Harassed homebuyers in Gurgaon are no longer at the mercy of builders who fail to give possession of flats on time or provide promised facilities.
With the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) recently directing realty major Unitech Limited to pay R14 lakh as penalty to a buyer for failing to deliver an apartment within the agreement date, residents in Gurgaon are fast setting the norm of constructive citizen activism.
"I had booked an apartment in 2007 and was told that the project will be completed by July 31, 2009. I paid a sum of R1.44 lakh as down payment and R55,000 as club membership charges. Unitech was supposed to hand over the possession by September 2010 but it did not," said Sanjay Goyal, who had moved the apex consumer forum.
The NCDRC directed Unitech to handover the flat within six months by November this year to Goyal. "If the builder fails to do so, extra penalty of R25,000 per month will be payable to the complainant. They will also pay rent of R42,500 till the flat is handed over," the order states.
"Compensation and litigation charges of R50,000 will also be paid to the complainant. Rent and compensation will be paid within 60 days or else it will carry an interest of 9% per annum," the order read.
Executives of multi-national firms in the city have taken up the cudgels to set an example of how it takes more than just hard-pressing the authorities to find solutions.
In townships such as Orchid Petal, Close North and World Spa, citizen activism has scaled new heights and paved the way for a more pro-active approach in comparison to the resident welfare associations (RWA).
"The Unitech ruling is a landmark decision. The forum has acknowledged the suffering consumers go through due to endless delays by the developer. This judgment sets the balance right and we hope builders take this in the right way and change their contracts in line with the ruling," said Nitin Grover, an MNC employee who is also a harassed buyer of an apartment in New Town Heights by DLF Limited.
The movement against builders has got an impetus with various groups of Gurgaon buyers mulling to form a big forum or association.
"We welcome the NCDRC decision and it has proved that builders are not free to manipulate agreements with innocent buyers. We have formed a group of 900 buyers through Facebook and are willing to join hands with others to make a bigger forum," said Pankaj Kalra, a senior lawyer.
Unitech Limited, meanwhile, refused to divulge whether it will challenge the apex consumer forum's order. "There is no such development till date and it is not appropriate to comment on the consumer forum's decision," said a spokesperson.
Earlier too, individuals and associations have moved court or consumer forums or the Competition Commission of India to get justice against builders.
"Whether it is Orchid Petal, Park View or Close North, people protested and remained united against the builders. This is an emerging trend that we welcome and wish to join such groups who can help us in future," said Surjit Guha, an engineer who has booked a flat in Sector 82.
"Developers are supposed to respect buyers, the agreement and follow the norms which they unfortunately do not do and harass innocent buyers. We are now in no mood to tolerate such harassment," said Vinay Mitra, a resident of Orchid Petal.