Homebuyers and housing activists have welcomed the recent verdict of the Consumer commission, which penalised a builder for delayed delivery of constructed flats.
The state consumer commission had directed the Lok Housing and Construction Limited to pay Rs 1 lakh to the complainant Sudhakar Shetty for giving possession of the flats nine months after the scheduled date and that too without the copies of the three certificates issued by the civic body.
Ramesh Prabhu, president, Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MSWA), said he hoped this would make builders accountable. "Currently, homebuyers are left at the mercy of builders who barely adhere to deadlines," Prabhu said.
The Citizens Organisation for Public Opinion (COPO) said various regulations are required to rein in the builders. "A majority of the projects gets delayed and some even languish for years as builders hardly adhere to deadlines," said advocate Sanjeev Kanchan, president, COPO. "The homebuyers are the worst sufferers as they have to pay for living in rented apartments," he added.
Ironically, one of Lok Group's director Mayank Gandhi, is also co-ordinator of India Against Corruption's Mumbai chapter and has been at the forefront of the anti-corruption agitation. When asked about the anti-consumer stand taken by his company, Gandhi said, "I am not aware of this case. I am not looking into day to day running of the company."
Homebuyers are happy with the verdict. "At least now, I will know when I can shift to my new house," said Sudhir Bantwal, who has booked a house at Thane.
Currently the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act (MoFA) has the provision of 9% penalty with the refund of the original amount in case a consumer returns the flat on grounds of delayed possession. However, activists have called this impractical. "Most realty rates have doubled since I booked my flat two years ago and this rate of interest is very low," Bantwal said.
Builders, however, say it has become fashionable to demand accountability only from builders. "Most problems occur either due to delays of permissions from authorities or shortage of raw material. These things are beyond our control," said Sunil Mantri, chairman and managing director, Sunil Mantri Realty Limited.