Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Cabinet defers approval to real estate bill

The Cabinet on Wednesday deferred the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Bill, which seeks to ensure consumer protection, establishing regulatory bodies at Centre and states for ethical and transparent business practices in the real estate sector. Sources said the housing ministry has been asked to review the bill to explore how it can be made more consumer-friendly and to have better provisions for promotion of low-cost housing. 

Low-cost housing and roof to all have been identified as a focus area by the Narendra Modi government and it has promised shelter to all by 2022. TOI has learnt that there was also a suggestion during the Cabinet meeting that the provisions relating to Centre-state issues need to be made clearer in the bill. 

Government has included the bill as one of the legislations for passage during the current session of Parliament. The bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha last August and referred to the parliamentary standing committee. Though the committee had made several recommendations particularly in favour of consumers and greater check on unscrupulous developers, the housing ministry has rejected most of them. 

These include checking the antecedents of project promoters before their registration is done, and ensuring that developers who have defaulted in two earlier cases be blacklisted. But the ministry rejected this arguing that such a provision will work as a deterrent for the sector. Similarly, the panel had suggested the promoters be made to enclose names of contractors, architects and structural engineers, which was also turned down. The panel had also recommended all real estate agents involved in sale of secondary market projects also need to be regulated. But this was not accepted. 

Nevertheless, there are also several provisions in the revised bill to protect the consumer's interest. This included the condition that prohibits a developer to change the plan in a project unless 2/3rd of the allottees have concurred for such change. This has reference to recent cases in Noida where a developer had changed plans and built towers to increase economic viability without taking buyers into confidence. 

Earlier the housing ministry's move to allow builders to divert up to 50% of buyers' investment for a specific project to other projects had come under criticism. The original bill had mandated the developer to put 70% of the buyers' investment to an escrow account to be used only for construction of that project. 

TOI on November 25 had reported how the real estate lobby was trying hard to push for this dilution.

Source: The Times of India



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