Duped buyers resort to Gandhigiri
Thirty families, duped by a builder, have chosen the ‘Gandhigiri’ route to get the houses they’ve paid for. The families — comprising 107 people — have started living in the compound of the 24-storey building developer Nitin Mehta left half-finished.
The families had booked their flats in Benzer Tower, Kandivli (E), in 1994 at the rate of Rs 2,000 per sq ft. Construction, they say, began two years later.
In 2000, the high court had ordered a stop to the illegal constructions built by Mehta around Benzer. However, the families say, Mehta halted work on Benzer Tower, claiming he had no funds.
Subsequently, around 30 first information reports were filed with the Kasturba Marg police station on the orders of a magistrate under Sections 406 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code for cheating to the tune of crores of rupees and also under Sections 3, 5, 11 and 13 of the Maharashtra Plot Ownership Act. In many cases, the families claim, Mehta sold the same flats to several people.
“A house in Mumbai is a dream, but Mehta destroyed our dreams,” said Narendra Bhansali, secretary of Benzer Tower Cooperative Housing Society.
“I booked Flat No. 2103 in the ‘A’ wing in 1999 but haven’t got possession yet. Having lost all hope, we resorted to Gandhigiri.” Added Lakshman Patel, a builder himself: “I purchased a flat as a wedding gift for my daughter, but now it is of no use.”
Mehta himself could not be traced and several attempts to reach him proved futile. But his brother Vinay, a director of the project, told HT: “Construction was stopped on the orders of the high court. Only the municipal commissioner can give permission for the building now.”
Vinay further said: “When we approached him (the municipal commissioner), he told us to improve the foundation, which took six months.” He justified the registration of flats to more than one person by saying: “All I can say is that we had cancelled the registrations of defaulters and after sending cancellation notices, sold the flats to other people.”