Mumbai: 34 years later, 800 buyers of Paranjape Construction’s project get refund – ET RealEstate

MUMBAI: In a long-drawn legal battle with a builder, around 800 buyers, who booked flats in an affordable housing scheme in Virar in 1986, finally started receiving refund cheques totalling Rs 24 crore.

Over three decades ago, they had paid builder, Paranjape Construction, Rs 1 lakh to Rs 11 lakh for homes at the J P Nagar project at Kofrad village, Virar.

The developer completed some buildings but was unable to finish the project, forcing stranded purchasers to approach the consumer court from 1998. They were represented by the consumer rights group, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP).

Following a national consumer disputes redressal commission court order in favour of buyers in 2012, the builder’s land was auctioned for Rs 24 crore that year but he challenged the auction in Bombay high court. The HC did not stay the auction but directed that money not be disbursed to the buyers till the final order.

In February 2019, the court ordered that the amount be paid to the buyers. But due to parliamentary and assembly elections, the local collector’s office was unable to start the process. Early this year, the pandemic lockdown further delayed the payment.

Recently, Vasai tehsildar Ujwala Bhagat transferred the amounts to Bandra Consumer Commission’s office for disbursal to the buyers. “We started returning the money two months back,’’ she said.
Mumbai: 34 years later, 800 buyers of Paranjape Construction's project get refund“It is a historic and landmark case where 800 home-buyers led by MGP fought against the builder. This case speaks volumes about the very poor functioning of consumer courts, which are expected to redress consumer grievances in three to five months. During this long period, few purchasers expired,’’ MGP chairman advocate Shirish Deshpande told TOI. “Most buyers had given up hope of getting their hard-earned money but MGP ultimately succeeded in getting it back,’’ he said.

The developer could not be reached for a comment.

In 1986-87, Paranjpae Construction announced an affordable housing scheme in Virar, offering homes at “very reasonable prices’’. Many middle-class families were tempted to book flats/row houses and paid substantial amounts. The developer completed around a dozen buildings and gave possession to buyers. But he was unable to finish the entire project, leaving 800 buyers in the lurch. MGP filed cases in consumer courts at the district forum and national commission level on behalf of the buyers in five batches between 1998-2002. The builder was ordered to refund the money along with compensation, but did not comply with orders.

MGP invoked Section 25 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and got Paranjape’s property at Virar auctioned through the collector. “The developer challenged the auction in HC in 2012, so money received through it could not be paid to the buyers. After seven years, the HC dismissed Paranjape’s challenge, observing that there was no irregularity in the auction and cleared the way for a refund,’’ said MGP secretary Anita Khanolkar.

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Houses for poor under PMAY get 52% price hike in Vasai-Virar – ET RealEstate

MUMBAI: Despite reservations from pricing committee, a low cost housing project in Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation has got 52 per cent price hike by the state government. Under the Prime Minister Awas Yojana (PMAY), 44,276 houses proposed at Rajawali village are meant for the economically weaker section whose price has been increased from Rs 14 lakh to 22 lakh.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Mission launched on June 25, 2015 intends to provide housing for all in urban areas by 2022. Earlier BJP government had announced to build 19 lakh houses in Maharashtra by the given deadline.

Earlier this month on November 2, the proposal came before the state level sanctioning and monitoring committee headed by the chief secretary for approval. Mirror has accessed the minutes of the meeting which said “the cost as per ASR (ready reckoner) is Rs 14.79 lakh. Cost per DU (dwelling unit) demanded by PP (project proposal) is Rs 22.50 lakh which is 52.03 per cent above ASR cost which is beyond permissible incentive of 20 per cent. Hence the proposal is placed before the pricing committee. The current ASR rate for the year 2020-21 is Rs 50,600 accordingly the selling price of the flat is 52.03 per cent higher than ASR.”

However, the project has been approved by the committee and sent to the Centre for the final approval. Under the PMAY project, the municipal corporation gives all facilities like water connection, electricity to the developer without any hassle. In this project, the government has given FSI 2.5 which is one in ordinary case and exemption on stamp duty, the sources in the housing department said.

When contacted CEO of MHADA Anil Diggikar, he refused any reservation about the project. “There was no reservation on pricing of the houses. In Mumbai, the land cost is higher and considering that, the pricing committee has approved the project,” Diggikar said.

Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar was not available for comment on the issue despite phone call and text message. Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad was also not available for comment.

As per the project proposal, total dwelling units would be 76,257 of which 62,428 dwelling units to be constructed for the economically weaker sections including 44,276 houses for the beneficiaries of PMAY and 18,152 for free sale. Also, 13,829 of lower income group category would be for sale. The total project cost is Rs 9,962 crore of which the Centre would pay Rs 664 crore and the state would pay Rs 442 crore and the beneficiaries would have to pay Rs 8,855 crore.

Questioning the hike without proper reasoning, respected architech and housing expert Chandrashekhar Prabhu said it defeats the purpose of the scheme. “Though the urban population is increasing and almost 50 percent people live in urban areas, most cannot afford to buy a house only because of the artificial hike in prices. In Mumbai less than 2 percent can afford to buy a house. If the government is permitting keeping the prices at par with market rate then it would in effect deny the urban poor and middle class the right to affordable housing. The PMAY scheme is meant for the poor and affordability is key of the scheme. Such hike without proper reasoning defeats the purpose of the scheme. More so because the builders are being given huge economic benefits including tax exemptions,” he said.

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Despite MahaRERA directions, buyers left in the lurch by Bhoomi Arcade – ET RealEstate

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MUMBAI: A group of home buyers from Bhoomi Acropolis project in Virar West are complaining that despite accepting possession on MahaRERA directions in March 2019, more than a year later, developer Bhoomi Arcade Associates have not provided them basic amenities like proper electricity meters, potable water connections, and formation of their society.

Acropolis is a large township project comprising ten 15-storey building in Virar with more than 600 residents. Home buyers booked flats in this project in 2013 on the assurance that they would be given possession in 2015. When the possession was delayed, home buyers began MahaRERA was set up from May 2017, they approached Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority(MahaRERA) for possession of flats, and few also wanted to seek refund of their investments and exit the project.

Ankush Dewan was among those whose complaint was heard by MahaRERA. Dewan had booked a flat in December 2015 in Acropolis Phase II and was promised possession by March 31, 2016 as per the registered agreement but was delayed. The developer contended that the firm was facing mitigating circumstances beyond its control but agreed to hand over possession within next 6 to 8 months.

In his January 30, 2018 order, MahaRERA chairman Gautam Chatterjee observed that the developer had put December 2021 as the revised date of project completion and it was unreasonable. As per Section 4 of Maharashtra Real Estate Rules, the revised date has to be commensurate with the extent of balance construction, and therefore Chatterjee asked the developer to provide possession by May 2018 with Occupancy Certificate or be liable to pay interest for the delayed period from June 2018.

Besides Dewan, other residents who approached MahaRERA seeking refund included Amit Wadhwani, Austin Pillai, Nalini Saxena, Suraj Sharma. “We had filed seeking refund, but MahaRERA chairman convinced us that we should not exit the project, take possession and the developer would complete all his obligations. If he doesn’t, we could approach him again. Accordingly we took possession May 2019 onwards,” said Amit Wadhwani, one of the complainants.

However, more than a year later, they are struggling without these amenities. “The water is brought by tankers and we are relying on bottled water for drinking. The power supply has been obtained temporarily from neighbouring Rustomjee project. We still don’t have electricity meters, no geysers, inverters. Our society is yet to be formed,” he said.

Wadhwani says water has been seeping in his seventh floor flat. “I can understand if it is an old building but this is brand new construction. I have already got the seepage repaired twice, but it continues. When we question the developer, they blame HDIL from whom they purchased the land and say that company was supposed to obtain power and water clearances from Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC). But, as a home buyer, we are not concerned with a third party,” he told Mirror.

Another resident Austin Pillai said he booked his flat in December 2016 with the promise of possession by March 2017, but the developers representatives started dilly-dallying as the deadline neared. Frustrated by the delay, he approached MahaRERA. “After I filed the complaint, the developer was ready to offer possession. But, I was hesitant to take it because municipal water and power meters were not yet installed. But, the developer promised that it will be available in a few months after taking the possession. So I took possession in May 2019. Now it has been more than a year, both these things are still not available. My complaint is still pending with MahaRERA, and I hope that these amenities are available soon,” said Pillai.

When they approached MahaRERA again, the home buyers were told that they will have to file a fresh complaint as they had taken possession. “This has caused further confusion. We took possession on MahaRERA’s directions, and were told to come back if the developer doesn’t comply. Now when we go back to MahaRERA, they want us to file a fresh complaint, pay complaint charges again,” Wadhwani said.

When Mirror repeatedly tried to contact Chaitya Mehta, Director, Bhoomi Arcade Associates, there was no response to calls, messages and mails.

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