Over 170 bankers, MNC professionals, financial sector employees and diamond traders, who booked apartments in RNA Address five years ago, are in a state of anxiety.
Some of them moved the National Consumer Court last year, seeking their money back with interest from the builder, RNA Corp. But a legal case can take years to settle and the purchasers say their finances are stretched.
The builder has blamed the municipal corporation for its January 2012 policy, which imposes a huge premium for extra areas—it said this levy is illegal, invalid and arbitrary because the Kalina project was cleared years before the new policy came into force.
The builder has already sold more than half of the 294 apartments and believed to have collected over Rs 200 crore as initial booking amounts from the clients.
The project comprises seven 13-storey towers on a 3.5 acre plot near the Mumbai University complex in Kalina. Many of the buyers work in the nearby Bandra Kurla Complex and this project was considered ideal for its proximity to this business district.
Builder Anubhav Aggarwal of RNA Group told media it’s in his interest to complete the project. “I am a victim myself because of bureaucratic delays,” he said, blaming the BMC for the delay.
Claiming that his firm had invested substantial money in the project, Aggarwal said he had already procured civil aviation and environmental permissions, and paid Rs 21 crore as premium to the state housing authority (Mhada). “We are planning to drag BMC to court,” he said.
However, one of the aggrieved flat buyers debunked the builder’s claim: “He has been telling us such stories since 2014 and imploring us to give him two weeks, two months. Blaming the BMC is just a ploy.”
The promised delivery deadline was mid-to-end 2014, but nearly two-thirds of the work is still pending. Construction of the towers stopped in April 2013 at the third slab because RNA initially claimed it did not have the requisite permission.
None of the purchasers wanted to be identified for this story as they feared a backlash. “Initially, RNA officials brushed off the delay, blaming bureaucratic lethargy. Later they talked about a larger malaise in the civic approving authorities that no builder was receiving permissions. They continued making false promises of permissions almost received and construction to begin within three months,” they said.
A service professional who booked a flat in February 2011 said he had already paid Rs 1.60 crore for a 3 BHK apartment. “Since 2013 I have been chasing them, but getting only false assurances. My family is really concerned since we are paying Rs one lakh a month for our rental accommodation.”
A woman who booked a flat with her husband, said, “The builder projected a rosy picture and pursued us to invest here six years ago. We paid Rs 2.45 crore, but now they do not respond to our emails. Where do we go? What do we do?”
Among those affected are 14 residents of Siddesh society, a Mhada building, which was demolished by the builder in 2010 as part of the redevelopment project. “Since March 2015, rental cheques have frequently bounced and since October last, the builder stopped paying rent,” said a member.
Credits ET Realty