EVERY RESIDENT of City Beautiful wants to own a house. But with limited land left in the city, homes constructed and sold by the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) are the only option left with most of the people. After coming into being in 1976, CHB has so far constructed around 1.50 lakh dwelling units in different categories and around 5,000 commercial sites spread across 15 sectors in the city, including sectors 29, 38 (West), 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 47 and 63, and Modern Housing Complex, Dhanas and Maloya. With no private developers in Chandigarh, thanks to rigid norms of the Chandigarh Administration, CHB has gained monopoly in private housing and has developed a lackluster attitude.
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Over the years, chasing the dream of owning a house has proved a nightmare for allottees, especially in the case of the Sector 63 housing scheme, the last project of the board, due to delay and poor quality of construction. Not only that, around 10 FIRs have been registered by the Chandigarh Police for fraudulent transactions of flats in the last five years. For the consumers, things are likely to change for the better with the formation of temporary Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), which is yet to be notified.
The Chandigarh Administration has formed the authority with UT finance secretary-cum-secretary housing as its head. The permanent authority headed by a retired high court judge will be constituted in April next year. Local BJP chief Sanjay Tandon feels that CHB will have to streamline its functioning as it will be under the scanner of RERA. “Consumers will get a forum for quick redressal of their grievances,” said Tandon.
How things will change for CHB
Earlier, for any deficiency of service on the part of the board, the allottees could only approach the consumer dispute forum. Now the allottees have an option of approaching RERA that has to give its decision in 60 days. The board is coming up with 200 two-bedroom flats housing scheme in Sector 51, which is surrounded with controversy pertaining to floating the scheme without having the entire land earmarked for the project in its possession. In future, the board intends to build around 500 flats of various categories in Sector 53 and around 31,500 flats in Sector 54.
Before starting the construction of Sector 51 scheme, CHB will have to get the project registered with RERA after paying the required fee. The board will have to submit its audited balance sheet and a copy of legal title deed reflecting the land on which the society is being developed. It will also have to disclose details of any encumbrances on the land.
A total of 4.48 acres of land has been earmarked for the project. However, around 1 acre is in the possession of two saw mill-and-furniture shops, which have been running their business from the same premises since 1988. The owners of both the mills are in court against the Chandigarh Administration for their rehabilitation. For the benefit of allottees, all the details regarding the project — financial, project plans, development plans, status of mandatory approvals, consultants, architects — will be published on the official website of the authority. The board will also have to disclose its ongoing projects.
To ensure that the project is going as per schedule, the board will have to upload status of construction of each building, floor and internal infrastructure with photographs from time to time. Unlike in its previous schemes, the board will not be able to make additions/alterations in the sanctioned plans, layout plans, specifications of fixtures, fittings and other amenities without consent of the allottees. In case of delay in projects, the board will now be required to refund or pay compensation to the allottees with an interest rate of 12 per cent within 45 days of its becoming due.
The rules provide for punishment with imprisonment for violation of the orders of Real Estate Appellate Tribunal. City-based advocate Ajay Jagga, who deals with real-estate cases, said: “It’s a well-rounded Act and will go a long way in safeguarding interest of consumers.” He said that earlier, government builders like CHB were not being held accountable for deficiencies of service.