THE CHANDIGARH Housing Board (CHB) was formed to provide affordable and quality housing to the residents of India’s first planned city. That mandate, under strain for many years, now lies buried under the Sector 51 Housing scheme. Each flat in the scheme costs Rs 69 lakh, excluding other charges, making it the most expensive scheme to date. The rate is more than double the two-bedroom flat price (Rs 32 lakh) in the Sector 63 housing scheme, the last project of the board, and more than the going rate of housing in India’s metros for comparable locations.
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Each flat will cost around Rs 55 lakh, leaving the board with a healthy profit of around Rs 14 lakh. Apart from Rs 69 lakh, each allottee will have to pay 3 per cent of the total amount for deed of conveyance, 4.5 per cent service tax, 15 per cent for getting the flat transferred in his name and Rs 1 lakh as security and Rs 50,000 which is to be deposited in the account of the Residents’ Welfare Association for maintenance/operation of common areas and common services and ground rent at the rate of 0.25 per cent per annum of the price of the dwelling unit, which will increase by 0.25 per cent per annum after every 10 years. For a flat, an allottee will end up paying around Rs 75 lakh, excluding interest of bank loan.
It is due to over-pricing that there are no takers for around 25 flats out of the 186 allotted. This is for the first time that the board is struggling to sell its dwelling units. Kamaljit Singh Panchi, advisor of the Chandigarh Federation of Property Dealers, maintains that the flats which fall under middle income group (MIG) are over-priced. “The board over priced the flats, which are leasehold. The board is acting like a private developer,” said Panchi. Former MP and senior Congress leader Pawan Kumar Bansal, who has been very vocal against CHB, alleges that the board is not working for the welfare of city residents. “Against the mandate, the board has over-priced its dwelling units,” he said.
He urged the board to focus on making more houses in the categories of economically weaker section (EWS) and low income group (LIG). “There are many people who don’t have a house of their own and are living in rented accommodations in the city,” said Bansal. While giving reasons for fixing high price for the flats, CHB chairman Maninder Singh claims that they will use the profit generated from the scheme in funding the next housing schemes which will be for LIG and EWS categories. For EWS, the tentative cost of a two-bed room flat will be Rs 10 lakh and Rs 20 lakh for LIG.
Board safeguarding its own interest
CHB has framed the agreement for the Sector 51 scheme keeping in mind its own interest. As per the agreement, if an allottee fails to take over possession of flat within 60 days of issuance of the allotment letter, then he will be liable to pay holding charges at the rate of Rs 10 per square feet per month. If there is delay on part of the allottee in making full payment, then they will be charged an interest at the rate of 12 per cent per month, whereas if there is a delay on the part of the board in giving possession of flats in time, CHB will be liable only to pay interest at the rate of 4 per cent per annum. There is no clause of compensation in case of any deficiency in service.
The board also reserves the right of making changes in the number of units to be constructed without assigning any reason. Unhappy with the one-sided clauses incorporated in the agreement, J S Chaudhary, a successful applicant who surrendered his flat, said: “The board has taken full payment from the allottees and has not given them any relaxation. They don’t even have a clause of compensation.” Chaudhary insists that even private builders take payments in instalments. “The board has incorporated a clause keeping in view their own interest. With RERA coming into force, we hope they will make changes,” said S D Rattan, another allottee.
The board has also been at the receiving end for poor quality of construction. There have been many complaints from the residents of dwelling units, especially rehabilitation colonies. The Sector 63 house scheme was marred by controversies surrounding quality of construction material. The matter is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation. “Fixtures and fittings are sub-standard, forcing people to replace them at their cost,” said Manish Bhardwaj, one of the allottees of 63 housing scheme. CHB chairman Maninder Singh assures that the allottees of the upcoming housing schemes will get flats of the best quality.