It’s been exactly four months since February 9, when the two-member bench of the Supreme Court announced that the forest land issue will be heard by a larger bench.
However, seeing no signs of formation of the three-member bench, affected residents are now planning to approach the Chief Justice to expedite their case. “We are approaching the Chief Justice to request for an early constitution of the bench and fast-track disposal of our case,” said Prakash Padikkal, president, Hillside Residents Welfare Association.
The worst affected in the forest land issue are home buyers who booked flats in the Mulund-Nahur area, with the fate of as many as 75,000 apartments hanging in the balance. Malathi Krishnan, who booked a flat in Runwal Group’s Runwal Infinity project, says, “We invested our hard-earned savings and are saddled with EMIs on loans that we took to make payments to the builder. And now the builder has washed his hands off the project, leaving us to fend for ourselves.”
In Runwal Infinity alone, more than 180 flats were sold and with construction work coming to a halt ever since the courts stayed projects on forest land, the home buyers are caught in a Catch-22 situation. “Neither are we getting the homes for which we have paid more than half the amount, nor is the developer considering our plea to give us a home in some other project,” said another Runwal Infinity home buyer, who added that his biggest fear is that the builder will slap delayed payment charges as soon as work on the project resumes.
Another cause for concern is the deterioration of the semi-constructed buildings over the past four years since work ground to a halt. “The buildings are standing incomplete, open to rain and harsh weather conditions,” said Krishnan.
On their part, the developers maintain that they are doing all they can. “We are open to giving the refund to any buyer who wants to cancel the booking,” said Sandeep Runwal, director, Runwal Group, adding that refunds have already been given to 25 home buyers who have cancelled their bookings in the past two years.
When asked if interest was paid to these buyers, Runwal said that the company’s ‘due process’ was followed. “Most of the buyers want to wait till the legal process gets resolved and they will get their homes,” said Runwal, adding that it is also not possible to give the buyers flats in other projects due to lack of availability.