Monday, December 30, 2013

Recommendations of the Supreme Court Panel on forest land

Nearly 5 lakh residents living on the periphery of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) like Thane, Mulund and Vikhroli on the eastern suburbs and Malad, Kandivili and Poisar in the western suburbs were affected by a High Court verdict last year notifying their land. Some huge housing complexes as well as settle ments in existence for over six decades were declared 'illegal' in the verdict.

Prakash Paddikal of Mulund-based NGO Hillside Residents W elf are Association (HIRWA), said, "Based on the CEC's current suggestions and the Net Present Value for these lands, we have calculated that residents with OCs may have to pay about Rs 8-10 lakh to regularize their homes. Considering the pressure we have been under for so long, that seems an acceptable suggestion."

As for residents without valid OCs, the CEC has agreed to consider their cases after their applications with details are duly filed, Paddikal said. HIRWA, along with the NGO People's Power of Nation, has beenfighting for the residents' rights for long.

Rajendra Manglurkar, joint secretary of the state Revenue and Forest department, said, "The illegal forest issue has been hanging in balance for the past 34 years and we want it to be resolved once for all. If the CEC's solution is acceptable to the public, weare more than happy with it."


One-time afforestation charges for forest land residents of pre-2006 buildings possessing valid occupation certificate or completion certificate.

Between 10 and 15 times afforestation charges for residents who have booked flats in buildings under construction 20 times charges for areas which have been booked for development but work has not yet begun or is in initial stages.

No afforestation charges for farmers owning land in non- agricultural regions and government buildings in private forest lands. The Issue came to limelight in 2002 after the Bombay Environmental Action Group filed a petition in the Bombay High Court over encroachment on forest land. In 2005, the government told the HC that there were encroachments on private forest land. While HC ruling went againstresidents and builders, residents associations filed a Special Leave Petition inthe SC, after which the panel was formed.

A Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has been appointed by the Supreme Court on the forest land issue which is headed by TV Jaikrishna and the Committee is reported to have visited Thane, Mulund and Vikhroli on December 30,2008.

KOLKATA-BASED Eden City Projects has come up with a new scheme for its residential projects, which requires an applicant to pay only 15 per cent of the cost on allotment and the remaining amount as monthly installments two years later, on getting the physical possession of the flat.

“Book now and start paying in 2011”, seems to the buzzword in the realty space. Explaning the sheme, Biswadeep Gupta, General Manager said, “In the scheme called Empower all one has to do is to fill up the prescribed application form with requisite booking amount, which is not very high. Pay 15 per cent of the total value on allotment and sign a home loan agreementwith the developer's home loan partner (whichcould be HDFC, ICICI or someone else) and start paying the rest ofthe money as equated monthly installments(EMI) only from 2011 onwards, after the developeractually gives physical possessionof flats.
An increasing number of developers are coming up with similar schemes, which is just another name for discount, without actually reducing the price of property.

It means one has enough time to save up for a house. People who pay rent would be spared from the burden of paying monthly installment also, and no interest would be charged for the interim period either.

Eden City Projects was one of the first to start the scheme when slowdown set in. Others such as Riverbank Holdings (which is developing Calcutta Riverside Projects as Batanagar) and Ruchi Realty (which is developing Active Acres), followed the suit.

Eden City's Empower claims to have more advantages than one. One can buy a residential property at present prevailing price, but start paying the EMI two years later, that is from 2011 onwards. One doesn't have to pay house rent and EMI together. Besides, one can choose the EMI tenure, of course, subject to loan approval.

For a two-bedroom flat of 796 sq ft, which comes with a price tag of Rs 14.98 lakh with car park, one has to pay Rs 2.24 lakh as booking amount and start paying EMI from 2011. Similarly, for a three-bedroom flat of 1,236 sq ft, whose price is Rs 22.57 lakh, one has to pay a booking amount Rs 3.38Iakh, he said.

Ruchi Realty Holdings, the realty arm of Ruchi Industries, has also come up with a subvention scheme. Shivam Asthana, vice-president of Ruchi Realty, said his company has teamed up with HDFC to offer this subvention scheme. Interestingly, the developers in all such cases are bearing the burden of re-EMl interests. For all practical purposes, therefore,it is all but a heavy discount offered to customers in a differentformat.

                   Bombav High Court issues Notice

The Bombay High Court has sent notices to RBI and others to respond to public interest litigation (PIL) that sought the court's directive to banks to put up signboards on mortgaged lands on which construction was being undertaken.

A division bench of Chief Justice and Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud was hearing PIL filed by one Rajendra Thacker against RBI, Syndicate Bank, Housing Development and Infrastructure (HDIL) and Enigma Constructions, which issued a brochure under the brand name Rustomjee Estate. The brochure, however, did not mention that the land was partly mortgaged to a bank.

The petitioner's lawyer Sumedha Rao said: "We want banks to put up signboards stating that the land has been mortgaged. Also, the banks should publish a list of properties on which they have a mortgage or a charge." The petitioner's contention was thatif the land's title was in dispute, the builder cannot 'convey' goodand marketable title of the flat to owners unless the litigation over the title ends. In such cases, the buyers may get cheated of their rights in the property for which they have paid full consideration.

Ms Rao, further urged that the builders may make it clear in their advertisements that land was mortgaged.

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