When the giving stops, so does the taking.
We all woke up to the news about Chennai Silks building burning down to ashes and the media going nuts pointing fingers at various government departments for allowing such a huge building without proper regulation, be it CMDA or the fire department or any other department. This would be a trending topic for the next few days before we jump into another issue. No one points the finger at themselves for being the silent party/spectator to the offence. If only we had the brains to boycott such businesses who do not respect the law, we would have had a better place. Not to mention the Govt authorities who are a mute spectator to the entire drama.
I recently bought a flat with India Builders, allegedly one of the leading builders in Chennai. There are a total of 6 flats, out of which 5 belong to the land owners with whom the builder is doing a joint venture and am the only soul from outside. Sometime earlier this year, it came to my knowledge that the builder has plans to carry out some unauthorized construction on the flat in the third floor and some deviations.
I raised this issue and concern with the Director of India Builders – Mr.Uttam Kumar who brushed it off as a minor deviation and that there should be no issues with the CMDA as they are taken care off. It was shocking when I was informed by him that it is not necessary for him to inform me as a flat buyer about the unauthorized constructions or deviations and went to the extent of promising me a written undertaking that no issues will be raised by CMDA. (I knew then that this is not coming anytime – Thanks to the law degree)
Since the day I raised the issue, they started to delay the work in my flat and as much as possible create complications even for the simplest of the matters. I was closely monitoring the work carried out in the building and there was nothing unusual. I had an opportunity to meet the other Director of India Builders Mr.Thambikalaignan sometime in March if my memory serves me right and I once again expressed my concern that I do not want any unauthorized constructions or deviations in the building. I was only reassured that they have done several buildings and have never faced any issue from CMDA. Neither did I receive an undertaking from India Builders. Meanwhile, I continued to keep a look out for any unauthorized constructions and there was none. On March 30, 2017 we received the completion certificate from CMDA.
On April 4, I heard sounds from the third floor and upon inspecting, I was shocked to see that they were demolishing a wall and the parapet wall of the open terrace area. As per the approved plan there were two open terrace areas. However, after getting the completion certificates, the walls were demolished to include the open terrace areas as part of their living area. Then they demolished the wall between the bedroom and the balcony making the balcony as part of the bedroom. I immediately raised this issue with India Builders and obviously there was no response. Instead the owner visited us to tell us how we should not mind for such small things and if objected how he can object to my 6 year old son playing in his car park area. I was like, WOW!
They put the unauthorized construction work on hold and sat and cracked a plan to harass me. They locked me out of my flat on the ground that I need to pay the balance amount of about 4% of the total cost to even access my flat, filed a caveat in the High Court (at least they guessed that they are gonna get their ass kicked), delayed completion of the work in my flat, did not bother to respond to my email etc. I should agree that they were quite successful in diverting my attention that I had to focus on getting my flat keys than be worried about what they are constructing. Days flew by and I finally managed to occupy the flat on May 5, 2017, even before they finished the flat but expecting them to complete the flat was plain foolish. Then I had to leave to Barcelona for a conference and I returned last week. Meanwhile they have gone ahead and sealed one of the the open terrace area.
What’s shocking is the confidence the builder has on the authorities of the CMDA not raising an issue on unauthorised constructions and deviations. Secondly the malafide intention of building fake walls for the sole purpose of obtaining completion certificate and thereafter continue with the unauthorized constructions and deviations without an iota of fear of the law.
I will now have to move to the CMDA and if nothing happens, move to the High Court and am sure it would take years to see the light but I believe that this is the right thing to do.
If you are aware of any such issues and have actively stopped them from doing so, please do comment below your experience.