West Bengal: Real Estate Regulation Act gives a new ray of hope to many

"It is a very important legislation. For a long time we have been hearing about a lot of projects which are not getting completed," says a buyer.

High hopes are pinned on Real Estate Regulation Act (RERA) as it is yet to be implemented in West Bengal. However, several consumers, who have been facing problems in getting the possession of their property feel that they will soon see better opportunities.

Anshu Ruia (34) had put in his hard-earned money into DLF Galleria in eastern part of Kolkata in 2008. The building was ready by 2013 and the company had asked him to sign an agreement stating a no claim police and wait for agreement.

However, Anshu refused to sign the agreement making it all the more difficult for him to acquire the property. He had paid all dues amounting to around Rs 1 crore for a commercial property that he brought for personal use. However, Anshu is yet to inhabit his property.

"I had booked this property in 2008 and in 2013 I paid the entire money including stamp duty and registration charges. But despite that they did not give me possession of my property," he said. He added that he has been making frequent trips to get possession and the developer is taking advantage of his circumstances. "Such developers take the advantage of their might and our hard-earned money is lost. We still don't know how to get justice," he said.

Anshu even approached the consumer court but to no avail. The builders and developers of West Bengal have welcomed the Parliament's move.

"It is a very important legislation. For a long time we have been hearing about a lot of projects which are not getting completed. A lot of buyers are facing difficulties in getting possession and lack of transparency in many documentations. This is intended to address the whole issue. Developers will have to be more transparent and more upfront with their proposals and the buyers will also have the rights to certain grievance management or grievance redressal mechanisms in case certain things don't happen," said Harshvardhan Neotia, Chairman of Ambuja Neotia Group.

"Earlier, there was a feeling that it would be difficult when you have already built something on the basis of a super built-up area, how do you now talk about carpet area? Or for that matter how do you now put the money into a account act. But obviously that needs to be done and it is pretty understandable that buyers of those under-construction units also have to be given some protection. They have given some time for the builders to be able to come up and be able to comply with that. It is certainly not easy, but I am sure it is possible. The impact of the RERA will obviously be a positive one. The serious builders of the developer community will experience a good profit and the casual people will face difficulties. It will also be difficult for the people who failed to maintain," Neotia added.

But there are political layers also to dash the hopes by delaying the implementation in the state. Housing, Environment Minister of West Bengal and Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation Sovan Chatterjee explains the reasons, "It is not an easy job to implement the RERA in West Bengal because of the situation and circumstances of this place, which is changing very rapidly. There are certain complications if this act needs to be implemented worldwide. We are not overruling the RERA system. We have taken their suggestions and have also discussed this issue, where various people were invited who were interested for the implementation of RERA."

"It has also been discussed whether this act will be accommodated within the state law or the national law and we are still to decide and get into a conclusion. There are certain procedures which are inter-related which makes the act a bit hard to implement at this point. I am a part of the municipal board for thirty three years and I have experienced a lot which gives me a view that how difficult it is to implement this act, but we are definitely working on the process so that the act gets implemented soon. There is also a lot of legal procedures which needs to be followed and many cooperative and packaging systems at the same time. Unless the whole procedure gets sorted, we cannot conclude the whole fact. We are looking forward to implement the act but will it follow the RERA system or the RERA spirit of the system we don't know. We even need to look for the criteria of the West Bengal government and how does it match there," said Chatterjee.

Despite the change, people like Anshu Ruia who have spent more than the principal amount on fighting litigations continuing to wait. Ruia has said that moves like RERA have come as a ray of hope.

"I am looking forward to RERA because I have gone through the act which was passed and is really beneficial for consumers specially when there loopholes in consumer protection act which this developer took advantage of but they are very well covered in RERA," Anshu said.

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