Bangalore Development Authority
Bangalore: The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) which is usually flooded with applications seeking allotment of flats and sites, is getting requests of a different kind: allottees are seeking refunds of deposits paid for affordable flats.
An exorbitant rise in flat rates is playing spoiler. "It's not worth buying a BDA flat at the new rate,'' said Girish Aradhya, an aggrieved allottee who's been waging a legal battle against the authorities' arbitrary move. Prices shot up by 100% to 200% earlier this year.
According to officials, about 300 of the 3,000 allottees have surrendered the flats they had secured through a lottery earlier last year. While some couldn't afford to make additional financial arrangements to meet the revised costs, others simply felt the new prices were too steep.
Though some allottees approached the Karnataka high court against the BDA's sudden change of tack, the case was dismissed after the agency told the court the hike was inevitable because of rising construction costs.
The BDA claimed it incurred a cost of Rs 1,700-2,300 per sqft on constructing flats in Vallagerahalli, Mallagara and Doddabanahalli. Those who bore the brunt claim the inflated costs are misleading -- private low-cost housing ranges between Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,500 per sqft.
A few engineers overseeing private affordable housing projects concurred with these claims.
"When private builders manage to construct flats at Rs 1,100-1,500 per sqft, it's hard to believe BDA incurs such high expenditure. This is a ploy by BDA officials to force the gullible to give up their flats, and later allot the same houses to their cronies,'' alleged BM Shivakumar, an RTI activist fighting for the cause of poor allottees.
KM Srivastava, son of an allottee who wanted his deposit returned with interest, said: "Only sand prices have gone up considerably, prices of other products have seen only a marginal rise. As the BDA purchased these lands at Rs 2 lakh per acre to build flats, there was no need to increase rates, despite the increase in building cost.''
BDA acquired over 100 acres of farmland to build these flats in 2007, at Rs 2 lakh per acre. "We've decided to challenge the single-judge bench order of the high court as we've found some incriminating documents,'' said Aradhya.
However, a senior BDA official maintained it was mentioned in advertisements that prices were only provisional. "We also changed the construction plan. We decided to use granite extensively and build cupboards in all flats. All this led to cost escalation,'' he maintained.
HOW PRICES WERE JACKED
* In 2011-12, according to a BDA notification, prices for 1, 2 and 3 BHK houses were Rs 5 lakh, Rs 7.5 lakh and Rs 13.5 lakh, respectively.
* Three years later, BDA hiked the prices to Rs 7 lakh-13 lakh for 1 BHK, Rs 25 lakh for 2 BHK and Rs 35 lakh for 3 BHK houses.
BDA OR A REAL ESTATE AGENCY?
The BDA was created to help the poor and middle class by developing affordable sites and houses. But of late, it's behaving like a real estate agency. By doubling flat prices, BDA has defeated the ultimate goal of supporting the common man to purchase his dream home. So there aren't many flats being sold.
-- Ravi Subramani | an aggrieved allottee
DEPOSITS WILL BE REFUNDED
If the allottees surrender their sites, we'll ensure their deposits are refunded. But I don't know how many people have surrendered their flats, it pertains to the engineering section. I'm also not aware what our officials have told the court.
T Sham Bhat | BDA commissioner
ONLY QUALITY CAN JUSTIFY PRICE
It's difficult to assess the cost of constructing affordable housing projects unless you know the quality of construction and time taken to complete such projects. If BDA ensured 100% quality like they do in the private sector, I think they are right in quoting such high prices.