The first public private partnership housing project of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Capital’s largest land owning and developing agency, is in trouble.
The project at Tehkhand in south Delhi, to be developed by a subsidiary of Indiabulls Real Estate Limited, seems to have gone wrong with the developer writing to the land agency to return the money it spent on buying the piece of land.
The DDA had auctioned the 11.8-acre land in Tehkhand for Rs 450 crore in April 2006.
At that time, it was the costliest land deal in the Capital.
Three years later, work is yet to start on the project. Kenneth Builders and Developers — the subsidiary of Indiabulls Real Estate Limited — wrote to the DDA on November 6, 2009, for a refund.
Work on the project was to begin by March 2007 and end by June 2008.
The plan was to build 750 swanky flats that could have been sold for a premium price. Another 3,500 houses were to constructed for the economically weaker section, which the DDA would have sold at subsidised rates for rehabilitation of slum dwellers in the area.
There are about 1,700 jhuggis at the Tehkand site.
DDA officials said the delay was caused by the environment department, which failed to approve the project on the ground that it was on Ridge area. A Supreme Court order prohibits construction in the Ridge area.
“The DDA should have verified whether the land in question falls in Ridge area or not before the auction,” said Rishi Aggarwal, counsel for Indiabulls. “A private citizen’s money should not have been put at risk without due verification of the usability of land.”
Indiabulls has also filed a petition in the high court asking for a refund.
“We are going through the representation submitted by India Bulls. DDA will submit its response on whether money should be refunded or not to the high court, where the case is pending, on December 4,” said Manoj Kumar Aggarwal, commissioner (Land disposal), DDA.
The court has also asked the Union Environment Ministry’s view in the matter.
The ministry is conducting a survey to ascertain if the auctioned land falls in Ridge area.
“The survey would be completed in the next two months. On the basis of the report, we would take a decision,” said a DDA official who did not want to be named.