Noida Extension classic case of killing a micro market

Bottom Line: Greater Noida West (Noida Extension) is a classic case of how a high potential zone of affordable housing could be killed by the collective callousness of administration, police and builders. Ravi Sinha shares his experience of the market from ground zero.

What kills a property market? The answer is not that simple. But if you wish to experience it, then welcome to Greater Noida West that is known as Noida Extension in popular parlance. Here it is the collective callousness of builders, administration and the police that exhibits impeccable capability to defeat India’s ever increasing urbanization and migration to cities.

It is 7.30 in the evening and not a late night in summer season by any stretch of imagination. But every evening I am forced to remove my gold chain and bracelet before going out of the apartment. Reason: Rampant broad day chain snatching in the locality. The nights are even more darker for a locality where nearly 3 lakh apartments are supposed to be home of the middle class. 

Almost every week there is more than one incident, reported and often unreported as the residents have resigned it to their fate. A police complaint does not lead to any investigation or recovery. Added to that, there is this widespread fear of being attacked by the local goons for filing a police complaint.

By the late evening the area bears a deserted look. Local youths with no source of livelihood are on prowl to pounce over what in their understanding is elite class living in apartments. And this so-called elite class is dawn to dusk EMI serving class, helpless to save the little bit of luxury showered on the family with hard earned money.  

Now you may ask what is builders’ fault in this? In any given stretch of the market where 15 housing projects were launched some 7-10 years back, hardly couple of projects are partly occupied and the rest waiting for buyers’ patience to be over. The deserted roads are an open invitation to the miscreants in the absence of even the routine police patrolling.

Had the projects been delivered and people started living over there, the density would have gradually changed the dynamics of the city, as it has been in many parts of the world.  But with most of the projects incomplete after more than 7 years of launch, and the builders least bothered, the market is sitting on a time bomb. The patience of the gullible home buyers could be over sooner than later.

The question is whether the builders, government agency and the police are waiting for the market to be in the national news for some extremely unfortunate incident? Will the judicial intervention in this market wait for something that would shake the national conscience? Irony died thousand deaths in this market when the Supreme Court said that home buyers can’t wait indefinitely and a period of seven years is beyond what is reasonable. In this market a delivery within seven years is termed as decent track record.

The justification of delays on part of the builders is shameless, to say the least. “Which project is not behind schedule?” is the tag line of defence in this part of the world. It is noteworthy that in the very same micro market there are a couple of projects that have been delivered before the given timeline. So, a justification of the government agency behind delays & denials of approvals does not hold true in most of the cases.

If the government agency, in this case Greater Noida Authority, is the only guilty party in delaying the projects then how come some of the projects have been delivered before schedule.

It is not that the government agencies in general and Greater Noida Authority in particular can be absolved of their responsibilities. Not taking action against project delays is itself a crime and negligence of duty on part of the officials.

But more than the government officials it is the builders who are at fault. When you know that the project can not be delivered before 7 years then why do you give a timeline of 3 years and 6 months as grace period? Even with the baggage of proven delays, this continues to be a standard practice project after project. Isn’t it intentional cheating to sell the inventory? 

Developers’ defence apart, an investigation by Track2Realty finds that most of the developers apply for OC (Occupancy Certificate) much before the basic services are in place. Needless to say, such projects wait for years before a formal OC is granted. But the developer gets an escape route that my project has been delayed due to delay in getting the approvals. It also is a defence against paying delay penalty on part of the builder.  

It is a different matter that one RTI is enough to get to know from the government agencies as to why the OC was not granted for so long. But with most of the buyers in affordable housing not having financial and legal bandwidth, who would challenge a mighty builder in court who has better financial muscle power and legal help. Media, of course, is advertising hungry to raise any serious question.   

It is not only with the large format projects, of say 100 acres, where the developer has gone beyond his execution capabilities. Even a small piece of land, as small as 4 acres, has not met the delivery timelines. A small project having the construction life cycle of 7-10 years is preposterous; it is a criminal negligence against home buyers. 

Irony is that the micro market that was touted to be the answer to the affordable housing needs of Delhi-NCR has today no custodian. Everyone blames the other and the poor home buyers only blame themselves for having invested their lifetime’s savings in this ‘once-will-develop’ market. Happily ever after is the fancy wish of the home buyers who can’t even think of exit, as the market has not appreciated and many of the projects even trading at below launch price in the secondary market.

The moot point today is what is the future of this market. It seems the government agencies, police and the builders are waiting for a disaster that could size them up and then only the market will shape up. Till then the market stands in future indefinite tense and the home buyers can only get tensed. 

PS: Names of defaulter builders have been withheld, but the soul itself is the conscience keeper of those who are reading this story. I rest my case…

Track2Realty is an independent media group managed by a consortium of journalists. Starting as the first e-newspaper in the Indian real estate sector in 2011, the group has today evolved as a think-tank on the sector with specialized research reports and rating & ranking. We are editorially independent and free from commercial bias and/or influenced by investors or shareholders. Our editorial team has no clash of interest in practicing high quality journalism that is free, frank & fearless.  

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