Amrapali project in Noida: Fully paid buyers indicated they had pending payments

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On September 5, Amit Tiwari woke up in brutal shock. The 42-year-old insurance professional, owner of an apartment in Noida’s Amrapali Sapphire housing project, was listed on around 10,000 homebuyers in a newspaper ad. They had all been asked to enter the details of their lump sum transaction on an online portal and settle the outstanding amounts within 15 days. Non-payment, the announcement warned, would result in the cancellation of their apartment assignments.

Alarmed, Tiwari rushed to the court’s receiver (CR) office – senior lawyer R Venkatramani who was appointed by the Supreme Court in July 2019 to revive and complete all Amrapali housing projects after the bankruptcy of the real estate developer in 2017 – who issued the notice.

He explained that he paid the full amount for his apartment in Sapphire (as per the builder’s purchase contract) and that his deed (a document that transfers property rights) was registered in 2020 after being duly verified and authorized by the court receiver itself. “I was told that I had not paid ??18,000 in service tax. But why would the builder (Amrapali) give me my apartment without full payment? ” He asked.

Tiwari is not alone.

Rajiv Punetha, owner of an apartment in Amrapali Silicon City, is the first name on the list released on September 5.

“In Amrapali Sapphire alone there are about 50 apartment owners whose names are on the list. All their papers have already been checked by the CR office, some once, others twice. At least 18 of them even registered their deeds of transfer with the approval of CR after verification, ”said Commodore RK Srivastava (retired), who heads the Association of Apartment Owners of the housing company. .

The notice and problems associated with registering deeds of transfer represent the latest hurdle for homebuyers who have spent years hoping to move into their apartments and then struggled with legal issues due to alleged financial embezzlement. from Amrapali.

Amrapali declared bankruptcy in 2017, leaving thousands of buyers in Noida and Greater Noida in limbo. On July 23, 2019, a bench of two Supreme Court justices, Arun Mishra and UU Lalit, ordered the arrest of developers Anil Sharma and Shiv Priya, and tasked Venkatramani with relaunching seven Amrapali projects in Noida and nine in Greater Noida, which are currently in various stages of development.

“This is a classic case because it has defined the model for resolving future disputes between developers and home buyers. This is the first case where the Supreme Court has taken on the task of completing the project. The only other model is the case of Unitech, where its board of directors was removed from office and replaced by candidates from the central government for the reconstruction of the company’s assets, ”said senior lawyer ML Lahoty , who represents homebuyers in supreme court proceedings.

And yet, for the 42,000 people whose dreams of owning a home have been sidelined by Amrapali’s financial woes, the past two years have brought unexpected challenges.

Registration of acts

At the time of the Supreme Court’s order in 2019, around 9,000 home buyers in Amrapali had already moved into their apartment after making full payment. In the same order, the Supreme Court also ordered that the deeds of transfer of all these buyers be registered within one month.

Two years later, barely 1,600 such acts have been recorded, mostly in the two phases of Amrapali Sapphire, Princely Estate and Platinum, all in Noida, according to data compiled by various residents’ associations. There is no data available on the number of acts registered on the CR portal.

Many apartment owners say they fall a long way from securing documented legal property rights despite endless rounds of document submission and review. “At least five ID camps have been held in Silicon City since the Supreme Court order, but we haven’t seen any real progress. No updated data is available. It’s endless torture, ”one buyer said on condition of anonymity.

During a hearing in early 2019, before appointing Venkatramani as receiver, the supreme court ordered a forensic audit of all the transactions of the Amrapali group. The report, which contains the list of “undervalued” apartments and suspicious transactions, has not yet been posted on the CR portal.

Certainly the challenges before Venkatramani were staggering. He had to walk over a legal minefield – same unit sold to more than one person, benami transactions, dumped apartments, untraceable landlords, arbitrary change of areas of apartments for which developers raised money, etc.

Another serious problem, according to a representative sample of buyers, is retrospective pricing of apartments. For example, a buyer who was successful in obtaining a discount from the old Amrapali promoters at the time of booking is asked to pay the difference now, even if they have made full payment in accordance with the builder-buyer agreement. “It is like destroying completely a legal contract made between buyer and seller years ago,” said one apartment owner, unwilling to be identified.

Asked about the fate of the homebuyers whose names were in the September 5 notice, Venkatramani said, “We are moving slowly on this point. We will not take our next steps until after a committee appointed by the Supreme Court has met. He didn’t give a timetable.

Blocked projects

Venkatramani informed the Supreme Court on September 3 that a consortium of six banks – Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India, Bank of India, UCO Bank and Punjab and Sind Bank – had agreed to finance projects of Amrapali blocked. , which represent approximately 33,000 dwellings.

“We already have funds for work on six projects: Silicon City-1, Silicon City-2, Crystal Homes, Centurion Low Rise, O2 Valley and Tropical Gardens. The works are going smoothly and we hope to deliver the units on time, ”said KP Mahadeva Swamy, Executive Director of NBCC (India) Ltd, a central public sector company in Navratna responsible for project oversight and construction by the Supreme Court in its Order of July 2019.

But some residents of partially completed projects have expressed doubts about the quality of NBCC’s work, complaining of waterfalls in basements, long power cuts without sufficient notice and a general lack of accountability. “On September 11, a minor explosion occurred at the Silicon City electrical substation, which left two of the workers injured and about 10,000 residents in some 2,500 apartments sweating without power for more than 17 hours. In the past 2-3 months, the housing company has faced more than 100 hours of power cuts announced at very short notice, ”one of the residents said on condition of anonymity.

When asked for an answer on how the NBCC works, Venkatramani declined to answer.

An NBCC official, asking not to be identified, blamed the delay on lack of cooperation from utility companies and other agencies. The manager, however, declined to comment on the poor quality of the work.

Lahoty blamed the delay on lack of funds despite repeated Supreme Court appeals to the banks.

“Over the past year, the court has asked banks to consider lending for Amrapali projects, but lenders have been reluctant to commit funds. In one of the recent hearings, the Supreme Court went so far as to say that the country’s highest court was the guarantor, after which the banks agreed to release the loans. Things look bright now, ”he added.

No representative of Amrapali was available for comment as its directors are still in jail and its offices have been sealed.

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