Monday, October 22, 2018

A Mask Named Transparency!

“The single most important ingredient in the recipe for success is transparency because transparency builds trust”... Denise Morrison.

Denise M. Morrison is an American business executive who served as president and chief executive officer of Campbell Soup Company from 2011 through 2018. Named the "21st Most Powerful Woman in Business" by Fortune Magazine in 2011, Morrison was elected a director of Campbell in October 2010. And no wonder with such business executives leading the industries in USA it’s considered as one of most fair deal’s country. I remember my first trip to USA when I wanted to buy a laptop, as usual I was asking questions regarding its use & warranty as well features etc. The shopkeeper stunned me by saying I can take the laptop home, use it & if I don’t like the model I can give back within one month & get money refund! That was nearly 20 years back & when I ask my friend along who was US resident by then, what if someone uses it for month & give it back after use & get another laptop from another shop? He looked at me & said this is USA & here deals are made on trust & transparency! Unfortunate the very same Indians who praise USA doesn’t behave in these basic principles of doing business in our very own country, may it be as a trader or as a client! And when the business is real estate then the lesser we say is good is the scene & this I am saying with RERA in action! All those who are praising RERA (indeed that is good move) may raise their eye brows for my statement about real estate but then why the govt required to bring RERA (REAL ESTATE REGULATORY ACT) for regulating real estate is the question I will ask!  And then has the real estate scene improved after RERA? No, I am not referring to financial calculations of the real estate industry post RERA, they are hitting low which each passing day but for that many aspects are responsible, I am referring to transparency & trust aspect of real estate post RERA or in general!

Reason is I read news in media that now RERA authority has made it mandatory to display sanction plans at the ongoing construction site! Wow, innovative, nice, wonderful, client friendly & many more applauds came to my mind as every day we are breaking new record of antitrust movement regarding builder-client relation front, it seems! With due respect to RERA’s intention to my knowledge we are supposed to furnish all the project related information on RERA web site & it does includes sanction plans as well commencement certificate from competent authority i.e. PMC/PCMC etc. So why can’t the client who is supposedly looking for his home check it on line on RERA web site & then the competent authority i.e. PMC in Pune’s case has already made mandatory to all developers to have a board on site displaying every detail including land owners name to sanction number etc etc on this board & the developer doesn’t get even plinth checking why occupation certificate without attaching snap of such display board at site! And then all competent authorities now accept only on-line plans for sanctioning which can be made available on their respective web sites which they claim they are doing; so, what’s going to be achieved by displaying sanction plans on site in print form, are we not supposed to move towards paperless working system in first place? I think RERA doesn’t believe in paperless policy!

The problem (pardon me that’s only word comes to my mind) with RERA is everything they seem to be getting done from the builder though I agree if a builder is sole beneficiary then he should do all such things like displaying plans at site etc but what about the sanctioning authorities which are collecting money which now a days is more than profit margins of the developers! Like the developers has escrow account to ensure that money collected for the projects is to be used for the respective project only. Same way why can’t there has been a assurance that development charges as well premiums collected from a particular locality or suburb has been used to develop infrastructure of that suburb only, at least a sizable part of such funds? As by charging all the money for sanctioning, the govt (read PMC/PCMC/PMRDA) are equal beneficiary from every project which comes under RERA, isn’t it? So if we want transparency for the end user i.e. flat buyers then right from water supply to roads to electricity, doesn’t all this comes under it?

Now coming back to the displaying of sanctioned plans, indeed it is good initiative but how RERA is keeping control on this? As what about already thousands of construction ongoing which are without any sanctions & which even the local governing bodies also have accepted as illegal, what action is going to be taken on this. As unfortunately in this country every law is only for the one who follows it & by now even the flat buyers knows it. My point is, when the so called common-man goes even to buy pack (peti) of Alphanso Mangos then also he confirms about its quality by checking every single mango in the peti by verifying its color, fragrance & size etc. If it is so then while buying flat (read home or plot) of some lacs of rupees, why RERA or any other govt agency has to repeatedly tell the client about checking of legality of such home! And even after repeatedly announced by the govt agencies in all sorts of media yet illegal constructions are being built & sad part is people book their life time earning in such illegal homes! 

This happens because RERA or any other authority has repeatedly failed to take strict action on illegal homes which eventually the very same govt which has formed RERA regularizes such illegal homes after they are built, is fact which even a school going kids knows by now! Not only this but such illegal homes gets electric supply, water connection, its agreements gets registered by sub-registrar (again a govt agency) & the said home buyer gets home loan also! Now where the issue of displaying sanction plan on the project site comes in all this process, except few law abiding fools (read builders) getting prints of their sanctioned plans & will spend for it to display on their site! This also I doubt that any customer will ever care to looks at such sanctioned plans as all they are interested in how much negotiation the builder does & what kind of flooring is there or club house or gym & that’s all! The only use (read misuse) of such sanctioned plans display will be by so called social workers in the surrounding who will be very busy to study the said plan & find out lacunas in it & black mail the builder! I am sorry if I am sounding negative but unfortunately in our country most of the times putting bitter facts (especially related to hyped people friendly govt policies) forward is taken as negative attitude here & my words above also are no exception to the rule!

If really RERA wants to help home buyers then make it mandatory to attach only sanction plans to the agreement while it’s being register as that will be real effective! At the same time where RERA has got any implementation authority or even cross-checking man power, as what is happening to hundreds of circulars or orders it has passed to make the builders transparent? Why are we not using technology instead going for something which is like applying Bernol (a lotion) whereas whole body has burn injuries, is I never understand with our govt’s working style! Why don’t it’s made mandatory to display sanction plans on project’s marketing web site as well builders offices where the customer goes for booking first than at site? At the same time make people aware by arranging seminars as well using social media as most people in their life has never seen a sanction drawings & don’t know how to read it in first place! All they can understand is 3-D views & presentation drawings by the builder with furniture shown (which rarely fits in actual) & dimensions written on it! Why by now the RERA authority hasn’t appointed private architects on their panel at every city & town to make the flat buyer aware about what is difference between working drawings, presentation drawings & sanction drawings, so all this verification the client can make by his own before finalizing the flat! Most importantly what has been being done for all the projects which are being built without any sanction as well registrations with RERA, as unless these questions are answered that too by action, nobody will respect RERA or any authority & their such “Fatwas” i.e. circulars!

As after display of sanction plan what next we will be asking to the developer, display development agreement, 7/12, his shop act license or character certificate? I repeat I am not against displaying sanction plan at site & just like any other law abiding businessman I will be doing it on my sites but issue is whom we are fooling? Transparency is not something you can force on any person, it’s an attitude which has to be respected by both sides which are in the deal & more important if someone is cheating or taking disadvantage of other part then punish him fast & hard so the next person starts respecting the transparency! Unless we build such system till then let’s be happy with display of sanction plans & other documents on site which actually is nothing but just a mask of transparency! But then in a country which is full of masks, what else can be expected!

Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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