Supreme Court monitored housing Projects in the doldrum

Dr VK Bahuguna

The Supreme Court of India in a land mark intervention to provide justice to more than 40,000 flat buyers of Noida from the clutches of real estate thugs of Amrapali group led by Anil Sharma, issued direction on 23rd July 2019 so that the stalled housing projects are completed. The Amrapali group indulged in one of the biggest real estate scams by siphoning off more than 11,000 cores of hard-earned money of the flat buyers. The court directed the National Building Corporation (NBCC) and the Banks to ensue completion of the projects by arranging funds. To monitor the execution of the work senior advocate R. Venkataramani was appointed as Court Receiver.  The Receiver has been coordinating with various agencies to implement the court order. And due to the hard work of court receiver several hundred buyers have got possession of their flats. 

However, the recent happening in the execution of the work it seems that project is sliding back to abnormality due to various reasons. The execution of housing projects demands more attention after post-handover. In several projects being executed by NBCC are suffering now due to neglect and the attitude of NBCC. The NBCC mandarins consider their tasks over once they somehow complete the building and hand over the flats to buyers no matter the attached essential facilities like lift and power back up are neither created nor available. One clear case of projects may be derailed is Amrapali Centurion Park Terrace Home which is alienating the home buyers from the Receiver and NBCC. The NBCC has handed over the flats to show their achievements without ensuring power connections and encouraged the families to move in. Consider the plight of a family in 14th floor when there is no power and lifts are not running. The power is supplied through the commercial line obtained by the contractor of the NBCC. How can a government body working under the supervision of the Supreme Court can hand over the flats without basic amenities? So far more than 130 families have shifted in this society and the situation may be similar in other societies but despite the parking available and demarcated the NBCC has not been handing over the parking place to the flat buyers as per the Builder Buyer Agreement. This is necessarily done in any other housing project. Because of this there is jostling for parking place and some time law and order problems cropping up.

The lifts are not being maintained properly either as there is some design faults and frequently people are being trapped inside the lift. The NBCC and its contractor want to get rid of the projects despite not completed as per the government norms but they are insisting on handing over the project to Adhoc AoA. It is for the NBCC top brass to think how a project of 5000 flats can be handed over to only 170 residents. It requires a big infrastructure and planning.  For involving the home buyers Receiver has encouraged to create Adhoc Association of Apartment (AoA) Owners so that they are gradually trained to take over but the AoA constituted is either not able to work or is not interested in taking up the issues germane to smooth work. Further, the whole project has been divided into various parts and the partitions have not been removed even when the handover have been given, the project has been designed as one, barricade is still mot removed resulting in the residents facing numerous problems in accessing basement parking leading to parking chaos.

This great work of the judicial intervention should not get derailed and for this the Receiver office as well as NBCC should be sympathetic to the needs of the people they are working for specially of creating all infrastructure for community living in harmony. It is therefore, necessary that the court Receiver should direct the NBCC authorities to first comply with all requirements of high-rise buildings before handing over the flats and maintenance. NBCC even refused to support the creates ramps for the gas connections which are essentially done by the builders. The parking lots must be immediately allotted and power back ups are ensured for which the flat buyers can pay. At present already Rs 2 per sq ft is being paid and it should be as per the prevailing rates. The project maintenance is being done by the contractor of NBCC who have their own priority. However, they are also cheesed off due to the recalcitrant attitude of some flat owners who are not paying the maintenance charges. If they are not paying why then the water and electricity is not discontinued for such recalcitrant residents.

Gradually a permanent AoA should be created and management should be handed over to it after all necessary statutory requirements are met as per the building laws. A big project of 5000 flats more than half of which are not yet ready, it requires proper planning and administrative acumen to det things on right trajectory. Sufficient funds should be placed for AoA to begin with by pooling up the transfer charge being charged by the Receiver office on sale of the flats. Every flat owner must be also be behaving by contributing for smooth functioning of the project. Here the crux of the matter is that the project responsibility is not on one organization but three organizations are involved.

NBCC is one of the best civil construction PSU of the Central Government and this writer had based on their work in Tripura gave them to execute a work un der Indi-Japan project which they did very well. They have the qualification and capacity to do but surprisingly they are in a hurry to exit the half-done project and the reason for it is beyond comprehension. The projects of Amrapali are feather in NBCC’s cap as far as social welfare is concerned which they should not allowed to go sour. NBCC and their contractor must know dithering in sorting out small issues will only cast aspersions on their reputation and shall dent the Apex Court order.1025 words

(The author is formerly Principal Secretary of Government of Tripura)