Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Goa real estate regulator not in sight

Agitations in Goa are currently at a new high. The construction lobby is in recoil mode and is currently squatting in an uneasy suspense. Megaprojects has become a weird word. After obtaining all licences with all methods possible, there is  another recent roadblock and its proving to be more than a handful. Opposition from the locals of Goa.

People in Goa have begun agitations against almost everything concerning real estate and post the regional plan scrapping, agitations have taken a new turn and unless the government brings in a credible regulator to regulate the real estate industry, this kind of lawlessness is likely to prevail in Goa for a long time. One wonders why the government of Goa is so reluctant to introduce a regulator for this industry.

In fact the entire country seems to be at a loss to understand why there is no regulator for such a industry in which the builder and real estate lobby is having a field day. Anything and everything that a builder does is law on its own and there is no one to ask him/her after obtaining the necessary permissions either diligently or fraudulently. It therefore seems that the power exerted by this lobby is so profound that the government is deliberately restraining itself from introducing the regulator.

Rules are flouted every day in Goa by the builder lobby and the consumer is left to either accept whatever a builder does or take recourse to courts which involves litigations which run for years or decades due to which the litigants are often discouraged to approach the courts and often abandon the case leaving the builder at an extreme advantage.

Something which should have been taken care of by the regulator by stamping its authority over the discrepancies of the builder is currently made to be borne by the common man in Goa and this is the real anti-people policy which the every government in Goa has silently but consciously been nursing. Some of the most common problems faced by consumers who buy or book real estate premises are as under

(1) In case of brokers there is no regulation. Any person without any exposure to the industry and with no knowledge of property matters or documentation is currently a flourishing broker in Goa - this has made the buyer a sacrificial lamb in many cases and could be duped with the broker washing off his hands in the matter. Main Cause: Lack of knowledge or even if knowledge is available concealing knowledge is not a directly punishable offence as of now as the broker is only a facilitator and not a party to the transaction.

(2) Failure of builders in completing projects on time as per agreement made with buyers and therefore no compensation allowed to buyers even after payment of installments on schedule.

(3) Measurement of area has been a yardstick that builders have flouted to their own advantage. Built-up, super-built up, super super built up, extra super built up and whatever they build up in their agreement seems to be the law and  while the customer pays for 100 sq m of area he/she has to stay happy with an actual 80 sq m of carpet area and there are no answers to the mathematics involved. The builder is the King and the final authority on all matters.

(4) FAR and its interpretation is something that only builders know.There are certain provisions for parking, childrens' play area, social house etc for certain number of residents but due to ignorance of the customer these are never granted in accordance with the provisions. Who is going to bell the cat?

(5) There is currently nil accountability for the work undertaken by a builder and after taking possession of the premises, if there are leakages, cracks etc the consumer is at a loss and the builder uses his own prerogative to repair the faults rendering the consumer completely frustrated and clueless about his rights.

(6) The cost per unit of real estate is something that the builder lobby decides as per market demand rather than as per regulations. These rates are in complete disparity with government rates and the resulting comparisons are a big joke. Compensations for land losers are a pittance and the same land losers cannot afford to buy a similar residence given the disparity. Who is to blame for this if not the government?

(7) For every project there ought to be a clear cut provision for garbage disposal especially in areas under panchayat jurisdiction since such areas do not have garbage management at all. Also provision for adequate additional water resources and electricity needs to be the duty of the builder. Burdening the existing infrastructure with an additional burden of residents as a fallout of megaprojects is the main cause of agitations in Goa. And no one has the will to introduce regulation.

These are a few prominent areas where builders continuously default in their duties towards the clients and unless a regulator is introduced Goa and Goans will be continuously abused. Will the government act or continue to sleep blissfully?

Xittuk Goencar

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