By Sunil Dang
Last fortnight, we witnessed arrest of two leading officials of the Amrapali Group — a leading real estate company in Delhi NCR — under Section 171 of the UP Revenue Board Act. Labour cess worth Rs 4.29 crore was not paid, which was the reason behind the action. The reason for choosing to write about this different from the aforementioned. The government of Uttar Pradesh was forced to take such stringent action because all attempts of the state government to reach out to the company officials were unsuccessful. Probably, this was the reason why the District Magistrate Office had no option but to announce that, “further legal action will be taken if company did not pay the due amount.”
This act of the UP government was a necessary signal to the builder fraternity to work within the purview of law. It’s time for the construction companies to bring their balance sheets in sync with the requirements of the Real Estate Regulation Authority (RERA) or else face the legal music. The builder- system nexus has made reduced the accessibility of justice for unsuspecting homeowners. Today, more than 30,000 ready to shift homes are available in Noida while around 1.5 lakh inventories are existing on papers that needs to be delivered in coming three years. However, when we talk about the number of units in terms of “delay in possession”, it would be difficult to find proper data— and this is the manifest proof of the existence of such a nexus.’ The system is not ready to divulge any data related to projects and the number of units which are running late by their actual time of delivery. The status quo was not to be stomached by Yogi Adityanath. It became evident when the UP Chief Minister said that in Noida and Greater Noida alone there were more than 1.50 lakh buyers who were fighting to get the possession of their flats for which they had already fully compensated to builders. Hence, Yogi Government’s decision to file FIR against Amrapali group and the Jaypee Group was a welcome step. Since, the builders are not used to such act by the state executive, they didn’t take this FIR seriously and hence the government was forced to initiate a crackdown on the builder lobby. This act would bring in welcome relief to a huge number of middle class homebuyers who have alleged distress on the hands of builders.
It would be interesting to know that there exist a huge number of homebuyers who have paid 90-100 percent of their unit price and are still not given possession by their builders. Their alibi is ‘National Green Tribunal’ gag on NOC. If this is the case, why not the builder waits for the lifting of gag on NOC by the NGT? Why it’s homebuyer only who has been forced to bleed, why not the builders? And most importantly, what the RERA is doing in this regard. Why are the authorities allowing builders to announce projects after projects when they have failed to deliver in their existing and previous projects? While speaking at a function last fortnight organized by CREDAI — UP Chapter — the UP Chief Minister warned the builder who have made a habit of handing over unfinished projects that lack basic infrastructure inside the townships. He warned the builders to sort out issues through dialogue with the buyers failing which the government will be forced to take stern action against those who do not fall in line.
However, the Yogi Government by itself can’t address the abysmal situation of the Indian real estate sector. Some, steps needs to be taken by the RERA and the central government. Since, RERA is aimed to safeguarding the homebuyers’ interest, there should be a committee headed by a sitting Supreme Court Judge to list out the builders who have failed to give possession on time. The list should also include the number of builders who have gone on to announce projects without completing the earlier announced projects. Apart from this, there should be a provision for each home builder to have separate balance sheet for separate project. Then the findings of this Supreme Court Judge committee should be used to take nationwide action of the builders who have made habit of cheating home buyers. If the central government complies Yogi Government with such action, then only the Middle Class of the whole nation would have a feeling that their government is working for them.
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