Provision for parking, water non-existent in many complexes

The occupants of many flat complexes that have mushroomed in and around the city have come to understand the hard way the meaning of the proverb all that glitters is not gold.

Dreams of a comfortable life turned into nightmare for many of them when they got saline water for drinking or taps dried up overnight, lifts stopped midway through, parking space for cars were found non-existent and in some extreme cases, the builder dropped the project halfway through the construction or simply refused to hand over the apartments on completion.

Often at the receiving end were those who did not pay attention to the credibility of the builders in the quest for acquiring a flat at the cheapest possible rates. While they came to rue their judgment, it has brought a bad name for the construction fraternity at large.

While the builders are expected to ensure that utility services are in order when they hand over its maintenance to the flat owners’ association, only later do the owners realise that the services are either of inferior quality or were simply a stop gap arrangement.

However, the Kochi chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (CREDAI) with 75 members has hardly received any complaints against its members.

“Buyers need to take in to account the credibility of the builder while making their choice. CREDAI also has a grievance cell where the clients of our members can lodge their complaints which will be promptly addressed,” said John Thomas, secretary, Kochi chapter of CREDAI.

Owners’ predicament

He, however, said that the organisation can hardly do anything about the dealings of builders who are not its members.

An official working with a small time builder said on condition of anonymity that fly-by-night operators who somehow want to deliver one or two projects and simply quit the scene with whatever profits earned from it are responsible for sullying the image of the larger builders’ community. They spend the barest minimum for putting up facilities like drainage and effluent treatment plant and then bribe the authorities concerned to get the relevant certificates. No wonder, these facilities break down as soon as the flats are occupied, he said. Then there are cases like that of an 18-storied apartment complex at Vyttila where the two-year-old residents’ association is still waiting for the builder to hand over the apartments and maintenance of utility services. Varghese Joy, president of Mystic Heights Owners’ Association alleged that the builder is illegally renting out the apartments for daily and hourly rents despite there being a munsif court judgment to hand over the apartments. “Complaints to Tripunithura municipality and police have proved futile. Now, the builder has turned off the lift and drinking water supply,” he said. District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareed said that the district administration is looking at intervening in the case on ground of public nuisance.

Gopinathan P.M., president of a residents’ association of an apartment complex, Kalpaga Gardens, at Chalikkavattom said that the association is set to take legal recourse against the builder on three counts – lack of parking space and drinking water supply and refusal of the builder to return the deposit for maintenance. He said that the residents of the apartment complex now has to depend on erratic water supply by tanker lorries.

Water seems to be a perennial problem. Deepu, a senior executive with a private company who owns a flat near Vyttila, has just made a contribution towards a desalination plant the association has decided to set up after the water they received through the tube well was found to be saline.

P.S. Gopalakrishnan and fellow association office-bearers of Tripunithura-based Sreebhadra Enclave surmounted a far bigger crisis.

The builder, who took money from them on the promise of delivering flats, simply dropped the project halfway through, leaving them to pool resources to complete the work. Finally, the owners had to shell out about Rs. 5 lakh more than the original offer price to take delivery of the flats.

“A small time builder has a piece of advice for future buyers. Don’t be deceived by advertisement blitzkrieg but always collect first-hand information about a builder from the clients of his delivered projects. An advice they will do well to remember.

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