“GHMC unauthorized construction”. This phrase, painted in red across walls, has become a common sight along the city’s posh IT corridor, now a fast growing hub of illegal residential complexes. And while buyers previously steered clear of such projects, it doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.
Reasons: cheaper prices and confidence of no ‘official action’. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) records show that a mere 60 ‘ongoing’ illegal constructions have been demolished in the West Zone since the process of receiving applications for BPS (Building Penalization Scheme) and LRS (Layout Regularization Scheme) was completed in March this year. The existing number of such projects runs into lakhs. “I was informed by my friend, a long-time resident of Hyderabad, that many buildings in my area are illegal constructions. It was then that I enquired about the same and found that the apartment I was planning to buy was also illegal. However, when I took up the issue with the builder, he said that although most buildings in that area fell under the same category, there was no risk of demolition,” said Ramesh Reddy*. He now owns a 1,250 sq ft two-bedroom apartment, worth a little over Rs 37 lakh, located within walking distance from the RTO office in Kondapur.
Similarly, Deepak Mehta* is enjoying the comforts of a sprawling three-bedroom villa in Gachibowli for a ‘modest’ rent of Rs 56,000, which would otherwise draw no less than Rs 80,000 a month. “The owner, who lives abroad, assured me that the project will be regularized very soon. In the meantime, any legal hurdles will be handled by him without causing any inconvenience to me. The villa is very convenient in terms of price and is also located in the heart of the IT hub,” Mehta said.
Urban planning expert Anant Maringanti attributes this trend to a nexus between developers and municipal officials. “An illegal construction saves money, both for the builder and the buyer. While the builder cuts corners, the buyer gets the apartment or building for a price that is slightly lower than the prevailing market value. Even in cases where the buyer discovers it is an illegal construction after paying the amount, there isn’t much to be done as most builders are well-connected and can even go to the extent of using muscle power to silence the buyer,” he said.
A real estate consultant, on condition of anonymity, confi rmed this. “Illegal constructions are a thriving business, especially in the West Zone. Out of 100 illegal constructions that sprout in the city every month, nearly 90 are located in this zone. A few areas ridden with them are Raghavendra Nagar Colony in Kondapur and colonies located behind Chirec Public School in Kondapur. Nearly 50% of all buildings along the MadhapurHi-Tec City stretch are also unauthorized constructions. Buyers and builders have now become confident that the building will be legalized either by paying a bribe to the municipal level inspectors or once the state government rolls out another round of BPS and LRS applications, he said.
While not denying the surge in illegal occupancies, Devender Reddy, chief city planner of GHMC, referred to a pending proposal, which once in effect, would drastically reduce the number of people buying or renting such houses.
“About three months ago, we submitted a proposal to the state government to make amendments to the Registration Act. Once that happens, it may not be as easy for illegal constructions to thrive in the city as all documents, including approval certificates issued by the municipal corporation, will need to be submitted by an individual. However, since this requires an act to be amended, it could be a while before it comes into effect. It has already been done in Tamil Nadu,” he said.
(* Some names changed on request)
Credits ET Realty