With skeletal staff and lax implementation of its orders, does K-RERA lack bite?

The regulatory authority is yet to grow into its full potential as an effective ombudsman of the critical real estate sector

Updated - July 08, 2022 11:32 am IST

Published - July 08, 2022 01:39 am IST - Bengaluru

BENGALURU  KARNATAKA   06/07/2022 :   Southern parts of Bengaluru city view, off Kanakapura Road, in Bengaluru on July 06, 2022.   Photo MURALI KUMAR K / The Hindu.

BENGALURU  KARNATAKA   06/07/2022 :   Southern parts of Bengaluru city view, off Kanakapura Road, in Bengaluru on July 06, 2022.   Photo MURALI KUMAR K / The Hindu. | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

Five years after the Karnataka Real Estate Regulatory Authority (K-RERA) was set up, the State government seems to have caged it in many ways, not allowing the institution to grow to its full potential as an effective ombudsman of the critical real-estate sector.

K-RERA has only one office in the entire State, in Bengaluru, and is working with a skeletal staff of barely 49 persons against a sanctioned strength of 64 and 15 vacancies. There have been 6,906 complaints made to K-RERA, of which 3,522 are pending, and there are only four retired engineers to carry out spot inspections.

While it is supposed to penalise any project selling flats, plots without registration with K-RERA, the authority is not able to do this effectively because it has no vigilance cell at all. The list of 1,051 unregistered projects it has on its website is culled out from media advertisements and there has been no enforcement on them, except alerting homebuyers that they are not registered with the authority. 

“We need well-staffed spot inspection and vigilance teams to function effectively. We have sought an additional sanctioned strength of 183, which will include technical staff as well,” said a senior K-RERA official. However, the government is yet to provide them all the resources the authority needs to be effective.

One of the major complaints against K-RERA was the delay in hearing of complaints. “There was only one bench hearing cases in the authority till recently, creating a backlog. But after clearing a legal hurdle, the authority now has six benches with three K-RERA members and at least 3 benches will be hearing cases every day — 60-80 cases are being heard everyday,” said Ibrahmim Maigur, secretary, K-RERA said. He also said K-RERA recently held two Lok Adalats — on March 12 and June 25 — clearing a total of 398 cases and ordering a compensation of ₹13.8 crore to home buyers in two days.

However, what seems to have taken away the bite of K-RERA is the lax implementation of its orders. K-RERA orders mostly award monetary compensation to home buyers by levying penalties on promoters or developers, which they often don’t end up paying, forcing the authority to seek “revenue recovery” — district deputy commissioners initiate seizure and auction procedures of assets to recover the penalty levied. However, with inordinate delays in revenue recovery by DCs either due to stay orders from courts or red tape and laxity in implementation of the K-RERA orders, the authority seems to have lost some bite. 

K-RERA has issued “revenue recovery” orders in 664 cases totalling to ₹267.03 crore, of which only ₹15.19 crore has been recovered in 48 cases as on March 31, 2022 and the recovery of a whopping ₹251.83 crore is pending in 616 cases. 

“We have held multiple meetings with the revenue department to speed up this process, to no avail. They also cite staff crunch and other issues, which are genuine issues that we understand. Since most of these revenue recovery cases are in Bengaluru (Urban) district, it would help K-RERA if there is a dedicated division created in the district administration for revenue recovery cases,” said Mr. Maigur.

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