Plan your power cuts this summer!

Power CutHow many times does the power cut happen just when you are planning to do some important work? Earlier, all one could do was wish that someone would have given prior information before the power cut so that one could plan accordingly.

Noida Power Company Limited (NPCL) is making this wish come true for Noida residents who have now almost resigned to the erratic and long power cuts in the city. For making the situation better, NPCL has decided to send SMS alerts before every power cut. The SMS will be sent out irrespective of any power failure reason. So, whether the power is cut due to distribution transformer breakdown, supply shortage, maintenance work or fault in transmission wires SMS will be sent out compulsorily.

NPCL holding franchise for distributing power in Noida and Greater Noida will now send text messages before every power cut. However, the text messages will not be sent directly to the residents. The Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) officials of various sectors in Noida region will receive the messages, who will then forward it to the residents.

RWA officials of different sectors had demanded this facility of prior information to be given before power cuts due to frequent power cuts and rising temperature. Some of the common problems that the RWAs were facing due to power cuts was shortage of water since one cannot run water pumps with inverter. If one knows in advance that there will be a power cut of 4 hours in the peak morning hours, one can be prepared and fill in all the required water tanks in the evening so that there is no problem in the morning. Secondly, for the apartments that use generators with diesel for providing 24*7 back-up power facility to residents, can ensure that there is enough diesel in stock for running the generator continuously. Such small measures can really give comfort to the residents.

So, from now on Noida residents can plan their power cuts. Students can finish their homework and studies before the light goes out. Ladies can complete their cooking and housework before the power cut. People carrying official work home can spend extra hours in office based on the power cut schedule. When the residents know there is going to be a power cut in advance, everyone can finish their priority work in advance and no one has to make do with slow running fan of an inverter.

Now enjoy your power cuts by going to an AC mall or plan your day in office based on the power cuts because this summer NPCL just reduced your power cut heartburn by at least 30% by sending the text messages with power cut information in advance.

This initiative is a very good initiative taken up by the Noida RWA. The same initiative should be replicated in other cities as well.

Source: Times of India

How can the RWAs stop the increasing commercial establishments in residential areas?

stopQuite often it is noticed that there is burgeoning growth of commercial establishments in residential areas. More commercial establishments in a residential area results in residents getting disturbed day and night due to the commercial activities and hustle bustle happening in that area. How are the area RWAs across the country tackling with this issue?

Panduranganagar RWA has been complaining to BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) for a very long time about the growth of commercial establishments in residential areas. However, BBMP chose to turn a blind eye towards this issue and the existence of about 34 commercial establishments in residential areas operating without trade licenses.

Even though the RWA has now moved to the high court, BBMP officials have failed to initiate action against the illegal establishments. Panduranganagar had complained several times to cognisance of the matter, the residents worked on their own making use of RTI and found that as many as 34 commercial establishments in their locality were functioning without trade licences.

The layout was initially formed by the Bank Officers Housing Cooperative Society in BTM Layout limits after approval by the town planning authority. In 2004, the BDA declared the layout as residential in nature. To promote and preserve the beauty, decorum and infrastructure of the layout, activities such as construction of unauthorized multistoried flats or apartments and commercial buildings was prohibited.

In 2015, the layout was also classified as Residential (Mixed) as per the revised master plan. Yet, the area has been witnessing burgeoning commercial activities with several establishments including IT companies, Ayurveda clinics, fitness centres, hotels and schools popping up within the jurisdiction of the layout.

A couple of years ago, a commercial establishment running as a marriage hall in the area was shut down after residents complained to BBMP. But the same building has now been converted into a lodge with bar attached!

The RWA has been complaining for past 4 years but the BBMP had been paying no heed to their woes. Panduranganagar RWA has set an example for all other RWAs by taking the right decision to move to the high court. Other RWAs need to buckle up and start following their example.

Source: Bangalore Mirror

Should approval from area RWA become mandatory for running a PG?

pgIs an illegal PG (paying guest accommodation) being run in your neighbourhood? How many times do you get disturbed with the boisterous crowd staying in the PG and making a ruckus in your neighbourhood?

Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has decided to regulate the entire practice of running illegal PGs in the city. In fact, GMADA has made it mandatory for the PG owner to obtain a NOC (no-objection certificate) from the area RWA (Resident Welfare Association).

Moreover, in case of absence of any registered RWA in a particular area, NOC needs to be obtained from the immediate neighbours.

Currently, there are about 600 PG accommodations being run in Mohali. Out of 600 PG accommodations, only 7 PG accommodations have been registered. The 7 registered accommodations would also have to get their registrations renewed.

Moreover, as per the new notification, it is mandatory to take permission from GMADA to set up a PG in a particular area. In addition, people planning to commence a PG will need to pay Rs. 10,000 as a processing fee to acquire a 3-year licence to run a PG. As a result, the permission will have to be renewed in every 3 years. A list of authorised applicants will be put up on GMADA’s website, and only these will be allowed to operate PGs.

The owner should be using a part of the PG accommodation and the area of the house cannot be less than 7.5 marla if it is to be used as a PG accommodation. Unauthorized construction should not take place after completion certificate and the residential accommodation needs to be sanctioned as per building bye laws.

The PG owners will have to furnish a list of those living in the PG along with the tariff plan. Officials from GMADA can conduct inspections anytime at the accommodation.

Furthermore, as per the amended policy, even the guardians or parents will be held accountable for any unruly behaviour of the PG occupants.

The notification warns the occupants against indulging in any disorderly activities leading to breach of peace, disruptions in the civil and social atmosphere, or affecting the rights of the other residents of the locality, failing which police action can be initiated and the registration of the PG can also be cancelled.

Is this a good trend to be followed in all major cities in India?

Source: Hindustan Times 

Tool #1: Notify all residents in one go via ApnaComplex Notice Board

Notice BoardApnaComplex Notice Board is used for communicating short-lived, one-way messages. You can post notices online and reach all the residents in one go. All notices will be emailed to the members (based on the notification settings of the user).

Scenario when to use Notice Board:

a)Let the residents know about a clothes exhibition being held on the weekend

b)Inform only the residents of your complex about a house now available for rent

c)Notify residents about swimming pool/water tank cleaning

Advantages of using Notice Board:

•All notices will be visible on the online Notice Board till the expiry date of the notice. You can set the expiry date from 1 day to 1 month.

•Flash notices can be posted, which will be shown in a popup dialog that users cannot ignore.

•Documents can be attached to notices.

•Replies sent to this message will be sent out only to the poster of the message.

•Reports like expense statements can be published on the notice board.

Administrator Rights for Notice Board:

•Publish Special Notices that will reach all members of the community – including members who have not yet joined online. This enables one way communication from the association to all members on key events.

•The Special Notices message will be sent out all people even if they have opted out of daily/weekly digest feature. This can be used in case of highly important or emergency communication.

• Post notices which are visible only to Owners, or only to Committee members.

• Approve all notices before they are published to every one (configurable setting).

• Change the expiry date and the access level at the time of approving.

• Extend date of expired notices and also delete all notices.

How to use Notice Board after logging in ApnaComplex?

Step 1: After logging in click on Forums

Step 2: Below Forums click on Notice Board

Step 3: Click on post new notice

Alternatively, you can also search for notices or see the list of expired notices.

Notice Type

Hope this blog gave you a better idea of when and how to use the notice board. Do comment on this blog if you have any queries. We would try to solve the same for you. Keep checking the blog section for more help articles on ApnaComplex communication tools.

Should maintenance of public parks be handed over to respective area RWAs?

Public ParkIn Delhi, there are quite a few pubic parks where one can get some fresh air and relax in the morning and evening time. However, out of around 6400 parks, most of them are in a sorry state. Recently, the public parks have started being misused for personal use.

Parks in Delhi, which were essentially created to be used by old people for relaxing and children for playing are now being used for marriages and other functions. This not only restricts the general public from using the park facilities but also degrades the park facilities. It has often been noticed that once the functions gets over, tonnes of waste are left behind leaving the public park in an unhygienic condition.

The law does not allow public parks to be used for personal functions such as marriages etc. In 2009, after an NGO had filed a complaint against Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Delhi Development Authority claiming that both were allowing park misuse for personal functions, Delhi High Court had issued strict instructions to both the bodies from allowing any social gathering events in a public park. However, the judgement has been ignored very comfortably and in the peak marriage season, it’s very common to spot marriages etc. being conducted in a public park. No concrete action has been taken as yet to prohibit this practice.

Another major misuse of the public parks is done by people with pets. People with pets use the public park as an execratory ground for their pets. It’s quite a common to see pet owners with their dogs in such parks. Unlike the West, in India, no one is under the compulsion to clean up the mess. As a result, the public park is polluted making it unfit for the local residents and small kids to use the same.

In many areas, parks are not well maintained. It is more of halting place for cattle and stray dogs. In quite a few parks, one can see anti-social elements gambling and drinking in broad daylight obviously making it impossible for a common man to relax and get some fresh air in the public park. All this is a result of utter negligence of the authorities.

The most effective way of ensuring the maintenance of such public parks is increasing greater citizen participation. Handing over the maintenance of public parks to the respective Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of that particular area is an idea that can be mooted upon. Resident welfare associations are active bodies that keep their area/apartments clean for their residents and are always interested in the welfare of the residents. If the responsibility of maintaining the public parks are handed over to respective RWAs, it will be an interesting change to witness in Delhi/NCR wherein the public parks will start being used by the nearby residents for relaxing rather than people with vested interests turning the public park into a marriage community hall.

Source: New Delhi Times 

Habit #6: Effective management committees create an inclusive culture

Inclusive CultureIn this blog post, we are going to emphasize on the sixth habit of effective management committees to create an inclusive culture. Effective management committees believe and create an inclusive culture so that the residents also pitch in for the welfare of the apartment. In our earlier blog post, we talked about Habit 5: How effective management committees implement smart financial control. Read more…

Pointers for the committee members to create an inclusive culture:

Co-opt Members: The present committee members have the option to co-opt or choose additional members for the board. More members in the committee would imply more hands to work for the welfare of the residents. Residents once given a designation and authority as a member of the committee would be more willing to contribute their time and energy for the betterment of the apartment.

Create Sub-Committees: The management committee takes all decisions and executes the same for all functions. However, the work done may become faster if the management committee creates a sub-committee with a small group of people who will be assigned to focus on a particular function such as finance or vendor management. The sub-committee can make recommendations to the management committee and the final decision can be taken by them.

Create Task Forces: Communicating to the residents that the management committee needs help in a certain task is very important. Don’t feel ashamed to ask help from residents. Someone or the other will always be ready to volunteer. Create a task force with residents willing to help and execute your plan. For instance, if the management committee wants to implement waste segregation methods from the next month in the apartment, create a task force who would educate people about the do’s and don’ts and ensure it gets implemented.

Events: An effective management committee always ensures that it conducts events wherein residents and committee members mingle and exchange thoughts. It’s a great platform wherein the committee members can meet residents and let them informally know what all the committee is planning for the welfare of the apartment. Conducting events is a great way to stay connected to the residents.

Create opportunities for residents to bond:   An effective committee will always create a culture that helps residents bond with each other. The committee can create sub-committees, task forces, and conduct events for residents to bond. Using social media is always a great way to connect with residents and the residents to bond with each other. Posting cultural events photos, creating forums for discussions, posting interesting blogs all helps the residents to bond with each other.

A committee cannot be effective until and unless the residents support them. Don’t work in silos! Create an inclusive culture and collaborate with the residents to reach your goals.

Do you think the management committee in your apartment complex creates an inclusive culture by asking help from residents? Do let us know by commenting on our blog. Log onto regularly for the post on next habit of effective management committees.

Habit #5: Effective management committees implement smart financial control

In this blog post, we are going to emphasize on the fifth habit of effective management committees of implementing smart financial control. Smart financial management is the key to success for any management committee. In our earlier blog post, we talked about Habit 4: How effective management committees are highly disciplined. Read more…

Pointers for the committee members to practice smart financial control:

Treasurers need to do more than just signing cheques – In most of the apartments, the role of a treasurer is restricted to signing cheques and issuing receipts. This is not the right practice. The role of a treasurer is a very important one and both the committee and treasurer has to understand that. As a treasurer, ensure you have a budget in place at the start of the financial year. There may be undue pressure on you from other committee members or residents to spend on various new initiatives but do stick to your budget. Always remember it’s easy to spend but more difficult to stick to the pre-decided budget and as a treasurer if you are able to do that, you are certainly doing a good job.

Do not approve ad-hoc expenses – Committee members or residents always come up with new initiatives and every new initiative has an additional cost attached to it. As committee members spend more time with each other, you develop a certain level of friendship and comfort with your co-committee members. The problem arises when you are not able to say “NO” to a co-committee member for an expense, which is out of your budget. As a treasurer, learn to say no to the ad-hoc expenses, which makes a hole in your budget. At times the treasurers need to be ruthless to spend their finances judiciously. For instance, in one of the apartments, one of the committee members suggested a sliding gate, which would have looked great and would have been easier to access, but the treasurer did not approve the budget for the same. Was it a good decision? Yes, because one needs to understand the difference between “feel good things” vs. “necessities”.

Set a strict approval process for payments – As a treasurer, it is both your duty and right to question each and every expense. Keep a strict check on the new expenses being incurred. Set your budget and set a process for slab approvals for fool proofing the system. Create a rule or mechanism for payments approvals, provide the same to the entire committee and ensure it is followed by the whole committee. Do not go easy on the slab approvals and try going around it. Ensure you yourself follow it for making the entire committee follow the same.

Publish monthly reports on budget variance – Show the same enthusiasm to calculate dues as well as expenses. Most of committee treasurers show a lot of enthusiasm while calculating and collecting the dues or maintenance charges from residents. However, when it comes to calculating the expenses or the budget overflow, one loses enthusiasm and the budget variance calculation is always delayed. Ensure budget variance report is published in a timely manner on a monthly basis. Also, publish the report on how much was the overflow every month. This will help you analyse where exactly did you go wrong and will help you and the committee balance it out the next month itself. Otherwise, at the year end audit, one can only realize the mistake of overspending but will have no time to correct it.

Committees and especially treasurers need to understand that the resident welfare cannot be achieved by overspending on “feel good” things instead spend the resident money carefully and judiciously on the necessities and try to achieve small objectives, which are in-sync with your pre-decided budget. This will lead to a higher level of resident satisfaction.

Do you think the management committee in your apartment complex practices smart financial control? Do let us know by commenting on our blog. Log onto regularly for the post on next habit of effective management committees.

Habit #4: Effective management committees are highly disciplined

Committee MeetingIn this blog post, we are going to emphasize on the fourth habit of effective management committees of conducting committee meetings in a disciplined manner. Conducting and attending meetings in a disciplined manner is something an effective management committee cannot avoid. In our earlier blog post, we talked about Habit 3: How effective management committees always take responsibility. Read more…

Pointers for the committee members to conduct meetings in a disciplined manner:

Conduct regular committee meetings – How can the performance of a management committee be judged in a single metric? The only metric through which one judges the performance of a committee is the number of meetings conducted by the committee and the minutes of the meeting published for the residents. Typically, most committees have approximately 52 meetings in a year. Most management committees of a decent size apartment complex meet at least once a week and if they are not following this practice it’s about time to follow it!

Circulate formal meeting minutes to residents – Formal meeting minutes should be circulated to residents in a disciplined manner after every committee meeting for maintaining a high level of transparency with residents. Without circulating the meeting minutes, there will be no pressure built on the committee to perform or act on the agendas in the pre-decided timelines agreed in the meeting. Assign the responsibility of publishing meeting minutes to a particular committee member and ensure it get published for the residents.

Never skip a committee meeting – Attending meetings on a regular basis is a must for all committee members. Ensure that you attend all meetings. In case, your physical presence is not possible in the meeting due to some reason; utilize technology, conduct teleconference or a video conference and stay updated. With one or other person always absent during the meeting, the committee is never able to take a concrete decision.

Ensure meeting action items are closed – Ensure that meeting action items always get closed. Committees discuss several apartment related issues in a meeting, however, make sure someone jots down the action items after every meeting. Once the action items are finalized, empower the rest of the team to ensure that each and every action item mentioned on the list is closed.

If the management committee members ensure that each and very committee meeting is conducted regularly and the action items decided in the meetings are closed in the pre-decided time mentioned in the meeting minutes shared with the residents, it will be more than enough to satisfy the residents about the performance of the management committee.

Does the management committee in your apartment complex conduct regular committee meetings? Do let us know if it worked for you by commenting on our blog. Log onto regularly for the post on next habit of effective management committees.

Habit #2: Highly Effective Management Committees Always Communicate

Effective CommunicationIn this blog post, we are going to emphasize on the second habit of highly effective management committees to always communicate. Communication can break all barriers and this is what effective management committees realize vs. the ineffective ones. We talked about Habit 1: How effective management committees’ work as team in our blog post last week. Read more……

Pointers to keep in mind for the committees for following an effective communication plan:

Do not be secretive about your committee operations: Keeping the residents updated through periodic updates, via newsletters, mails and notices etc. is always a good idea. Larger the community is, more is the need for a solid communication system. Some committees create a committee role especially for drafting notices and keeping the residents of their community updated. Sharing information and communication with residents about your operations for the welfare of the apartment creates a positive image of the committee in the mind of the residents.

Create a formal grievance redressal system: In most apartments, complaints are resolved only when residents start making a huge hue and cry about a particular problem. Don’t let the residents come to you with a grim face about how their complaints have not been resolved. Instead, set a formal process to log and resolve complaints. Use help of technology to address complaints. Essentially, what apartment management committees require is a system with an automatic escalation mechanism. This system sends out an alert to the responsible committee member whenever there is a breach of stipulated time to address the complaint by the service staff or the estate manager.  The automatic escalation mechanism makes the committee members aware whether the complaint has been taken care of or not and reduces one’s dependence solely on the estate manager for the checking the complaint status and increases the satisfaction level of the residents.

Maintain constant communication with residents at the time of crisis: At the time of crisis, in instances such as BESCOM switching off the power, breakdown of the lift, and shortage of water supply keep the residents informed about the problem and constantly communicate with them via SMS/emails etc. There are three advantages that you may derive from this –

a) The residents will stop calling you and you will be able to focus on how to resolve the crisis.

b)The residents will be assured that someone is working on their problem. Residents are not looking for immediate solutions. However, they do need to be ensured time to time that someone is looking at their problem.

c) You may get unexpected help from residents to solve your crisis, for an instance, a resident may have some influential contacts or may know a vendor who can help you solve the crisis.

Share fact-based updates with residents: Larger the complex, the more comments/questions you will be receiving from the residents. Do not try to answer each and every comment/query. This is a very time consuming task and often leads to futile discussions. Collate all comments, queries data and send only fact-based updates to residents collectively. This will ease you from the pain of answering each and every question of the residents and keep the residents satisfied that their answers have been answered with stated facts.

Always remember communication is the key to any and every problem.

Do let us know your views on this. Log onto regularly for the post on the next habit of effective management committees.

Police registration for domestic help should become mandatory?

antiCrimeWith the two brutal murders committed by domestic help in Juhu and Bandra, the whole issue of negligible numbers of police registration for domestic help across India has been unveiled. As per a Mumbai police official, prior police registration of domestic help with local police can act as a deterrent for any crime. Even though residents of that area claimed that registration of data with police does not ensure safety, police officials very clearly mentioned that the if the domestic help is aware that his/her information is available with police, a fear factor to get caught after committing any crime will always prevail in their mind.

Reluctance to register domestic help from employer/resident’s side

A very basic question that arises in one’s mind is why only a negligible number of about 9-10% of domestic help is registered with police. Why don’t all employers/residents register their domestic help with police? The main reason behind the employers not registering the domestic help are:

a)    Employers not willing to take the pain of registering the domestic help with police

b)    Employers fearful of losing their domestic help as they may leave the moment an employer asks them to submit their details before local police

c)    Domestic help unwilling to share their details due to the fear of being unnecessarily harassed by police

The only people who ensure that they register their domestic help with police are those who keep things of high value at their homes, have full time maids for their children or senior citizens who keep domestic help to take care of them.

How do residents conduct the “unofficial” verification process and why police verification takes a back seat?

Most of the residents hire help through trusted references like friends etc. or if a particular person is working in several households in the neighbourhood, people just assume that it’s more than enough to hire someone. After a point of time, when a person becomes familiar to his/her new employer, the complete need of registering the domestic help with local police takes a back seat. With increased comfort level between the employer and the domestic help, police verification is never a priority. But honestly, is familiarity or comfort level enough to judge one’s criminal bent of mind?

Only when a domestic help leaves on bad terms or a resident feels threatened with a particular individual’s action, he/she tends to register that person with police.

Is simplification of the registration process a solution?

As per the current process, the employer takes down the details of temporary and permanent address of the domestic help and submits it to the local police with a photograph and ID proof. A lot of residents’ complaint that this process is time consuming. Quite a few residents claimed that if the police commences an online registration system, wherein one does not have to go to the police station personally, the number of registrations will increase. As per certain residents, one needs more facilitation centres who can help residents in employing bonafide domestic workers.

However, as per some of the police officials the entire system can be quickly simplified if the housing societies or resident welfare associations can collect the data from residents/ domestic help and submit the entire data set as a whole with police. The police department in Mumbai has been holding regular meetings with the housing societies to make verification mandatory in the apartments. The data with police deters planning of any criminal activities and enables police to detect crime faster. This process needs to be followed by all residential areas/apartments across India to keep their residents safe.

So, if you have still not registered the domestic help in your apartment, please prioritize this over all other activities for the safety of the residents of your apartment.

Better safe than sorry!

Source: DNA