The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in its manifesto unveiled on March 21, has promised that it will implement the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act to allow “seamless real estate development” and create a “standardized and transparent framework” for the buyers.
“We will implement the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act to allow seamless real estate development and create a standardized and transparent framework for the buyer,” the manifesto said.
West Bengal is the only state in the country that has not accepted RERA, which came into effect on May 1, 2017, exactly a year after it had been passed by the Parliament. It has implemented its own act titled West Bengal Housing & Industrial Regulation Act 2017 (WB-HIRA).
The Forum for People’s Collective Efforts (FPCE), an umbrella homebuyers association, earlier appealed to the BJP to declare in their party manifesto for the upcoming West Bengal elections that they would repeal WB-HIRA if they formed the government in the state.
“We have managed to convey our concern to BJP with regard to both compromise in homebuyers’ interest and threat to RERA from WB-HIRA. This inclusion in manifesto shows that the party is committed to RERA and going forward we can now expect that the government at the Centre will do whatever is needed to ensure its effective implementation at pan India level,” Abhay Upadhyay, president FPCE and member, Central Advisory Council, RERA, MoHUA told Moneycontrol.
In November 2019, the central government announced a Rs 25,000-crore SWAMIH Investment Fund to help complete over 1,500 stalled housing projects, including those that have been declared non-performing assets (NPAs) or had been admitted for insolvency proceedings. The move is likely to help 4.58 lakh housing units across the country. Only RERA-registered projects with a positive net worth will be provided funds.
The SWAMIH fund, set up by the central government to provide last mile funding for stuck projects, is not applicable in the state as the Central RERA Act has not been implemented.
“Needless to say, people of West Bengal have high expectations from your party since RERA became Act under the Namo-1 Government, after a delay of eight years under the UPA rule. It’s also important to mention that home buyers of West Bengal are also suffering due to the fact that Central Government funding scheme for delayed real estate projects under SWAMIH scheme is not applicable to West Bengal as the state is not implementing RERA,” FPCE said in a letter addressed to Kailash Vijayvargiya, the BJP’s in-charge for West Bengal.
The delegation headed by Abhay Upadhyay, met BJP’s Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the party’s in-charge of five Lok Sabha constituencies for the upcoming election in West Bengal, over the weekend and handed over their letter to him in March.
The Supreme Court, in July 2019, directed the West Bengal government to respond to FPCE’s petition challenging the constitutional validity of WB-HIRA. The matter is pending before the SC for final hearing.
“Government of West Bengal is altogether following a different path,” FPCE said in the letter.
“WB-HIRA is a watered-down version of RERA brought under the influence of developers and thus is against the interest of homebuyers. It also is an assault on the powers of the Union to make laws on issues mentioned in the Concurrent List of the Constitution. WB-HIRA is defeating the whole purpose of having one central legislation to have a uniform law pan India.”
“The first is to do with the force majeure clause or unforeseen circumstances under which a builder may not fulfil conditions laid down under the contract signed with the homebuyers. RERA clearly lays down the circumstances of force majeure such as war, flood, drought, fire, cyclone, earthquake or any other natural calamity. HIRA has made an addition to this clause and talks about ‘…any other circumstances as may be prescribed’. This is a major dilution.”
Sale of open space as a garage or parking area was an issue dealt under RERA. HIRA has interpreted it differently. RERA defines garage to mean a place within a project that has a roof and walls on three sides for parking any vehicle but it does not include unenclosed or uncovered parking area, especially open parking. HIRA, on the other hand, states that car parking area means such an area as may be prescribed and defined garage to mean garage and parking space as sanctioned by the competent authority.