Real estate laws need overhaul

The Rs 800 crore worth real estate standoff between a top city builder, the state government and the residents of Pimpalwadi at Girgaum in south Mumbai is symptomatic of the problems the industry has been facing in Mumbai. And unless there is a serious overhaul of the scores of rules that govern real estate in the city, these issues will not see the end.

The state government knows that builders in Mumbai are not the most scrupulous of the lot, one of the reasons Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan himself has intervened in almost every big deal that the city has seen since he took over last November is precisely that.

Take the rules that govern the controversial Transfer of Development Rights rules in the city. The confusion over the rules has resulted in several projects being stalled, or those that are complete going to unaffordable levels for regular consumers. As a result, close to one lakh houses remain unsold in the city and its suburbs. This is an appalling, even alarming,  figure by any standard.

What Mumbai really needs are laws that are easily implementable, and for existing laws to be implemented with rigour so that unscrupulous builders -- and there is no shortage of those in the city -- are weeded out. At present, though, the mistrust between the government and the builders is at its peak.

One of the reasons for this mistrust is obviously corruption. Municipal authorities are notorious in their overlooking of breach of laws, and builders, knowing they would hardly ever get caught, flout them at will. It is this flouting that needs to be curbed. The trust between buyers, builders and the government would then perhaps return, resulting in not only making real estate dealings far more transparent as well as affordable.

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