BANGALORE: After sites, it’s now the turn of flats. Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has arbitrarily jacked up the prices of flats by almost 100%-200%, spiking the common man’s last hope of owning a dream home in the city.
While BDA plans to sell 2BHK flats of its future projects at not less than Rs 25 lakh, it also served notice to over 3,000 home buyers who’ve won flats in a recent lottery, to pay an additional Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh, depending on the type of house.
The decision to hike prices was taken at a recent BDA board meeting, official sources said. “There are several provisions in the Karnataka Apartment Ownership Act that prevent private developers from swindling buyers, but it appears now that BDA is just doing just that — cheating the average citizen. This is happening because there are only officials on the Board and they have no concern for the middle class or poor,” said BM Shiva Kumar, RTI activist.
Allottees, who’ve won 2BHK flats, have started getting notices from the BDA, informing them to pay an additional Rs 10 lakh over the original price of Rs 7.5 lakh, fixed at the time when BDA had invited applications in 2012. Allottees of 3BHK homes will soon get notices to pay up Rs 15 lakh more.
The abrupt increase in BDA flat prices has sent allottees scurrying to arrange for finances, while some have simply given up. “Over the past two years, I struggled to pay Rs 7.5 lakh, and borrowed loans at exorbitant interest from moneylenders. At most, I can pay Rs 1-2 lakh extra. But the BDA’s notice to pay an additional Rs 10 lakh has dashed all my hopes,” said Puttamma, who’s bagged a flat at Doddabanahalli on Old Madras Road.
Interestingly, some private builders are offering 2BHK flats of better quality and with more amenities, for prices slightly higher than those fixed by the BDA.
The hike will pinch buyers of 3BHK flats even more as they have to cough up an additional Rs 15 lakh. “It’s a ploy by the BDA to discourage the middle class to buy their flats,” added K Somashekar, another allottee.
BDA board members, however, defended their move. B Ganganna, finance member, BDA, said: “Because the buildings were under construction at the time, we mentioned in the advertisement that prices were provisional and could be changed. We’ve changed accordingly, taking into consideration the prices of land and increased construction costs. We’ve constructed internal roads and fitted other amenities and obviously, we have to take this money from the flat buyers.”
But Shiva Kumar strongly disputes this theory, alleging that the land where the flats are being constructed was bought by the BDA for just Rs 2 lakh per acre, after the Special Task Force recovered this encroached government land in and around Bangalore. Besides, the construction cost has not crossed Rs 1100 sqft.
* Apartments are located in Nandini Layout, Alur, Malagala, Thippasandra, Halage Voderahalli, Kothanur, Doddabanahalli, Gunjur, Valagerahalli
* Flats are in various stages of construction
FLATS – OLD PRICE – REVISED PRICE – PRICE FOR FUTURE PROJECTS
1BHK — Rs 5 Lakh — Rs 7.5 lakh — Rs 10 Lakh
2BHK — Rs 7.5 lakh — Rs 17.6 lakh — Rs 25 lakh
3BHK — Rs 13.5 lakh – Rs 25 lakh – Rs 35 lakh
By hiking the prices of its apartments, the BDA is defeating the very purpose of providing affordable housing. While a marginal hike is understandable, given the rise in the prices of sand, steel and cement over the past year, escalating the price by 100%-200 % appears unfair. It’s the home buyers who will have to scrounge for funds, and take loans to cover the shortfall. Most of them may not fall in the band that banks love to oblige. The BDA is pushing them to desperation with its arbitrary decisions, and also behaving as a real estate agency rather than a civic agency, as the high court had once pointed out. The government could step in to regulate prices in this case.