Residents of L&T South City in Bangalore have taken their fight against their residential complex’s builder L&T, and original landowner Dinesh Ranka, to the open. On April 1, about one thousand residents from the apartment complex assembled in Freedom Park and held a demonstration against L&T and Ranka. Court cases are already going on between the apartment owners’ association SUGRUHA, L & T and Ranka.
The issue is that L&T and Ranka had relinquished 12 acres of land within the 34-acre apartment complex to the BDA, without the knowledge of residents. The 12 acres – which includes a park and a 60-feet road – was shown as residents’ property in the sale deed, but was in fact handed over to BDA.
Residents say that they held a public demonstration as the court cases were getting delayed and L&T was not ready for negotiations. L&T still does not recognise SUGRUHA as the apartment owners’ association. The maintenance deposits collected from residents have not been handed over to SUGRUHA, which in turn claims massive fund misappropriation by L&T.
Residents expect that their show of strength might elicit a response from L&T and create awareness among public about ongoing issues. "There should be public opinion about the company’s faulty policies. This is the only way their brand name would be affected," says R Rajagopalan, Vice-President of SUGRUHA.
While it was mostly a silent protest, a skit was enacted on how the residents were ‘cheated’ by L&T and Ranka. Children also participated in the protest. "The latest issue is regarding the leveling of playground for children’s use. So we wanted to make children a focus of the protests as well," says Suneeth Kumar T V, Vice-President of SUGRUHA. "Many apartment complexes have similar problems, but they don’t speak out about it. We thought of starting a campaign and hope other communities will follow suit," says Suneeth.
L&T has refused to acknowledge the protests. D K Narang, Vice President (ECC Division) at L&T, says that they were not informed of the protests. "We have not done anything illegal, so why should we negotiate with residents? We will wait for the court order and follow it. Our reputation has been built over the years and one case will not affect it," he says.
But residents are hoping to see some action soon – either through court verdicts or L&T’s co-operation.