Maharashtra is on the path to become the first state in India to form a conciliation committee under the new Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) that will have representation from both the builders and consumer groups to sort out complaints.
The conciliation committee will mediate between two parties and help resolve their issues amicably so that the need to take the dispute before the housing regulator does not arise. Only when it fails to settle the issues to the saitisfaction of both parties can either of the parties challenge the decision and lodge a complaint with the state regulator. Officials said it is entirely voluntary and the conciliation can only be initiated when the complainant and builder both willingly agree to it.
“The panel should start functioning in the next three months,” said state RERA chairman Gautam Chatterjee, adding that it would help build trust between purchasers and developers. Last week, leading developers and consumer activists met state RERA officials to try and understand how the new committee will operate.
“Talks have progressed very well so far,” said consumer activist Shirish Deshpande of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP). “MGP is presently in consultation with organisations representing developers like NAREDCO and CREDAI-MCHI to work out the conciliation scheme about which enabling provision exists in RERA Act,” he said.
Deshpande said that the proposed conciliation scheme will be an Alternate Disputes Redressal (ADR) mechanism to facilitate “fair and honourable settlements between aggrieved home buyers and builders without having to resort to expensive, time-consuming and exasperating litigation.”
Developer Rajan Bandelkar, vice-president of Naredco, said majority of the disputes are minor and can be resolved through mediation. “Intention is to sort out the dispute before it leads into an ugly quarrel,” he added.
The draft scheme envisages two panels of conciliators—one panel will be of builders where total 10 persons will be nominated by NAREDCO and MCHI-CREDAI. On the other panel, MGP will nominate its 10 members to represent consumers.
“Since it will be a mutual settlement and will be authenticated by MahaRERA, it will have sanctity, authenticity and finality without getting dragged into endless appeals,” said Deshpande. Experts said this will also reduce pressure on MahaRERA and on consumer courts.
Meanwhile, officials said most of the over 13,300 projects registered in the state are ongoing projects and only 450 are new ones. Builders had earlier wanted ongoing projects to be kept out of the ambit of the new real estate law. Total projects registered in the state include two lakh plots and about 15.5 lakh apartments and offices.