Homebuyers dreams turn into nightmare as development eludes new sectors of Mohali
It has been more than a decade since the new sectors of Mohali started taking shape after the then Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh introduced the mega township policy in 2005, allowing private sector realty players to come up with townships. A number of local, national and international players entered the fray offering residential and commercial properties in newly carved sectors of the city, spawning Sectors 81 to 116 (along the Kharar-Landran-Banur axis, also known as Greater Mohali, and the airport road). Sixty-nine project licenses have been issued in these sectors so far.
“Along with developers and realty buyers, homebuyers were particularly optimistic about the future of this area given its affordability, connectivity to Chandigarh and most of all, government-backed planned development with private sector efficiency,” says Mohan Dutt, a resident of Ireo Rise, Sector 99.
But over the years, a mix of politics, bureaucratic indifference, poor infrastructural development, irresponsible developers and the realty slowdown have combined to turn this home buyer’s dream into a nightmare.
Politics of development
Only two years into the development of the new sectors, the five-year term of the Capt government ended. At the time, only few developers had launched their projects, with most still in the preliminary stages of construction
The new political dispensation, SAD-BJP combine, took over in 2007, and the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) started working on developing an alternative planned city on the north-west side of Chandigarh. In 2007, GMADA appointed Jurong Consultants Private Ltd, Singapore, to complete a comprehensive integrated master plan for the new township of Mullanpur, spread over an area of approximately 15,000 acres.
“Mullanpur was not just an alternative to the tricity, it was in direct competition to the new sectors of Mohali,” says Himanshu Pant, chief operating officer, Ansal API(North). Infrastructural development of Mullanpur area was fast forwarded with a slew of residential, commercial and institutional projects. The state government gave Mullanpur another edge in 2013 by branding it as the New Chandigarh. Soon, builders in the new sectors saw buyer interest shifting to New Chandigarh. While buyers booked plots (priced around Rs 1 crore) in a New Chandigarh project by paying in full, realty prices slumped in the new sectors.
Meanwhile in Mohali, developers either have complete sectors to themselves, or two or more developers share a sector. All the internal development works like roads, drinking water, sewage and drainage systems, sewage treatment plants, parks, etc have to be developed by the builders. Only external development, including roads and their maintenance, is the responsibility of GMADA.
Though most developers promised possession in three to four years, delays have become endemic. While some developers delivered possession way after the deadlines, in others cases like Unitech and Pearl the projects were abandoned midway. “The fate of home buyers is uncertain in abandoned projects like Pearl City where even property transfer and registration is not possible as these projects are mired in legal disputes,” says Kulbir Singh Sidhu, president Pearls City Mohali Residents Welfare Association.
Unending resident woes
Internal infrastructure such as roads, sewage treatment plans and socio-cultural amenities like parks, hospitals, schools, etc are missing in most of the projects. “Though educational and health facilities have been planned here, they are yet to be developed,” says Dutt.
For residents of these sectors, the most agonising part is the failure of GMADA to fulfil its obligations. GMADA has taken more than ₹800 crore from developers for laying the external infrastructure. Jaswinder Pal Singh, president Ireo Rise Resident Welfare Group, Sector 99, said, “There are more than 70 families living in our project, and more are moving in. But living conditions are dismal and the road connecting the sector to the city is in a terrible condition. There are potholes everywhere. It hasn’t been recarpeted even once after its construction.” Bridges and roads in most of the new sectors are lying incomplete for several years now.
“For instance, the sector 80-81 bridge connecting the area to airport road is yet to be completed even though tendering for it was done around nine years ago,” says Sidhu.
Residents also fret about their safety, “It is unsafe to travel to this part of the city at night; our relatives, friends and even people living here avoid commuting after sundown. Either the streetlights don’t work or they have not been installed. Also, wild vegetation grows everywhere,” complained JP Singh, owner of a flat at Wave Floor, Sector 99. Roadside consumption of alcohol too is a daily menace.
In several projects sewage and drainage systems are yet to be connected to the GMADA mainlines. Slamming GMADA for neglecting the new sectors, Amrit Pal Singh, a resident of Emaar Mohali Hills, Sector 108, said, “Leave aside Mullanpur, even GMADA’s own Aero City and IT City are much better developed than the new sectors. For GMADA, Mohali ends at the airport road.”
Can things improve?
GMADA officials say so. “Things will improve with the completion of work in this financial year,” said Gurneet Tej, chief administrator, GMADA. The authority is also considering laying the internal roads of these sectors. “We are working on the request of builders for completing the internal roads, which are the responsibility of developers. In some sectors with more than one builder, while some have built their share of roads,others are yet to start work.”