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From 'We The Homebuyers' of India: What Year 2017 got right for real estate

Here’s what we shall remember you for.

Manisha Natarajan @manishanataraj

Dear 2017,

First up, give yourself a thumping pat on the back. You will definitely go down as an unforgettable year in the history of India’s housing market.

You brought us RERA (The Real Estate Regulation Act), to finally give us, the hapless home buyers some protection from over 70,000 builders across India; 76,000 to be exact, as enumerated in the Housing Ministry Press Release. We are glad that the powers that be, chose the significant date of 1st May to bring in RERA. After all lakhs of working class in India have been stuck in severely delayed projects paying EMI + Rent, with little light at the end of a very dark tunnel. What an amazing free for all market it was before you came 2017, where our hard earned, lifetime savings could disappear forever into big fat holes dug to build our dream homes.

But 2017, just as we relieved home buyers were going to whoop 36 cheers, we realized, it was a miserable 2 cheers for us – 1  cheer for Maharashtra and the other one for Madhya Pradesh, the only 2 States in our blessed federal democracy of  29 + 7 (States + UTs what else?) which got RERA right. Rest were all a damp squib on our hopes of getting our stuck homes, leave alone penal interest.

2017, we are sorry to say, 1.6 lakhs of us are still ending the year with no sight of our flats/homes. Most of these shattered dreams belong to the firmly established biggest chor real estate market of India – The National Capital Region or NCR. Seriously, what a pompous name for 3 collective states which have haven’t been able to get one act – RERA, right?

Our Uttar Pradesh government thinks forming a 3 member ministerial committee is good enough to appease us. Turning a blind eye to the role that their incompetent authorities – Noida, Greater Noida & Yamuna Expressway have played in creating an utter mess, is conveniently ignored. Can we ask 2017, who cleared Supertech’s plan to build Emerald Court in the first place? We’d also like to ask another pertinent question: Who invoked the urgency clause, to set up industries in Greater Noida West and gave away the farmer’s land to builders and are now busy extracting their pound of flesh from the same builders? Tch Tch.

And 2017, please do convey our deepest condolence to Haryana, the State with the so called Millennium City Gurgaon for deliberately killing RERA even before it has had any chance of growing into a healthy child and a working adult.   Please tell the honorable Chief Minister and other lovely people of the Haryana Town and Planning Department that giving a big fat  escape to every developer in the name of applying for an OC, will come back to haunt them, or so we pray. Try getting us, the buyer back into the overpriced, shoddy on delivery Gurgaon market for the next few years.

Another death 2017, we deeply grieve is that of Telangana RERA. Alien Space Station Buyers’ hopes have departed with the departed soul of RERA in the State. We guess, we the home buyers don’t matter in a State which is busy tom-tomming itself as business destination number 1.  After all, we do pale in comparison to power packed Global Summits Telangana has been busy hosting.

And 2017, let’s not forget dear Delhi, which contrary to all rules, has appointed The Vice Chairperson of DDA (Delhi Development Authority) , a  developer itself, as the Regulator! How in the good lord’s name will DDA establish the right and wrong, when it’s busy collecting the returned flats from buyers, who refuse to take its sub-standard product? 2017, are you on twitter? I’m sure you must be. Everyone who matters is. Do a quick search on “DDA a Cheat” to see the daily slamming that this planning agency for the Capital gets. Is DDA expected to deliver a swanky happening Delhi through land pooling and affordable homes + regulate the rest of the private developers? What a joke Sirjee.

2017 we are so sorry to be coming down that hard on you.  You weren’t a total washout, we promise.  You did gave us something we truly cherish - the attention of the highest courts of the country.  The High Court & the mighty Supreme Court!

We’re shy to say it so openly, but we totally want to plant a kiss on the cheek of the High Court bench for throwing out the builder brigade who decided to challenge the constitutional validity of the RERA ACT. Hello? What gall! How long did they think their free-for-all party would go on? Guess these builders didn’t count for the doggedness of the Forum For People’s Collective Efforts (FPCE) and a very quiet extremely efficient consultant to the Ministry of Housing (who chooses to remain unnamed) in this court battle.

But we’re not at all shy to say we want to give a huge big hug to the Supreme Court bench which has finally nabbed the “Choron Ka Raja” – Unitech and ordered the other slippery slimy JP Group to cough up home buyers’ money or flats.  No, we’re simply not buying Mr. Sanjay Chandra’s statement that there has been no wrongdoing, and our flats have not been delivered because of the financial burden of the 2G spectrum case!

We know 2017, just throwing one pair into Tihar jail and making the other sweat enough to start selling some crown hotel jewels won’t altogether cut it for us.  We have a long battle ahead. But we wrap you up with a glimmer of hope, that someday, one day, we will get our flats or refunds with interest due, even if we’ve lost our hair, our health and even a few family members in the process.

2017, we’d like to conclude by thanking the Housing Minister Hardeep S Puri for taking the bull by its horns. Quite fabulous of him to declare openly that it is these ill-intentioned builders who are responsible for the holy housing mess. We hope and pray, Mantreeji will not shift the needle on getting RERA implemented in its true spirit across India and scuttle any attempts to dilute it.

But 2017, our biggest collective thanks is to YOU, for making India’s housing market sweat! Really sweat. Prices haven’t moved an inch, all and sundry who were busy launching projects on our money have now disappeared, and perhaps from now on, We The Home Buyer will call the shots, or so we live in eternal hope!

Yours Truly#WTHB of India
First Published on Jan 8, 2018 09:37 am
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