Monday, 18 April 2016

Maharashtra government in quandary over housing act

The Maharashtra government had earlier referred both the state and central housing regulatory acts to its legal department for a decision on which of these two should be followed in Maharashtra. The state government itself, though, is of the opinion that the Maharashtra Housing (Regulation and Development) Act, 2012 which is more pro-consumer and stringent on developers should be followed over the central act.

"We are confused after the Centre recently approved its own act, and hence we decided to seek legal opinion before finalising things. We have been asked by the Centre to repeal the state act so that the central act can be enforced. But if we check both the central and state acts point by point, the state act is more powerful and adds more teeth to the consumer's cause," said a senior government official requesting anonymity.

He added that the Maharashtra Housing Regulatory Act is ready for implementation at a moment's notice. "We had also prepared the guidelines. If there is clarity that the state act should be followed, we will intimate the central housing department about our decision," the official said.

Ravindra Waikar, Maharshtra's housing minister, said that there are many provisions in the central act that have nothing to do with the state's housing industry. "Mumbai is a dynamic city which has its own individual issues, and the central act does not include various issues that pertain to Mumbai and Maharashtra. Therefore, we are primarily of the opinion that our state act should be retained. Many developers take buyers on a ride, so we have to protect the interests of the buyers and consumers over that of the developers," Waikar said.

Amin Patel, a Congress MLA and member of the joint select committee that has prepared the state bill, said that in the central act, there is no provision of deemed conveyance, which involves transferring the title of a plot of land or building. This has been made in the state act. "Conveyance is the major issue in Mumbai. There are many cases of developers who have developed a building, but are yet to make the conveyance even after 30 years of the project's completion. Without the conveyance, the redevelopment of these buildings will not take place. Therefore, we had included the provision of deemed conveyance so that many residents could benefit and redevelop their dilapidated buildings," Patel said.

Patel further said that there are 45,000 housing societies in Maharashtra that are still awaiting ownership of the title from the developers. "If we repeal the state act, then the developers will take advantage and throw out the existing residents from these buildings to make way for redevelopment. The central government act seems to be soft towards developers," Patel added. He said that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis should write to the Centre asking for the state housing act to be implemented in Maharshtra.

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