NRI buyers accuse Kolkata realtor of breaking promises

December 21st, 2008 - 12:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 21 (IANS) Having shelled out huge amounts for a nest back home, non-resident Indian (NRI) buyers of Kolkata’s tallest apartment building are now left complaining that the developer has not provided the promised amenities.NRI buyers of flats at the landmark South City project on Prince Anwar Shah Road in south Kolkata allege that the facilities promised by the builder during bookings, such as clubhouse, landscaping and finished interiors, were all but forgotten at the time of delivery.

Some flats in the project cost up to Rs.35 million (Rs.3.5 crore), making them the most expensive flats in the city.

“When I came to take the delivery of my flat all the way from New Jersey, I found it was full of construction rubble. The plaster was chipping off and there were a lot of holes in the walls in the apartment,” Bijali Sinha said in an email to IANS.

“Most surprisingly, almost 40 percent of the floor tiles were cracked and uneven, air conditioners were not operational, windows were jammed and the glass panes were also cracked. It was an unbearable scene,” she added.

Sinha said many purchasers had taken loans from banks and were paying huge interests.

“I paid the full dues to the South City Project for my duplex apartment in Tower-I which is worth Rs.2.3 crore (Rs.23 million or around $484,000). Now, the builder is just taking advantage of our absence from the country and resorting to lies without meeting the promises,” Sinha said, adding she now wanted a refund for the amenities not provided despite the initial promise.

The South City project, with its four 35-storey and one 15-storey residential towers, is a landmark luxury apartment complex developed by a city-based consortium.

The project, sprawling over 31.14 acres, has been showcased as an NRI township offering almost 50 percent of its total accommodation to Indians settled abroad.

Kolkata’s real estate magnates such as Sushil Mohta of the Merlin Group of Companies, R.S. Agarwal and R.S. Goenka of the Emami Group, J.K. Khetawat of the Rameswara Group, Pradeep Sureka of the Sureka Group, S.K. Todi of the Shrachi Group and R.K. Bachhawat of the J.B. Group comprise the consortium that built that complex.

“I agree that there are some problems with some apartments in the South City Project. But we’re trying to sort it out as early as possible sitting with the individual owners,” South City Project managing director Sushil Mohta told IANS.

“We completed the project within a very restricted time frame. We are committed to our customers but they should also understand that in such a big project, some small problems can happen any time,” Mohta added.

Another member of the consortium, Pradip Sureka, admitted there were problems with a few South City apartments but said: “Our people are working on this, we are hopeful of rectifying all problems very soon.”

Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj - the Indian subsidiary of the US-based global real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle - which has been entrusted with the apartment delivery process, also assured the buyers of immediate solution to their problems.

However, Gautam Dutta - a Britain-based doctor - is not impressed.

“Despite sending a series of complaints, I’ve not received any timely reply from them. Now, we don’t understand how we can solve this problem. It’s not realistically possible to come to Kolkata and see how things are progressing,” Dutta told IANS over phone from Warwickshire.

“We (Bengali NRIs) bought flats in the South City project, which are worth a few million, just to maintain our roots in West Bengal. You can say it was like a Bengali connection for all of us. But the way we have been treated is quite shocking. This will send a wrong signal to the Bengali NRI community living in different parts of world.”

Housing department officials said they could only step in if specific complaints were lodged.

“We don’t have any particular grievance cell in the state to deal with such issues. But since it’s an issue with NRIs, if anyone lodges any complaint, we can step in considering the importance of the matter,” housing department official Santa Roy Chowdhury said.

She said the government does not deal with realtors directly. But the state housing development board works in tandem with private developers on individual real estate projects.

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