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Property buyers in West Bengal at mercy of builders as RERA still not made functional: Homebuyers body FPCE

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NEW DELHI, Dec 4 (PTI): Homebuyers’ association FPCE on Sunday urged the West Bengal government to make the real estate law RERA functional in the state at the earliest to protect the consumers’ interest.

In May last year, the Supreme Court struck down the West Bengal government’s law WBHIRA for regulating the real estate sector, saying it was “unconstitutional”.

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The state government introduced the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulatory Act (WBHIRA) as a substitute for the central law RERA, which was passed by Parliament in 2016. The apex court’s ruling came on a plea filed by the Forum For People’s Collective Efforts (FPCE), an umbrella body of homebuyers. The FPCE has played an important role in the enactment and implementation of RERA.

FPCE president Abhay Upadhyay said it has been the association’s endeavour to ensure that RERA is implemented in its letter and spirit across India. With the objective to have one law across India for the entire real estate sector, he said the Supreme Court, in its writ petition, declared WBHIRA as unconstitutional on May 4, 2021.

“Since then we have been making an all-out effort to ensure that RERA becomes fully functional in West Bengal but very sadly, despite all our efforts including approaching the chief minister, RERA is still not functional in West Bengal…,” Upadhyay rued.

He pointed out that ‘West Bengal Real Estate Regulatory Authority’ and ‘West Bengal Real Estate Appellate Tribunal’ have not been made functional in the state.

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Also, Upadhyay said the appointment of chairperson and members of the regulatory authority as well as the Appellate Tribunal has not been done. The prevailing situation has allowed builders to escape the regulatory framework, compromising with transparency and accountability as envisaged under RERA, the FPCE president said.

“While the homebuyers of other states in India have the protection of RERA, homebuyers of West Bengal continue to suffer at the hands of builders for no fault of theirs,” he observed.

Upadhyay appealed to the government of West Bengal to immediately take steps for ensuring a fully functional RERA, to protect homebuyers interest and also bring transparency as well as accountability in the sector.

Upadhyay, who is also a member of central advisory committee, RERA, had written a letter on August 16 to the chief minister over the long wait for implementation of The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) in West Bengal.

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The association said that the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has taken up the issue of the implementation of RERA in West Bengal.

The state government was asked to expedite the formation of regulatory authority and appellate tribunal, the statement said.

In the case of the state of West Bengal, FPCE said a delegation led by economic advisor (housing), MoHUA, Dinesh Kapila along with FPCE representative, its president Abhay Upadhyay and member FPCE Ratul Majumdar met the additional chief secretary, Housing department, government of West Bengal on September 8, 2022. “In the said meeting, it was stated by the additional chief secretary, housing that rules under RERA have already been notified and soon the chairperson and members of WB RERA will be appointed,” the FPCE said.

However, the FPCE said that the Real Estate Regulatory Authority is not yet functional in the state of West Bengal. In absence of a functional regulatory authority, the association pointed out that builders are launching, advertising, and selling without registration of projects in west Bengal which is a clear violation of section 3 of RERA.

“There is no check if 70 per cent of the money realised from home buyers is being deposited in separate bank accounts as mandated under section 4 of RERA,” it said.

Homebuyers have no grievance redressal mechanism against unscrupulous builders and they are hence being mercilessly exploited, the association said.

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