You cannot be taken for a ride
RTI has helped unearth several real estate frauds and, is perhaps, the best tool for homebuyers to verify the authenticity of a project
Sachin Yadav, a 32-yearold RTI activist, had booked a studio apartment last year in an upcoming real estate project in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, by paying ` 4.5 lakh. Concerned about his investment, he decided to file an RTI (Right To Information) application with the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) to know whether the builder had obtained all the requisite permissions to construct the project.
“The reply revealed that the developer had got permission to construct one tower up to ten floors only, while the studio flat I had booked was on the 18th floor. When I checked with the developer, he immediately returned the booking amount without giving any satisfactory reply to my query. Imagine what would happen to buyers who invest their hard-earned money in such projects,” says Yadav.
But t housands of other homebuyers are not as fortunate as Yadav. As many as 500 home-owners from five different group housing projects by well-known developers in Indirapuram are in a state of shock after realising that they have been living in ‘illegal’ flats for the last five to eight years. Applications filed under the RTI Act by office bearers of the resident welfare associations of these projects have revealed that the developers have built more t han t he sanctioned number of flats.
What is surprising is that top banks have extended loans to these ‘illegal’ flats, and the revenue department of Uttar Pradesh has collected stamp duty as registration fee from these buyers.
“The reply from GDA has shocked all the 765 families in our group housing project as only 545 flats have been found to be in accordance with the sanctioned plan. We don’t know the exact flat numbers assigned to the 220 unauthorised flats because we didn’t ask for the particulars of the units in our application. Now we are planning to file another application to get these specific details,” says Nisha Rai, a resident of one of the five housing projects in Indirapuram.
“We have been residing in these flats since 2007 and, in the last six years, the prices of these apartments have appreciated from ` 35 lakh to more than ` 1 crore,” she adds.
Office bearers of RWAs of other group housing projects in Indirapuram are now planning to approach the GDA under RTI to know if their developers have flouted any norms.
“We wish we had filed the application before buying our flats. If GDA takes any extreme step, we will be at the receiving end,” says an RWA member from another group housing project.
Besides Ghaziabad, other real estate destinations such as Noida, Greater Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon have Punjabi Bagh Rajouri Garden Ramesh Nagar