Mumbai: Flats buyers hesitant after Forest Land Fiasco

After forest ruling, builders go extra mile to lure flat buyers

 Viju B I TNN

      Mumbai: “Not on forest land, title deed clear’’—screams an advertisement for flats in the newly-built Jaydeep Park Housing Complex, located at the Majiwada junction, Thane. A random check of advertisements for real estate in and around Thane and the northern suburbs reveals that developers are using such catch-phrases to assure and lure customers. 

     Such new assurances are being given by developers who have several projects lined up adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, where around 1.75 lakh flats were recently declared illegal by the Bombay high court, ruling that the buildings stood on forest land.

      Now, developers are going the extra mile to tell prospective buyers that their title deeds are clear and the property will be free from litigation. Real estate agents and builders admit that, following the court order, there has been a lull in the sale and registration of flats, including those that are adjoining the park but not on forest land.

        “The number of enquiries has gone down and there is uncertainty in the market,’’ said Anil Gurnani, who runs Ayappa Real Estate Agency in Thane. He pointed out that till a few months ago, investors barely had a couple of days to decide whether to buy a flat or not after seeing it. “If they did not decide fast enough, the flats would be sold to others or the rates would be jacked up,’’ said Gurnani. 

      Not anymore. “With thousands of flats lying vacant adjacent to the national park in both the eastern and western suburbs, it’s the buyers who now have the edge in this regard,’’ said Mohan Shah, a real estate consultant based in Malad.

      Freebies—such as free pick-up for prospective buyers from the nearest railway station to the site—are also being provided by builders. “Earlier, the developers never bothered to return calls as they were inundated with enquiries. But things have changed now and they are in constant touch with us,’’ Shah said. 

     Real estate consultants say that over 50% of the buildings that have come up on Ghodbunder Road are on forest land. “There are absolutely no flat sales in this area. There is a general lull in the market,’’ said Hitesh Shah of Spaces and Places, Pokhran Road, Thane.

      In Thakur Village, Kandivli, 85% of the buildings are on forest land. “There is a 5-15% correction in rates. It is advisable for buyers to wait a few more months for the rates to come down by at least 20%,’’ said Harold D’Sa of Bhoomi Real Estate Consultants, Kandivli.






Judiciary: Should be more Transparent

Is Judiciary hard on others but soft on its own personnell?

RTI appeal exposes SC’s resistance to transparency


      New Delhi. CJI, Justice K G Balakrishnan was party to the attempt to fob off the RTI application by claiming in effect that the court’s central public informatin officer (CPIO) could not ask for the information that was lying in the CJI’s office on whether the 1997 resolution on periodic declaration by judges of their assets was being implemented.

        In keeping with the CJIapproved note, the CPIO wrote his formal reply under RTI on that very day, November 30, 2007. The documentation behind the CPIO’s reply and the CJI’s approval of the evasion came to light thanks to another RTI application seeking disclosure of the file notings.

      It has exposed the apex court’s resistance to transparency: Though the CJI can easily say whether judges have been filing declarations of their assets, the CPIO is made to claim under the RTI Act that the information is not in possession of the registry.

       The matter is now pending before the Central Information Commission, which will have to give a ruling on whether the Supreme Court could be allowed to make a distinction between its registry and the office of the CJI in an obvious bid to confer immunity on the latter from any obligation under the RTI Act.

       If the justification offered for stonewalling the question on assets is taken to its logical conclusion, the CPIO for the Supreme Court cannot answer questions related to the CJI’s office and Justice Balakrishnan will therefore have to appoint a separate CPIO for himself.

        The RTI Act does not exempt the CJI from its purview.

Civil service needs reform not pay hike

 Civil service needs reform not pay hike


          THE recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission received a heady welcome when they were announced. But a look at the fine- print has revealed several serious anomalies, several deliberately designed so as to ensure the supremacy of the Indian Administrative Service.

        The armed forces are livid at the way the recommendations have been structured, and the other specialist services like the police and the railways, have their own complaints. This is what makes the Union Cabinet’s Friday decision to refer the problem to the Committee of Secretaries, almost all of whom belong to the IAS, a bit of a joke.


        The committee which is meant to be an informal body has long exercised extra- constitutional authority in the government by vetting all proposals that go to the Cabinet. In many ways, the problem of governance in India is the consequence of the outdated system of administration based on the IAS. Despite the fact that they get quality intake, which includes engineering and medicine graduates, the service has failed to be an effective delivery mechanism for good governance.


       It has degenerated into a kind of nomenklatura system, favoured by the Communist party in the erstwhile Soviet Union, through which key jobs in government are reserved for the service. Over the years, scientists and doctors have resented having to kowtow to generalist IAS officers who run the ministries.


       This system has expanded to ensure that even specialised jobs such as the head of the Prasar Bharti and Air India, have been kept as a preserve of the service. Rules of business have been written to ensure that non- IAS people are kept away from certain jobs, as UP Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh learnt last month.


        It is to maintain this pre- eminence that the IAS has systematically manipulated the recommendations of successive pay commissions. They have ensured that no one, be he a top scientist, engineer or academic, is paid more than an IAS officer.


      This is the huge anomaly that prevents government from attracting talent, or for that matter ensuring that the government is professionally run. Instead of proceeding, the Cabinet will be well advised to look at the Pay Commission recommendations holistically.


       It should constitute a Group of Ministers to look into the issues of parity among services, that of pay scales for talented specialists and ways of boosting the efficiency of government managers. Twenty first century India cannot function with a nineteenth century civil service.


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MPs : Do they have a right to misbehave?

Glorified MPs

        THE fracas over the war of words between an Air India pilot and Lok Sabha MP from Kerala, Abdul Wahab, is yet to end but it should serve as another reminder to our exalted representatives of the people that they cannot always get away with boorish behaviour. The Indian Pilots Association has demanded an apology from the MP who not only insulted the pilot of his Dubai- bound flight calling him a “ glorified driver” but, more importantly, compromised the safety and security of his fellow passengers by barging into the cockpit of the plane.


         What the MP forgot is that while he may be the lord of the people, the pilot is king inside his aircraft. And there are good reasons for this. Does the MP know about air rage and dispruptive behavior, and that the pilot has complete authority to disembark a passenger if he finds the passenger a safety hazard on board?


         Many countries in the world and several airlines have drawn up a Disruptive Passenger Protocol which sets out responsibilities and response for the crew, victim, and airline. Of course, this is normally reserved for drunk and disruptive behaviour, but they include abusive and foul- mouthed passengers too.


      While Mr Wahab may be booked for disruptive behaviour, there was nothing that the pilot did which prevented the MP from exercising his functions as a parliamentarian. So, the threat of using a privilege motion to punish the pilot does not hold water.


      Wahab came up with his own version of the event. This cuts little ice because the ways of our VIPs are well known, especially their proclivity for delaying aircraft and trains, and misusing public sector units as though they are their personal property and their workers, their personal staff.