Housing activists welcomed chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s statement on Sunday seeking to end the nexus between builders, officials and politicians. However, they said he should follow it up with action.
Activists said two things should be done immediately --- constitute a Housing Regulatory Body with powers to punish errant builders and encourage construction of low cost houses.
“The builders lobby is ruling Mantralaya and is getting all the rules bent in its favour,” said Ramesh Prabhu, president, Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association. He said the regulatory bill has been deferred on two occasions because of pressure from the builders lobby and even the final copy of the deemed conveyance was watered down to suit their interests.
Another sore point is the pricing of property. Activists said today there are hardly any flats costing less than Rs 1 crore in the city limits. “The whole effort is aimed to throw the poor and middle class out of the city,” said Simpreet Singh, conveyer, Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan, which works for housing rights and urban development issues.
Eminent lawyer, Vinod Sampat, who handles realty cases, said builders continue to defy the state on sale by carpet area and openly sell parking areas and other amenities. “There are no deadlines for projects,” Sampat said.
Developers, however, are passing the buck. “The discretional powers are misused by these bureaucrats and politicos and we are painted as villains,” said Anand Gupta, secretary, Builders Association of India. “How can we provide low cost houses when we are sold land at astronomical costs by the government itself,” Gupta said.