Dharambir Singh was shocked to discover that the regulatory 'tiger' appointed by the government to protect him from an errant and fraudulent builder was essentially 'toothless'.
It has been six months since the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) appellate tribunal in Uttar Pradesh ruled in his favour against a prominent builder, but the order could not lead him to his dream home.
Singh is not the only buyer who feels that RERA is ineffective.
In UP, the regulatory body - initially seen as a ray of hope by lakhs of buyers awaiting possession of their properties - has turned out to be the proverbial 'paper tiger' as scores of its orders against builders remain unenforced.
The investigation revealed that most homebuyers who got a RERA ruling in their favour either did not get possession of their flats or weren't refunded.
Just two odd cases were found wherein the builder had either refunded the money or landed in jail post a RERA order. Singh had complained to the regulatory authority after his builder failed to deliver the flat.
"I was one of the first complainants. After three hearings, I received an order in my favour and the tribunal asked the builder to refund the entire amount I had invested, with an annual interest rate of 8.25 per cent." On January 17, the tribunal directed the builder to refund the amount plus interest to Singh within 45 days.
However, "it has been six months since the order was passed, but the builder has not returned me a penny", said Singh, who stays in Bisrakh, Greater Noida. "There is no clarity about how to proceed with RERA orders if errant builders have shut their offices and changed names of their projects," he added. Singh said that he had emailed, couriered and handed over the order copy in person to the RERA appellate tribunal in Lucknow.
"I have been calling them for the last six months, but I got no response," he lamented. Dhirendra Singh, BJP MLA from Jewar constituency, Greater Noida, said: "We have seriously taken up the issue of homebuyers. The government is planning to appoint an honest officer to execute the RERA orders." But till that "honest officer" is appointed, buyers continue to suffer.
Vishal Kumar Singh, who stays in Bengaluru and had booked a flat in Noida, got a favourable verdict from the tribunal on March 13 against his builder.
"The tribunal had asked the builder to refund my money plus the current interest rate of the bank within 45 days. However, three months have passed. The order was a ray of hope for me, but it seems errant builders are untouchable," he said. The RERA appellate offices are scattered all over western and central UP, but not in Noida and Greater Noida where 90 per cent of such cases are reported.
As a result, complainants have to visit appellate offices either in Hapur, Agra, Meerut or Lucknow for the hearings. Ankit Jain, a resident of Yamaha Vihar in Noida, too had knocked the tribunal's door after a delay in possession.
"I received an order in April directing the builder to pay my dues with an annual interest of 18 per cent within 45 days. The tribunal also slapped a Rs 50,000 fine on the builder for legal and commuting expenses," he said.
However, Jain's nightmare continues.
"Some of my fellow homebuyers, who too had approached RERA, received some post-dated cheques from the builder that bounced," he said. Repeated messages and calls to Noida Authority CEO Alok Tandon went unanswered. The Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) said the government must ensure that homebuyers either get possession of their flats or the money refunded.
"Some action has been taken and one builder was even arrested. But this doesn't ensure delivery of flats on time or refund. We have given our suggestion to the Centre. The primary motive is to not let the buyer suffer," said Suresh Garg, secretary CREDAI (western UP).
Input feed Source : Abhishek Anand .,IT