Buyers of the public housing project in Powai were in for a rude shock recently when the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) slapped them with notices informing them of a 43 per cent hike in the price of apartments to be paid within three months.
Most of the 110 families,who won the ready-for-possession 700 sq ft two-bedroom apartments during MHADAs draw of lots in May 2011,have already paid the total amount of Rs 34.75 lakh earlier this year. The notices sent to buyers over the past one month stated that the price has now been revised to Rs 49.83 lakh. All buyers have been asked to pay the additional Rs 15.08 lakh over the next 90 days or risk forfeiting the house.
While there were murmurs about a price hike over the past three months,MHADAs recent salvo has triggered panic among buyers,most of whom are not eligible for a higher loan from banks.
My husband and I are government employees and it will be not possible for us to get additional loan from the bank. We have already paid the entire sum to MHADA in January this year and all this while,we were told that the possession is delayed as the project hasnt got an occupation certificate yet, said Madhuri Kumbhare,who has started paying her EMIs even as she is shelling out a monthly rent for her current accommodation.
Buyers are miffed as the notice unapologetically stated that MHADA has the right to revise the rates and gave no explanation for the sudden hike. We had to ask for the reason under the Right to Information Act only to be told that there has been a cost escalation, said Kumbhare,who refuses to buy the escalation argument especially because at the time of calling for applications last year the flats were ready. I thought I was lucky to have bagged a house close to Hirananadi Complex in Powai. But now it has turned out to be my misfortune.
Buyers have now got together and are bracing themselves for a long-drawn legal battle.
Another buyer Satish Sonavane has no choice but to raise at least Rs 10 lakh as his modest salary as an electrical engineer doesnt entitle him to a higher loan.
The bank has already disbursed the entire amount to MHADA long ago. Now,the authority says we will be eligible for a 45-day extension to pay up,but at the cost of coughing up 13.5 per cent interest, he said.
Buyers pointed out that the notice doesnt mention a word about MHADA returning the money along with an interest in case they are unable to pay the excess amount.
MHADA vice-president Satish Gavai said he recently instructed officials to give buyers a reasonable time to make the payment.
Dismissing the earlier version that the hike is owing to cost escalation,he said,It was an honest mistake in calculation. We realised it only when we were preparing for the 2012 lottery that the actual prices of the Powai apartments work out to be far greater. If they are not able to pay up,it is too bad but MHADA cannot take a hit, he said.