Pune developer eats its words, starts refund

The sham has finally ended. Over a week after Pune-based real estate developer Maple Shelters waded into a controversy by claiming that it would build 10,000 houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY), it said on Friday that it had erred in interpreting the provisions of the scheme.

On April 14, it had published an advertisement in newspapers, bearing even a picture of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, announcing the launch of its project. The advertisement sought applicants for a non-refundable fee of R1,000. The builder’s website also claimed that the project was aligned with the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

mid-day had on April 19 questioned the builder’s authority in providing houses under the scheme when it didn’t have the approval of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), the nodal agency for PMAY in the state.

A day later, Maple Shelters had claimed that it could bypass MHADA’s authority and had the documents to prove it.

Apologises to CM, PM
On Friday, though, it did a complete volte-face. A statement issued by Maple Group CMD, Sachin Agarwal read, “While admitting to its error of interpretation of the provisions of the government’s Prime Minister Awaas Yojana (PMAY), the Maple Group remains passionate about providing affordable housing for EWS (economically weaker section) and LIG (lower income group) customers, which is the need of the hour and aligned with vision of the central and state governments to provide housing for all.”

The realtor said it has also initiated refunds of its registration fee as per the government’s directive.

“Maple has refunded registration fees of 13,500 Aapla Ghar applicants and 500-plus applicants reinforced their faith in brand Maple by refusing to take the money back,” it said.

The builder also apologized to the CM and Guardian Minister Girish Bapat for posting their photographs in its advertisement as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It said it has also initiated online refunds for around 10,000 applicants who had paid the registration fees through the payment gateway services.

Maple Shelters’ blatant defiance of MHADA authority had spurred the nodal agency to launch and inquiry into the project. Fadnavis, too, had directed the Pune collector to begin an inquiry of his own into the issue. A senior MHADA officer said the inquiry is still on.

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