Nearly 20 years after moving into flats constructed by the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) in Kodambakkam, owners have been asked to pay a few lakhs to obtain their property sale deed.
Residents of this cluster of TNHB flats at Puliyur, in Kodambakkam, recently received a circular from TNHB asking them to pay amounts varying between Rs. 1.8 lakh and Rs. 3.5 lakh, as the differential amount they owe to the Board, to get the sale deed of their flats. Land cost was fixed at Rs. 16.18 lakh a ground (2,400 square feet) in March 2009.
“We purchased a single-bedroom flat for Rs. 2.29 lakh in 1993 by borrowing from various sources and completely using up our savings. We rushed as the flats were built by the government but now we regret our decision,” said S. Varadhan and S.N. Eshwaran, who were among the first to move into the TNHB complex in 1996.
Residents say rarely does a day pass by without a portion of a balcony, ceiling or terrace crumbling and falling. There are a total of 428 flats, comprising 64 two-bedroom flats, 124 single-bedroom flats and 240 flats constructed in 10 blocks.
“A team of government officials should visit and see for themselves the pathetic condition of our flats. We are living under the perpetual fear of being buried in rubble, and demanding more money of us is unfair and arbitrary,” said Vasantha Viswanathan.
Jecintha, a resident living in a ground floor flat, had a narrow escape on Monday evening. “I was sitting outside my flat on the ground floor when the plaster on the sun shade of the flat on the third floor fell in a heap,” she said.
Chitra Bhaskaran, another resident, said the quality of construction was poor and the overhead water tanks were resting on weak and brittle concrete slabs and pillars. Several owners had sold their flats at a pittance and shifted elsewhere, she added.
TNHB officials said they had issued the circular following a High Court direction. There was nothing wrong with the quality of the construction, the officials claimed, adding that the maintenance of flats was the responsibility of the owners and occupants.