Thursday, 30 April 2015

Realty bill deferred in RS; Oppn wants it sent to select panel

The government on Wednesday deferred introduction of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013, as there was no consensus among political parties in the Rajya Sabha, where the government does not enjoy a majority. Venkaiah Naidu, minister for urban development, said he would consult political parties and address their concerns so that the Bill could be taken up next week and passed in this session.

However, Opposition parties such as Samajwadi Party (SP), Janata Dal (United), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), demanded that the Bill be sent to a Select Committee as the new Bill had “substantive changes” over the earlier United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Bill.     

While Naidu stressed the “urgency” in bringing in the legislation, as there was a need for a regulator for the real estate sector, Opposition members reiterated that the Bill had been “diluted". Congress’ Jairam Ramesh accused the government of “diluting the pro-consumer clauses of the UPA Bill.”

In the present Bill, developers will have to deposit 50 per cent of the money collected from buyers for a project within 15 days to a separate bank account, to be used only for construction of that scheme. However, in the  UPA Bill, 70 per cent of the amount had to be kept aside.

The government was averse to sending the Bill to a panel, as it would “delay” it. The government was on the back foot when even a “government friendly” party like the AIADMK raised objections.

AIADMK leader Navneeth Krishnan alleged the government has no jurisdiction and questioned its locus standi. Naidu rebutted it saying the attorney-general had already clarified that Parliament was competent to make laws on it.

Both the SP and the CPI(M) objected to the “haste” with which the government was pushing through legislations. “You made us clear the Payments and Settlements Bill, the coal Bill and so many other Bills within three to four days. There is a procedure of having a Bill sent to a committee to study it,“ said Naresh Agarwal of SP.

Naidu then recalled how the bill since the UPA regime had already gone through the Standing Committee route and the government had incorporated most of its recommendations.

As per the amended bill, developers both in residential and commercial sectors, will be required to register their projects with the regulatory authorities to be set up and will have to mandatorily disclose all information regarding the promoters, project, layout plan, schedule of development works, land status and status of statutory approvals.

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