? Unfortunately, many developers don’t look at it that way at all. The reason why they divert funds from ongoing projects is so that they can purchase land to build land banks, which allows them to showcase more projects on their balance sheets. Doing so makes allows them to raise more capital from banks or private equity funds, and also to give an inflated image of the size of their business.

There have been several other changes to the draft Real Estate Regulatory Bill, as well – each giving a clear message that the era in which developers could do whatever they want is going to be history once it is implemented. Not least among these important changes is that developers will have to register all projects which they are constructing within 3 months once the Bill becomes a law. If they fail to do so, they will be penalized to the tune of 10% of the overall project cost, and will have to bear an additional penalty of 10% and even face a prison term for any further delay to register their project.

The Real Estate regulatory Bill will also bring an end to developers’ freedom to make changes in the original plans or structural designs of their projects once they have been registered. They will only be able to make any changes if they are able to get the signed approval of at least 2/3rds of those who have invested into the project. Projects which do not have completion certificates issued as yet are now also included, meaning that an even bigger segment of buyers will benefit from the protection of their interests.

The current version of the Real Estate Regulatory Bill also has another noteworthy amendment in the fact that it now includes commercial office projects. In other words, investors who have plugged their funds into commercial office properties will also be protected by the Bill. Of course, the fact is that 85% of the Indian real estate market consists of the residential sector. However, this amendment is important because it will help the sector become more transparent in every respect, and not just in some segments. Real estate brokers and agents are now also included in the latest draft of the Bill, which means that will also be liable for legal action if they engage in any practices which are not in line with the new law.

Finally, the latest draft of the Real Estate Regulatory Bill permits customers with grievances to move the consumer courts, and does not position itself as their only legal recourse.

With all these positive amendments now in place, the Real Estate regulatory Bill is indeed a powerful means to make the chronically opaque Indian real estate sector more transparent. Once it becomes a law, people will feel more confident in investing into real estate, and this will result in the revival which everyone has been waiting for. This confidence will take time to become evident, but it will definitely come – and when it does, we will see massive changes on the ground.

Also Read: Runwal Greens: Luxury builders or unethical extortionists?