BHUBANESWAR: Plans for new housing projects in more than 550 villages are stuck since the past six months because of uncertainty over the competent authority to accord approval. The Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has stopped entertaining applications seeking approval to build houses in these areas following Orissa High Court's March 27 order restricting the agency's jurisdiction only to urban areas of the state capital region. The panchayats are not giving permission after a panchayati raj department in November 2010 ordered not to approve new projects in villages notified under BDA.
Acting on a petition, the HC had observed that the Orissa Development Authorities (ODA) Act'1982 (meant for urban areas), under which BDA was created, cannot be extended to rural areas covered by panchayats. The HC quashed the government's 2003 notification bringing 205 villages under BDA planned area and clipped government's 2011 notification to add around 360 more villages under the BDA.
Builders intending to undertake new housing projects are unable to move forward. "We are planning to construct a project on a four-acre land in Bhatakhuri village for the past six months. But there is no agency to approve it," said Ashok Patnaik, a real estate developer.
Real estate insiders said several projects in villages were trapped in the policy logjam. "As many as 100 projects in different villages have come to a halt in the absence of approving authority," said DS Tripathy, state president of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai).
Some builders, who had already applied for approval to BDA by depositing scrutiny and processing fees by the time the HC order came, are taking a scrutiny certificate from the BDA and going ahead with the projects. But legal standing of such technical approval remains uncertain, he added.
"The government should remove the uncertainty at the earliest by making suitable changes in policy to allow the real estate sector to grow. There must be clarity and consistency in the policy," said Pradipta Kumar Biswasray, president of Real Estate Developers Associaiton of Odisha (Reda).
BDA authorities said the government has moved the Supreme Court (SC) challenging the HC decision. "We have moved the SC against the HC order on BDA's jurisdiction. But at present BDA can't give approval because it has no jurisdiction in view of the HC order," said BDA secretary Shreekant Kabi.
Conceding that new housing project plans were facing problem because of the ongoing impasses, Kabi said the matter will be hopefully resolved soon.