iconimg Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sayli Udas Mankikar, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, August 06, 2009
The state government has put on hold its plan to set up a regulatory body for the real estate industry. At least till the Assembly elections are over. “We have already formulated a draft regulation, which is in waiting. We expect it to be tabled only in the next session, after elections,” said Sitaram Kunte, state housing secretary.

The regulatory body, which will be akin to what Securities and Exchange Board of India is to the stock market, aims at bringing in transparency and will act as a one-stop window for the real estate market.

For flat buyers, the regulatory body will serve as a platform to help them, especially if they have a grievance relating to pricing, infrastructure, building rentals and to keep tabs on illegal dealings.

Presently, there is no watchdog to monitor these areas.

Also, the government does not want to make enemies with powerful builders before polls.

Minister of State for Housing Pritam Shegaonkar on Wednesday seemed to be speaking on behalf of the builders. He was addressing a session on ‘Affordable Housing’ at the Golden Maharashtra Infrastructure Summit at Hotel Taj in Colaba on Wednesday.

“We need a regulator to regulate prices, especially with the Floor Space Index sops we are throwing in for builders with regards to projects like cluster development and redevelopment of slums,” said Shegaonkar.

“However, we also need to look at the high tax rates on building products which hike building costs, making issues like affordable housing only talking points.”

Builder Sunil Mantri, chief executive officer of Mantri Group, said any regulatory body, if it tries to control prices, is unacceptable. “Builders pay huge amounts to procure land and it will need to recover the costs and earn profits, so there should not be government intervention on this. If there is a regulator, it should be based on the model which looks at protecting the consumers’ interests,” said Mantri.