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Kochi: Demand for riverside properties dips
The Times of India  |  May 21, 2019

TNN KOCHI

Properties developed along the banks of lakes, rivers and backwaters continue to attract buyers, but the fear of being dragged into legal battles deter them from investing in such properties.

 

As the Supreme Court orders to demolish four apartment complexes in the city citing violation of CRZ norms, potential home buyers either hold back from investing or shelve their plans.

 

“The recent developments have made people more cautious. No one wants to risk their hard-earned money. Buyers in general are not aware of the rules and regulations. It is after making huge investments that they get caught in legal tangles,” said D Dhanuraj, chairman of Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a city-based think tank.

 

The All Kerala Apartment Owners’ Association too shared a similar view. “Be it demolition or fine, the home owner will have to bear the burden. They have to raise the money, need to hire lawyers and file review petitions. There are instances when the court slapped fines on a builder for violating CRZ norms. However, it was learnt that the builder forced flat owners to pay the fine. The builder threatened owners saying that they would not pay the fine and the building would eventually get demolished,” said association president V K Shankarankutty.

 

Those familiar with the realty sector pointed that it’s mostly NRIs who fall for the marketing strategies of builders and make investments without exercising due diligence.

 

The representatives of builders visit foreign countries and make presentations before interested buyers. Impressed by this and trusting the brand, they decide to buy properties in cities like Kochi.

 

“The buyer generally does not have any idea of the nature of the land where the project is being planned. They will be clueless about the rules and regulations as well. Some of them might come down once in a while to check out the progress of work. Others might turn up during the time of handing over of the flats. It is only when courts interfere and issue demolition orders that they understand the reality,” said Jeayu Shankar, sibling of an NRI investor.

 

Dhanuraj said builders alone cannot be blamed for the predicament of home owners. “Apart from local bodies, the revenue department and village office play a key role in approving projects. Government officials should be made equally liable for the violations,” he said.

 

Banker V K Adarsh pointed out the need to fix the responsibility of giving approvals on a single authority to avoid the dilemma faced by home buyers.

 

“The constitution of Kerala Real Estate Regulatory Authority is expected to address the issue to a great extent. The role of local bodies should be limited to policy making whereas revenue department and town planning should be entrusted with the responsibility of issuing approvals and the officials should be made accountable for each approval they issue,” he said.