For Dr SL Dhingra, professor emeritus with the Indian Institute of Technology — Bombay, the situation cannot be more ironic.
Apt at solving intricate engineering puzzles for the past 35 years, Dhingra is at loss on how to tackle his housing problem due to the alleged harassment by Sailee Developers. Claiming ownership dispute, the developer has for the past eight years, stalled construction on the seventh floor of Prathamesh Galaxy, a housing complex at Powai Vihar. With no sign of the developer relenting, Dhingra is all set to become homeless this September.
Dhingra and his son had booked two flats in the complex for Rs35 lakh in 2001. After six floors were completed, construction of the complex, expected to house 150 shops and 350 flats, was discontinued.
“As my contract with the IIT expires in September, I will have to vacate the staff quarters. Where would I stay then?” said Dhingra.
Incidentally, this IIT professor is not the only one facing this kind of harassment. Neeta Pant, a widow, is also among the 150-odd buyers. “Despite paying the amount for the flat and having the allotment letter, I am still residing in a rental flat. The developer was expected to give possession of the flat in 2005. Whenever I went to their office, they just gave some excuse,” she said.
A few of the buyers have taken their money back, but most of them want the houses saying the escalation is double in the current scenario. They suspect that the builder wants the property back — possibly to sell it at high rates to new customers. “Going by the track record of the builder, who has been booked in cases by the EOW, he can do anything to dupe people,” alleged some buyers.
Mangesh Sawant, the developer, said he will start construction after the ownership dispute is settled. “I could not construct further as the civic body had given me permission up to seven floors. But I do not see anything wrong in booking flats for the upper floors. This happens in every project in the city.”
Having waited for eight years, the affected allottees, who formed ‘Prathamesh Galaxy Members Welfare Association’, are set to take legal recourse.
The members recently had a harrowing time. After attempts to get the builder to commit on a date of completion failed, they decided to meet at the project site. They were greeted by some 30 goons, allegedly sent by the developer. The Powai Police immediately rounded up the goons. The developer claimed that they were sent by the residents.