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

HT Estates - - NEWS - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

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

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