‘Home­buy­ers more aware’

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Van­dana Ram­nani

An­other good Sa­mar­i­tan cam­paign­ing for the en­vi­ron­ment is Amit Ku­mar, a school teacher by pro­fes­sion, who ques­tioned the logic be­hind con­struct­ing res­i­den­tial apart­ments within a 10-km ra­dius of the Okhla Bird Sanc­tu­ary. Fol­low­ing Ku­mar’s com­plaint the Na­tional Green Tri­bunal gave or­ders pro­hibit­ing the New Okhla In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Author­ity ( Noida) from giv­ing com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cates to hous­ing projects fall­ing within a 10-km ra­dius of the Sanc­tu­ary.

“Such con­struc­tions were be­ing car­ried out ille gally with­out ob­tain­ing the re­quired ap­proval from the Na­tional Board of Wildlife (NBWL),” says Ku­mar’s lawyer, Gau­rav Ku­mar Bansal, who claims to have ap­peared pro bono for the case. “Since the gov­ern­ment showed lit­tle con­cern for en­vi­ron­men­tal laws and failed to take care of the sanc­tu­ary, the ap­pli­cant had to move court,” he adds.

Even­tu­ally, the home­buy­ers, the com­mon peo­ple, were the ones to suf­fer the most. Had the builders and the author­ity taken clear­ances from the en­vi­ron­ment min­istry for the projects this prob­lem might not have arisen. The ball right now is in the min­istry’s court as it has to no­tify the 100 m buf­fer zone pro­posed by the UP gov­ern­ment be­fore com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cates are fi­nally handed over.

There are many issues that this case has raised. One, pub­lic per­cep­tion has un­der­gone a change. Ear­lier, peo­ple would sim­ply look at an ad­ver­tise­ment and blindly book an apart­ment. Now home­buy­ers ques­tion builders, ask for en­vi­ron­ment and fire depart­ment clear­ances, adds Bansal.

A case which could have changed the game for home buy­ers, re­lates to Jy­oti Swa­roop Arora, a con­sumer, who had com­plained of al­leged col­lu­sion be­tween re­al­tors as­so­ci­ated with the Credai. Anti-trust watch­dog Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion of In­dia had then ex­panded the scope of the com­plaint to in­clude around 20 de­vel­op­ers and found that their ac­tions in­di­cated a “one- fol­lows- the- other” phe­nom­e­non which could not have meant in­de­pen­dent ac­tion by the builders and that there was no ev­i­dence that Credai al­lowed th­ese com­pa­nies to fix prices.

Had Arora gone for an ap­peal or i f t he mat­ter had been re­ferred to a higher court, it could have been a game-changer, says MM Sharma, head of com­pe­ti­tion law and pol­icy, Vaish As­so­ciates Ad­vo­cates.

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