Rahul Gandhi fired another salvo at the Narendra Modi government on Saturday for allegedly tweaking the
real estate bill
in favour of builders, as the Congress vice-president aggressively wooed the middle class after taking up the cause of farmers.
Gandhi, who has been attacking the government over the land acquisition bill and the plight of farmers hit by untimely rains, met more than 100 homebuyers from the national capital region (NCR) at the Congress headquarters and heard their grievances about delays in possession of flats and fake promises allegedly made by builders.
The meeting came in the wake of the government introducing a revamped Real Estate (Development and Regulation) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, which the opposition said is heavily tilted in favour of builders and leaves buyers facing the possibility of fraudulent practices by real estate developers.
The original bill was introduced in 2013 by the Congress-led UPA government.
Since returning from a 53-day leave of absence, Gandhi has been aggressively fighting for several issues, including the watered down land acquisition bill and net neutrality, seen as an issue for the middle class.
“I learned something new today. I thought only farmers and tribal people are suffering due to land issues. But the same issue extends to the middle class as well, which is equally being exploited by removing a transparency (clause from the real estate bill),” Gandhi told the media.
“Homebuyers are promised a certain super area...a specific time of completion of the project...beautiful view. But what they get (from the builder) in the end is totally different,” he said.
Assuring homebuyers that he would stand by them, Gandhi said that they were left in a quandary due to lack of transparency.
He said someone was promised that a flat will have a good view, but a few months after the flat was delivered, another building came up and the view was blocked.
The government, he said, was trying to destroy the bill which the UPA had introduced to regulate the real estate sector.
“The main dilution is that there was clear transparency. The carpet area that you sign is what would be given. They have diluted and from pro-buyer, made it pro-builder,” he said.
Saloni Paroothi, one of the homebuyers who met Gandhi, said she had booked a flat in Noida but possession had been delayed by several years. Explaining her problem, Paroothi said she not only had to ensure payment of EMIs but also the rent of the house where she is living.
“The builder is neither paying any penalty, nor is he listening to us,” she said.
Other people who had booked flats said they were under tremendous pressure as they had invested their hard earned money in projects that were delayed for several years.
Former housing and urban poverty alleviation minister and Congress leader Ajay Maken too attacked the NDA government, saying it had made “118 amendments” to the bill.
Builders have got greater leeway as the cost of consumers in the revamped Real Estate (Development and Regulation) Bill. The opposition is demanding that the redrafted bill be sent to a select committee as major changes have been made from the original bill.
The government, however, has defended the bill, saying it protects the interests of buyers without throttling the real estate sector.