Sunday, May 5, 2013

Housing Scam: Oberoi Splendour residents move court against builder

Trouble's brewing at Andheri's Oberoi Splendour towers, considered one of the plushest addresses in the western suburbs, after an association representing about 500 flat owners moved court against the builder alleging construction deficiencies and financial irregularities amounting to more than Rs 600 crore.

The civil suit filed by the flat owners' representative, Mohit Chandra Bhardwaj, also mentions alleged violations of the development control rules under the Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act.

Oberoi Splendour in Andheri (E), off Western Express Highway, comprises 1,296 apartments in six 27-storey wings. The complex boasts of amenities such as clubhouse, swimming pool, sauna facilities, squash courts and a jogging track. According to the builder, Oberoi Realty, a twoand-a-half BHK apartment in the complex demands a price of Rs 2.75 crore.

The residents and Oberoi Realty are at loggerheads over a 27-storey tower that has come up adjacent Oberoi Splendour. The tower, named Oberoi Grande, has 156 apartments which are all up for sale, and the builder has promised the buyers access to the amenities at Oberoi Splendour.

"Just imagine what will happen when an additional 700 people start using the amenities meant exclusively for us," said Bhardwaj, adding that the jogging track, the clubhouse and the parking area were not large enough to accommodate so many people. The residents have further alleged that the new tower has come up on the plot that was supposed to be their recreational space.

According to Bhardwaj, the developer is constructing two additional buildings with no compound walls to separate them from Oberoi Splendour. "We are really worried as the facilities are limited, and the new structures don't comply with the initial plan," he said.

The residents used the Right to Information (RTI) Act and accessed the plans the builder had submitted to the BMC, and the civic body approvals, following which they hired an architect, Shrikant Hadke, to inspect the complex and point out discrepancies in construction.

The architect's report says the residents have been given flats smaller than promised, a charge the builder denies. According to the residents, the BMC documents say each flat has a built-up area of 893 sq ft, while the purchase agreements mention the builtup area as 987 sq ft.

The residents further allege that the size of the bedroom, according to their agreements with the builder, was supposed to be 96.84 sq ft as opposed to the actual size (88.77 sq ft).

The developer, however, said the residents' allegations were baseless. "We can only deliver what was promised, and not according to what they expect. Anyone is welcome to come and measure the apartments to ensure that everything is according to the plan," an Oberoi Realty spokesperson said.

Demanding that the occupation certificate to Oberoi Grande be withheld, the residents alleged that the builder forced them to pay for the parking slots, in complete violation of the Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act. "The builder cannot sell the parking space unless it is utilised under the floor space index (FSI)," a resident said, adding that the basement parkings are free of FSI, and therefore cannot be sold. They also alleged that they haven't been provided with office space, freight lift or refuge area on each floor, all of which was promised.

To this, the Oberoi Realty spokesperson said, "As per the flat purchase agreements, a builder charges a lumpsum amount which includes exclusive rights to parking slots and other shared facilities."

Regarding the promised amenities that haven't been provided, the spokesperson said, "The plot housing Oberoi Splendour is spread across 18 acres, and there were a lot of development projects planned. It is common knowledge that builders are granted Intimation of Disapproval (IOD), which is necessary to develop the plot, in phases. As and when we got the plans approved, we went ahead with the construction of the buildings on the premises."

The residents, however, said there were large-scale financial irregularities while executing the flat transfer agreements, and the sale of parking spaces after getting the occupation certificate. They further alleged that the developer made money out of lease agreements allowing ATM kiosks on the complex premises, installing mobile phone towers, and renting out the premises for film shoots. "Money earned from such deals should have been deposited in the society accounts," a resident said.

The builder's spokesperson, however, said the mobile phone towers were installed following requests from the residents, and Oberoi Realty didn't get any money from the telecom companies.

During the hearing on Friday, the Dindoshi city civil court asked the residents' association to file a fresh complaint or amend the names of the complainants, after the builder's advocate Behru Choudhary pointed out that the association was not a registered body. The matter has been scheduled for May 8.
Mumbai Mirror | May 4, 2013, 07.30 AM IST
By: Arita Sarkar

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