Unitech faces heat as home owners' activism against builders returns

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 26, 2013 04:22 hrs

Following yet another case of apartment owners raising their voice against builders, a district court has restrained real estate firm Unitech from carrying out further construction at the site of its luxury project, Nirvana South Close, worth around Rs 250 crore, in Gurgaon. The issue over which the apartment owners' association went to court relates to building a certain number of flats for the economically weaker section (EWS), as mandated by the government.

In an order on Saturday, the Gurgaon District Court said, since "the building plan for shifting location (houses for EWS) has not been sanctioned and the construction for the same has started, the defendants (Unitech) are restrained from undertaking any construction of EWS at a location that is not approved by DTCP (Directorate of Town and Country Planning) and further restrained from undertaking any construction viz a viz towers 1, 2 and 3, including but not limited to fencing, till the final disposal of the suit." The next hearing has now been scheduled for March 20.

The suit was filed by the Apartment Owners Association (AOA), seeking an order of injuction against Unitech on the ground that without completing the construction of the houses for the EWS on the area earmarked for them, Unitech could not be allowed to construct the next phase of Nirvana South Close, to come up with more than 100 apartments priced above Rs 2 crore. Also, the company had changed the location of EWS houses without taking permission from competent authorities, AOA contended.

Since the matter was sub judice, Unitech declined to comment.

The streak of activism by apartment owners had earlier come into prominence when an association of home buyers at a high-end DLF complex in Gurgaon had moved the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in 2011, alleging the realtor's monopoly in that area. The Competition Appellate Tribunal is now hearing that case. Many apartment owners had filed cases over the past year or so against several builders, including Hiranandani Infrastructure & Real Estate, Omaxe and Raheja Developers, on issues of monopoly and biased buyer-builder pacts. However, CCI had subsequently dismissed most of those cases.

In August 2011, CCI had imposed a penalty of Rs 630 crore on DLF after its inquiries into complaints made by flat-buyers' associations of two DLF projects in Gurgaon �" DLF Park Palace and The Belaire �" alleging delays in the project and increase in the number of floors than earlier planned, among other things.

DLF had, however, got a stay. At present, the case is with Compat and the next hearing is slated for March 20. In January, CCI had passed an order amending flat buyers' agreement for DLF's The Belaire. This was later extended to the company's two other projects " Park Place and Magnolia " through separate orders.

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