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AREA CHECK: LUDHIANA

Unkept promises dash homebuyers’ dreams

26 May 2018 | 1:00 AM

The industrial hub of Punjab is well known for investors with deep pockets and a robust property market.

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Harshraj Singh

The industrial hub of Punjab is well known for investors with deep pockets and a robust property market. But all is not hunky dory on the real estate front in one of the richest cities in the state. With a number of residential projects missing completion deadline over the past couple of years, buyers are concerned about their investments. Even in the cases where possessions have been handed over, builders concerned have failed to provide promised facilities to the homebuyers.

A city-based professional had booked his Coral floor flat at Ireo Waterfront Ludhiana in 2013. He is waiting to get possession of his flat, even after a lapse of five years. “The developer had promised to hand over the flat by March 2017. But the flat is still incomplete. When I contacted the Ireo staff with my grievance, they suggested that I should buy a Villa in the same project by paying Rs 10 lakh more. They are not ready to refund the amount paid by me. It is sheer harassment”, he lamented.

Another buyer in the same project told that his flat was to be handed over by December 2017 but he has not heard anything from the developer till now. “The company people have assured me now that my flat would be ready by June”, he said.

Delayed projects is not the only grievance that buyers in the city have, developers here have also done a volte face in providing the much-publicised amenities in residential projects. Some property and flats owners at Vipul World on Ferozepur Road claimed that society club and swimming pool had not been constructed in the project as was promised in the beginning.

Sunil Bharadwaj, who owns plots at Vipul World, said, “Buyers had been requesting the builder to construct a boundary wall, swimming pool and society club”. Another flat owner at Vipul World said, “When we were given possession of the flat around three years ago, we were assured that a society club would be constructed but nothing has been done so far. Besides, there is no facility of swimming pool. They charge nearly Rs 10,000 for maintenance (including security, garbage lifting and other charges) every three months. We are not satisfied with the security arrangements. Now, we are planning to move consumer forum as promised facilities have not been provided by the builder.”

Government out, private players in

The population of Ludhiana city, which is to be developed as one of the 100 smart cities in the country, has crossed 17.50 lakh mark, but the successive state governments have failed to introduce any new urban estate or colony here for the past two decades. Thus, buyers looking for a house in the primary market are mostly dependent on projects launched by private players. In 1970s, 1980s, 1990s  government used to plan, execute, sell new colonies on city peripheries through the local bodies departments like Ludhiana Improvement Trust and PUDA, among others.

In Ludhiana, Kitchlu Nagar, Rishi Nagar, Sarabha Nagar, Bhai Randhir Singh (BRS) Nagar, Rajguru Nagar, SBS Nagar, Urban Estate Dugri, Sector 32, 33, 39 were developed by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust or PUDA. All these open and spacious developments were done by government departments.

The Ludhiana Improvement Trust had launched Atal Apartment scheme in 2016, but the project could not see the light of day. As construction of flats was never started, allottees had sought refund from the government. Later, the project under which 11-storey green residential complexes were to be constructed over 8.80 acres near Shaheed Karnail Singh Nagar was scrapped completely. Now, Ludhiana Improvement Trust is planning to reintroduce the Atal Apartments project, said Trust engineer, Boota Ram.

“Many years ago the role os private players/developers was negligible and people used to get excellent results with fully developed surroundings that included wide roads, water supply, sewage disposal, rain water disposal, electricity, commercial areas etc from government departments. But, this is not happening in Ludhiana for the past two decades approximately”, Sanjay Goel, one of the directors at Ludhiana Smart City Limited and Chairman of the Indian Institute of Architects Punjab chapter, said.

“Many private colonisers have entered Ludhiana property market in the past decade. But unfortunately, a majority of these were local players with very small plots. Moreover, the fact that they did not have proper approvals for residential projects made the matters worse for the buyers. The government should plan things 10-20 years in advance, but here the government is usually much behind schedule”, he said.

 Ludhiana is also plagued by the unauthorised-colony disease that is spread all over Punjab. This illegal-colony malaise is so widely spread that for buyers like 32-year-old Gaganpreet Singh, it is a Herculean task to know the difference between a legal and an illegal colony as government authorities have failed to guide buyers. Local colonisers sell plots to buyers at prices lower than those offered by bigger private builders, and gullible buyers actually end up paying a heavy price for these investments later on. 

According to sources at Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA), there are over 1,400 illegal colonies in Ludhiana district alone. Besides, there is no check on mushrooming new illegal colonies in city as well as outside MC’s jurisdiction. These ‘fly-by night’ colonisers sell plots and then disappear from the scene leaving buyers in the lurch.  “I don’t want to purchase a flat that’s why I am looking for a plot. The government should develop urban estates so that the buyers would not be forced to purchase plots at illegal colonies being introduced by many local colonisers”, says Gaganpreet.

“If the state government works like the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), etc. then it can earn revenue too by launching new projects. Punjab government must plan and sell high-rise flats like in other metro cities”, added Goel.


Developers’ response

  • Replying to the queries regarding delay in handing over the possession of flats,  Vivek Kumar, who deals in customer care at Ireo Waterfront, said, “The construction work at Coral floors flats is underway. The possession of flats would be given within the next two months. We would pay compensation of Rs 7.50 per square feet per month to the buyer if the project gets delayed.”
  • Amandeep Singh at marketing wing of Vipul World, said, “We have sold a majority of plots at Vipul World. Out of 550 plots, only 47 are unsold as of now. However, the buyers have not started construction work on their plots. Once the people start constructing their houses, we would also ensure that the facility of the society club and swimming pool is added. We have made requisite security arrangements. The allegations regarding security arrangements are baseless.”
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