Will the experience of Campa Cola compound flat owners be a lesson to apartment owners in Bengaluru? The Akrama Sakrama scheme is creating havoc. Every builder flouts the sanctioned plan with impunity and there is no one to check. Eventually, the flat buyer suffers while the builder and corrupt officials profit from the illegality.
The impression created by Akrama Sakrama is that illegality will be condoned later and therefore builders continue to build illegal structures and lure buyers. Most buyers trust the promises of builders and some, who know better, go ahead and buy believing that Akrama Sakrama will take care of the violations.
The trick is to get people to occupy the building as an insurance against demolition. The under-construction building that collapsed in Mumbai had families living in them free of rent just for this reason. This situation is unfortunate when the Government and BBMP have all the powers to prevent it, if only they follow the procedure already laid down:
- BBMP (or other plan approving authority) should not accept applications for Plan Approval unless the land use permits such building. If the land is prescribed for other use (agriculture, residential etc.), approval of the competent authority (BDA, BMRDA or similar authority) must be a pre-requisite for plan approval. This should not require even an order from the Government or BBMP higher ups. After all, how can a government department sanction building plan when the prescribed land use prohibits such buildings on a land?
- Builder should not be allowed to take bookings for apartments before issuance of Commencement Certificate by competent authority (BBMP etc.). This may require amendment to law by the State Government.
- The Apartment becomes a saleable property only after the Occupancy Certificate is issued by the competent authority (BBMP etc.) Before that the whole property is a single unit and the building is not recognised as a collection of separate apartments. Registration Departments should be instructed to register sale deeds of apartments only after verifying the occupancy certificate. This one step will go a long way to protect customer interests.
- BESCOM (or other electricity supply co.) should not give Electricity Connection till occupancy certificate is issued by competent authority.
- Customers who book their flats at the time of launching of the project or any time before issuance of Occupancy certificate, should be given a Bank Guarantee by the builder for an amount equivalent to the agreed price of the flat or the actual amount paid by the customer. The Bank Guarantee can be invoked at the discretion of the customer any time after expiry of 6 months (or whatever) from the date of agreed date of delivery of possession, the only consequence to the customer being cancellation of the allotment of flat booked by him/her. This is to safeguard the interests of the customer in cases of the builder flouting the building norms and thus fails to get occupancy certificate.
- The Bank Guarantee also should cover the rent for flat over and above the agreed delivery date. Builders may argue that these provisions will push up the prices of apartments. Considering the amount believed to be spent by the builders to bribe several officials of several departments, this should actually reduce the cost of apartments. If officials have no discretion to approve something unless prescribed parameters are complied with, there will be no need to bribe officials. Cost of bank guarantee cannot be more than the money spent on bribes and therefore cost should not go up. Even if it does go up, it is still worth it. Peace of mind and secure future do not come cheap.
Except for the requirement of Bank Guarantee and perhaps for banning pre-launch bookings, everything else can be achieved by simple administrative instructions by the Government. This should go a long way to protect interests of the customers and also free genuine builders from a lot of hassles.