The FIRE DEPARTMENT OBJECTIONS report on Raheja Vedaanta residential project is EXPLOSIVE!! In addition to exposing how senior IAS officers abdicated their duty, it exposes how Mr Navin Raheja & Raheja Developers took the buyers, public servants, courts, organizations like NAREDCO, and the mass media for a grand ride. Mr Raheja has left a toxic mess for all the unfortunate people who trusted him, or who were compromised by him, to clean up after him.
If you are planning to buy a property, or are an owner of an under-construction property, the story of how a group of buyers have taken Raheja Developers, and its MD Navin Raheja, HEAD-ON is a MUST READ. If you are getting ready to take possession of your property from a builder, then this is essential reading for you. You won’t find this news in the mass print or electronic media, for sad but obvious reasons, but this explosion will soon reverberate throughout Indian Real Estate.
One of the most systematic and organized efforts to take on an unscrupulous builder is underway. The big question is will the current Chairman of NAREDCO, Mr Navin Raheja, have to face arrest if the case is taken to its logical conclusion. Over 600 Raheja buyers have already filed 25 cases at the National Consumer Commission (NCDRC) against Raheja Developers, and the fight for justice is spilling over on to many other platforms. This story of Raheja Buyers is going to be bigger than the landmark Belaire & Park Place Buyers fight against DLF at the Competition Commission of India, where mighty DLF was penalized Rs 630 crores.
- FIRs against builders are no big deals now-a-days, with FIRs being filed by the Police against Unitech, Emaar-MGF, Era/ Adel Landmarks, Vigneshwara, Pal Builders, SKM, etc. Police have even arrested builders like Sunil Dahiya of Vigneshwara and Hem Singh Bharana of Era/Adel Landmarks.
The crux of the matter is that Raheja Developers is forcing buyers to take possession of apartments in projects that are incomplete and unsafe. The buyers are also being denied delay compensation, and are being saddled with escalation costs, increased super area, and many other additional charges. Now many buyers are putting their foot down, and are hauling the builder over coals. These buyers are poised to extract compensation from Raheja Developers that may be in excess of Rs 200 crore per project. Like a rat on a dissection table, the work of Raheja Developers is being analyzed in fine detail, and an air-tight case being built against the builder. The knowledge gleaned from this meticulous exercise can be used by buyers suffering at the hands of other builders, as many of the crimes of Rahejas are the standard stock of the Real Estate Sector.
We bring you this story at great personal risk. Rahejas have already filed a case against us at the Delhi High Court for writing against them. They have also filed a complaint against us with the Gurgaon Police to prevent us from writing, and to remove everything that we have written against them from the world wide web. And, most probably unconnected to Rahejas, our car was stolen last month from right outside our office. We have filed an FIR for that. We have also filed a police complaint, that will hopefully get converted into an FIR, against unknown persons for cybercrimes, hacking, and destroying some of our articles and videos about Raheja Developers.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. THE TALE OF THE FAKE FIRE FITNESS CERTIFICATE
When questions were raised about the validity of the Fire & Occupation Certificates, Mr Navin Raheja was brazen about it. He challenged buyers to get them checked anywhere, and told them to be ready to face dangerous consequences when the allegations were shown to be wrong. The allegations did not turn out to be wrong. And they raise serious question about how perverted can a man becomoe to ignore the safety of his own buyers.
The letter of objections from the Fire Department about Raheja Vedaanta raises some serious issues. A similar letter is expected on Raheja Atharva, but the matter is currently stuck for the last 3 weeks at the desk of Mr Ravi Sihag. https://app.box.com/s/wzpxik6x7wc4g0vbv9i0f5fyfqxmi7vf The first bombshell is that FIRE NOC for Raheja Vedaanta & Raheja Atharva has already lapsed, and Rahejas have not yet even bothered to apply for renewal in both the projects of Atharva & Vedaanta. This is despite the fact that Rahejas have handed over possession to some apartments, and around twenty families (of the total approx 1200 apartments) are already living there in unsafe conditions.
Even if Rahejas were to apply for a renewal of the FIRE NOC, there are some really tough conditions they have to meet. Amongst them:
- Missing Connecting Roads to the Vedaanta & Atharva complexes! In the drawings that Rahejas submitted there are supposed to be 12m wide road to Vedaanta, and 24m wide road to Atharva (though 2 Karam road is provided inexplicably in Town & Country Planning licence). But, in reality, there are only 3m (or 11ft) Kuchha roads! Without the road how are Fire Engines supposed to reach into the complex if a fire breaks out, and these minimum road widths are specified in the NBC Building Guidelines. The acquisition of the land and development of the roads is the responsibility of RAHEJA DEVELOPERS, and not the responsibility of HUDA (Haryana Urban Development Authority) as Mr Navin Raheja has been ranting recently. So, the first question is was the Fire certificate obtained despite this violation, and further how was the Occupation Certificate obtained? And why has Mr Raheja not developed the roads so far?
- There is a gas bank in Atharva which has not been approved !! https://app.box.com/s/ke4ffg1r4wivc9xm339cj95w4jjo6gym and video of the top Fire Official denying that there was any approval for the LPG gas bank here https://app.box.com/s/bjtodqhm47dhtoe3rl0zxeff5yhckswz Imagine a safety hazard of LPG Gas cylinders stacked together ….
- In Atharva and Vedaanta there were supposed to be 5,00,000 liters underground static water storage tanks, but only 1,50,000 liter tanks were found during the inspection. This capacity is inadequate to deal with serious emergencies.
The rest of the letter of Objections by the Fire Department essentially recounts that the projects is suffering from serious deficiencies, and is a safety hazard. The FIRE NOC of Raheja will not be provided until Rahejas either make the road, or give an acceptable timeline to the complainants; which given the proclivity of Navin Raheja looks to be a long stretch.
— GurgaonScoop (@gurgaonscoop) July 27, 2015
The apartments in Raheja Atharva, Raheja Shilas, Raheja Vedaanta, Raheja Vedas, and Raheja Vedaanta Floors are tragedies waiting to happen. It is possible that Mr Navin Raheja may be be booked under IPC 336 and 34, and also under Sections 31 and 32 (1) & (2) of the Haryana Fire Act of 2009. According to the IPC Act 336, Whoever does any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life or the personal safety of others, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to two hundred and fifty rupees, or with both. These sections also anticipate conspiracy of various officers in these Acts endangering life or personal safety of others.
- What role did the CRM department and Ms Jyoti Anand have in misleading the buyers.
- And what role did Marketing Manager, Mr Harinder Dhillon, have in mis-selling these projects.
- What role did the GM of Corporate Communications, Ms Dimple Bhardwaj, have in misguiding the media and public about such acts.
- Who are the other people in the company who have played an active role in deceiving the buyers , media, and the govt authorities.
Despite an avalanche misdeeds descending upon Rahejas, instead of backing down they are becoming more and more brazen – and virtually extortionists. Recently, Rahejas have raised demands of Rs 15-20 lakhs each from over 1200 buyers in Vedaanta and Atharva. That amounts to Rs 180+ crores over and above what the buyers had catered for! With over Rs 70 lakhs to 1 crore already paid to Rahejas by the buyers, these new demands on increase of Super Area and Escalation costs are nothing but extortion. As Jeevan Prakash Sharma writes in his article on the Super Area Racket that “It’s nothing short of extortion,” and the applicable Indian Penal Code for that is IPC Section 383. Compare the Rs 180 crore amount to the extortion amounts demanded by dreaded gangsters like Neeraj Bawania and Vikas Lagarpuria, and you will see that Mr Navin Raheja is effectively the betaaj badshah of jurm ki duniya.
Somewhere in the quest for big money and great fortunes people lose their humanity, and so it seems has happened to Mr Navin Raheja. There are tragedies waiting to happen in the Raheja projects. As the Fire NOC won’t be renewed any time soon, what will happen to families that Raheja Developers have misled and deceived into taking possession. Some have already started living in the unsafe and incomplete apartments.
How can you explain Mr Raheja sending people to live in homes that are unsafe and incomplete. Where the fire safety equipment is defunct. Where help cannot each on a 3m kuchha road in emergencies. It is beyond being selfish. On the slippery slope, beyond a certain point, people who think of other people as objects can indulge in very narcissistic and dangerous behaviour. “The dark side of self-obsessed fraudsters is that they see other people as objects,” Ms Frankel is quoted in an article in the Economist on the “Biggest Fraud in History.” http://www.economist.com/news/christmas-specials/21568583-biggest-fraud-history-warning-professional-and-amateur-investors “It is not that they consciously ignore others’ feelings, as selfish people do; rather, others do not figure at all. This is what makes narcissists such as MacGregor really dangerous. He showed no concern for his settlers. They were merely an extra source of funds …”
Over a few short years, esp after the launch of Raheja Atlantis in 2004, the broke and self-confessed failed scooter dealer has risen to a position of immense personal wealth. In addition, for the future they have in hand “executable and sanction projects over 60 million sq. ft. & with projects spanning over 900 acres of land at various stages of deliberations” (see www.raheja.com/company-profile.asp) In other words, Mr Navin Raheja is stinking rich. At even a conservative estimate of Rs 1000 psf profit margin in future projects, from the 60 million sqft in hand he is looking at profits in excess of Rs 6000 crore, and cash flow many times more, and plus plus more. Then is the even larger income from the 900 acres of land in “various stages” of deliberation. And all of this by “ghoomaing topi” from one person to the other, and using OPM. (Other Peoples Money)
Another dead project in ruins is the vanity-named ‘Navin Minar will be iconic’ (three times the height of the ancient architectural wonder Qutub Minar) (http://www.millenniumpost.in/NewsContent.aspx?NID=18491 archived here https://archive.is/yRVQc ) that was supposed to come up at the site of the Kathputli Colony. Six years ago in 2009, Mr Raheja made big & outlandish claims (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX2x9tcsCkU ), but even today in 2015 no work has started on his “ICONIC” Navin Minar.
In addition to unrealistic bluster, Rahejas have gone a step further into pulling publicity stunts; no doubt encouraged by their new marketing agency Decomplex. http://www.exchange4media.com/advertising/decomplex-marketing-bags-creative-mandate-for-raheja-developers_61010.html On it’s home page Decomplex recommends “Publicity Stunts,” and in the Revanta video above, the publicity stunt was to price one penthouse at Rs 1,00,000 per sqft, compared to the rest which were priced at an average of Rs 8,000 per sqft. Watch the video to see the lame excuses that Nayan Raheja gives to the anchor about the pricing rationale here http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/real-estate/prime-property-penthouse-at-rs-100-crore_1349850.html
Publicity stunts are also pulled by La Sagoreeka with whom Rahejas have a tie up for furnishings in their Raheja Ayana project. In a “bizarre marketing gimmick” a gold plated Lamborghini car was driven on to a 22 seater dinner table. The aim was to advertise the dinner table! http://gulfnews.com/xpress/dubai/life-style/dinner-anyone-1.1519097
But all these publicity stunts of Decomplex are just trying to put lipstick on a pig. You can’t cover you problems with farcical answers like the “Fire Drill at Atharva” https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fire+drills+atharva or “Fire Drill at Vedaanta” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvEzpm137tQ to address the serious questions about the FIRE NOC. Look at the poor quality of this video and compare it to the rest of their “marketing” videos; it just goes to show how much attention they pay to safety.
A better video at showing the situation of the FIRE NOC in Raheja Atharva & Shilas was done by India News TV Channel. They had interviews with the DTP, Buyer, and Raheja Employee. They showed the inspection of the fire fighting systems and equipments in the Raheja complex, and found them to be non-functioning on-camera. In approx four minutes of video by Yogendra Bhaduria of India News (Metro News) the ground reality is captured well. Kudos to them for the effort. But, surprisingly this important story was not picked up by any of the major print newspapers, or even other electronic channels. The story is not small, it is just inconvenient. It is inconvenient story for the likes of Hindustan Times & Times of India who take large amounts of advertising and sponsorship money from the builders (who in turn take it from the buyers!) One should not be surprised by the continued silence Bureau Chiefs of the likes of Messrs Sanjeev Ahuja (HT) & Rao Jaswant Singh (TOI), but to hear them write about how buyers are “happy” in areas with no amenities, unfinished buildings, and creeky infrastructure is just SURREAL. A recent article by Sharmila Bhowmick in Times of India “No amenities, but the first movers in Noida’s new sectors are happy” is jaw dropping. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/No-amenities-but-the-first-movers-in-Noidas-new-sectors-are-happy/articleshow/48322530.cms Really, have these papers fallen so low to please their advertising and pocket-money masters – the builders?
What Sharmila Bhowmick writes in Times of India needs to be so quoted extensively, because the word “happy” is so jarring with what she describes.
With the mass print media on its knees in front of the builders, Raheja has no one to show him his true face. The media is busy publishing his ads and ridiculous advertorials which are full of bluster, lies, and falsehoods. A recent advertisement by Raheja Developers in Times Property is trumpeting – “Impeccable Record of Quality And Delivery” which is a lie, and so is “Projects Ready For Delivery” a LIE. “Marvels In The Making” are actually disasters in the making, and tragedies waiting to happen.
Articles published in HT Estates like “Raheja Developers starts delivery of over 1,000 apartments on Dwarka Expressway” https://archive.is/YWR82 and “Raheja builds a floor in just five days at Revanta in Gurgaon” https://archive.is/HXyTA are just ways in which print media is helping Rahejas Developers fool more and more buyers. Builders like Raheja Developers are getting a lot of help from their friends in the mass print and electronic media.
The major source of Mr Navin Raheja’s feeling on invincibility has been the help extended to him beyond the call of duty by the public servants, esp during the Bhupinder Singh Hooda raaj. This combined with an obsequious media provided the fuel for his spectacular rise to immense riches. Buyers have made direct allegations against Mr Anurag Rastogi, IAS, for providing undue pecuniary benefits to Mr Navin Raheja & Raheja Developers by providing false & premature Occupation Certificates. This has been a pattern of Mr Rastogi, wherein Occupation Certificates were provided to Atharva, Vedaanta, and even DLF Express Greens even though the projects were certifiably incomplete – and remain so even a year later …
After Mr Rastogi provided false Occupation Certificate to Raheja Atharva in June 2014, Mr Joe Saggar, a Raheja Vedaanta NRI buyer based in UK, wrote many emails to Mr Rastogi about the problems. Mr Rastogi ignored all the emails, and went ahead to give another false Occupation Certificate to Raheja Vedaanta in November 2014. Mr Saggar then went to meet Mr Rastogi in Chandigarh in December 2014 to apprise him of the problems with Vedaanta, but Mr Rastogi left office without meeting him, even though Mr Saggar had a confirmed appointment with Mr Rastogi. Mr Rastogi was transferred out of DGTCP in Feb 2015, but not before he had done considerable damage to thousands of buyers. And he had benefited builders to the tune of thousands of crores. Mr Anurag Rastogi’s case seems to be a fit case for investigation by CBI and Vigilance. If Mr Raj Singh Gehlot of Ambience Infrastructure could be charged by CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) under Prevention of Corruption Act for collusion with public servants, why not Mr Navin Raheja. See http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/SC-notice-to-Ambience-chairman-Gehlot-for-VV-illegal-construction/articleshow/47918709.cms In Gurgaon, the District Commissioner Mr TL Satyaprakash was recently seen launching the “Gurgaon Arbitration Council” for resolving builder-buyer disputes, with Mr Navin Raheja by his side.
The problem with GAC is that the DC is abdicating his responsibility by outsourcing the dispute resolution to the builder lobby of Mr Navin Raheja and REDCO (another builder lobby). How can builders against whom complaints are being filed sit on the very same panel which is supposed to act on the complaints? See a longer analysis here http://comments.gurgaonscoop.com/2015/07/16/gurgaon-arbitration-council-gac-ombudsman-a-trapdoor-or-trapdoor-forbuyerso/
Actions like these by the Executive branch of the Govt have led buyers to lose faith in them. Even the Legislative has failed the buyers as the drafting of laws to protect them seem to be in a perpetual limbo. Thus, two out of three pillars of democracy have failed the buyers. Even the fourth estate, or the media has failed the buyers. The only ray of hope has been from the third pillar of democracy – the Judiciary. The Consumers Disputes Redressal Commissions, and the courts, have recently give some precedent setting judgements in favour of the aggreived and harrassed buyers. That is probably why over 600 Raheja buyers, of Atharva, Vedaanta, Navodaya, and Atlantis have filed 25 cases against the developer in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
It has now become viable option to approach the Consumer Courts in disputes against the builder. A new breed of lawyers who are well versed in real estate issues is emerging, and the fear that they will be compromised by the well funded builder has also been mitigated. When you have 50 buyers coming together to file a case, the fees of the lawyer can be split amongst the members. Some of the cases against Raheja Developers started with each buyer pooling as low as Rs 10,000 each. From a cost vs. benefit analysis it makes sense to go for a legal battle. The buyers in the Raheja cases stand to benefit to the tune of Rs 15-20 lakhs each, and the original allottees of 2007/2008 stand to benefit to the tune of Rs 40 to 50 lakhs each. This is the scale of misdeeds of Navin Raheja led Raheja developers (no relation to the famous Raheja clans from South India). Today, it is not unreasonable for buyers to put Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,00,00 each to create a great war chest, given the potential benefits of fighting the builder to get their fair dues. When a buyers organization has Rs 1 to 3 crore in its kitty, it can take on the baddest of the builders.
- One low hanging fruit if the project is inordinately delayed, or the work on it has stalled, or the Agreement is too lop-sided in favour of the builder, is to seek compensation at parity with what the builder charges when the buyer defaults. There is enough precedence that the courts will set the one-sided Builder Buyer Agreements and award the aggreived buyer 18% yearly compensation if they want to exit the project, or 12% yearly compensation for delay if they are willing to accept delayed possession. See the relevant important National Consumer Commission Judgements are here https://app.box.com/s/nyyc6nel8o3lmzaem5wp5r2v4l8107rw You can search for other relevant judgements at http://cms.nic.in/ncdrcusersWeb/search.do?method=loadSearchPub and the current cases here. http://cms.nic.in/ncdrcusersWeb/login.do?method=caseStatus Everything that a smart consumer needs today is at his/her fingertips. Don’t hesitate to ask us for help if you need some.
- There is also a strong case that the money paid for parking may have to be refunded by the builders if challenged in the courts. This aspect needs to be tested in the courts, and there is a very good chance that it will found to have been illegally charged. That itself is worth Rs 4 to 6 lakhs per buyer.
- Another good benefit of suing the builder is that the project deficiencies can be minutely identified, and either the builder will have to bring them into compliance, or they will have to pay adequate compensation to the buyers.
- Then there is the future issue of increased FAR (Floor Area Ratio). If this gets increased, then on the same plot of land a higher number of apartments can be built in the future – either number of towers will increase or the number of floors per tower will increase. This will soon become a battle point between the builder and buyers. It has to be legally tested as to who will own the extra FAR – the buyers or the builders. There is a chance that the FAR may be increased along the metro corridor of NPR (Dwarka Expressway or Northern Peripheral Road) & SPR (Golf Course Road Extension or Southern Peripheral Road) as it has happened in Delhi recently.
There is also a strong case to file lawsuits against Raheja Developers. Their Builder Buyer Agreements reek of bad faith and ill intent. There are submarine clauses that the builder is now exploiting. There are unilateral and bad faith interpretations by the builder of the patently unfair Builder-Buyer Agreements. Further, the builder has underperformed on the design and promised specifications, and is extorting unreasonable charges from the buyers. The builders actions are mischevious and all about abusing an unequal relationship where buyers have already paid over 90% of the greed cost of the property.
Last year, 5 Raheja buyers got together and decided to file a case in the National Consumer Commission. By the time the case was filed in July 2014, the group had grown to 43 members. It is this case 250 of 2014 that got the snowball rolling, and within the span of 1 year, over 25 cases have been filed at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Their story was covered the Mint Newspaper recently about how the buyers were unwiling to take possesion of incomplete and unsafe buildings.
Mint had earlier covered Raheja projects in 2009, and the issues were similar. http://www.livemint.com/Companies/igXXjgecbLf47Yd4fiEnEM/Real-estate-companies-face-ire-as-homebuyers-band-together.html There the buyer mentioned in the 2009 article was Nitin Goel, who eventually did file a case against Rahejas in Mumbai. I flew to Mumbai at his request and submitted an Affidavit against Rahejas in his case. Interestingly, the first party in Mr Goel’s case was, not Rahejas, but Anuj Puri and Raminder Grover of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). He had booked his Raheja Vedaanta apartment through them, after being misled into believing that this was the Mumbai Raheja. Further, JLL misguided him about the construction status. JLL also moonlights as a broker for builders such as Rahejas, as you can see here https://www.jllresidential.co.in/PropertySearch.aspx
We also faced JLL in the CCI versus DLF case in 2011. https://www.rebelmouse.com/ccivsdlf/ The real story of how Jones Lang LaSalle caused the massive defeat of DLF in the Competition Commission of India (CCI) still needs to be told. They created a report based on fake numbers and questionable theories which we destroyed at the CCI. Once DLF had submitted the flawed JLL report the damage could not be undone. The flawed JLL and Genesis reports that eventually led to DLF losing the case are with us and can be shared on request. Our evisceration of their flawed reports, that led to the landmark judgement against the biggest builder in India is pages 4 through 10 here. http://www.scribd.com/doc/57893914/DLF-vs-Belaire-Park-Place-Owners-Report-by-Qubrex-Submitted-to-CCI-Competition-Commission-of-India-Final-Report-May-08-2010-Completed-Projects#scribd
The case of Mr Nitin Goel was eventually settled out-of-court, to the satisfaction of Mr Goel. This settlement out of court after a bruising fight was the pet strategy of Navin Raheja so that there were no fingerprints of his losses in the legal system. That way in case after case he could position himself as a blemish-free builder who was being tormented by the few greedy complainants. This Raheja strategy worked till the Wg Cdr Alok Verma & 43 Others filed the case in July 2014, after which there was no turning back to the black mark on his reputation.
- Delay compensation penalty is being denied. Raheja conducted a fraud poll, and then claimed that majority of the buyers did not want possession in 2011, and so they claimed to have slowed the finishing work on the residential apartments. What a cock and bull story. Rahejas were trying to avoid paying even the paltry Rs 7 psf per month penalty they had committed in their Builder Buyer Agreement (amounting to 2-4% per annum for most buyers), and now they may end up paying 12-18% per annum in compensation based on a reading of recent NCDRC judgements.
- Super Area has been increased by approx 11%. And the escalation charges of 15% are being demanded. Calculations done by one of the buyers, Mr Joe Saggar, show that actually the prices of input fell 7% during the time period when Raheja Developers claim to have constructed the buildings. Thus, the combined effect is a 27.6% increase in the price of the apartment has no basis in reality – it is a figure pulled out from the thin air like a Magician. But, always remember, that behind the Magician’s apparent “magic” is deception, distraction, and a sleight of hand.
- Even though the buildings are incomplete and unsafe, and not fit for possession, Rahejas are trying to charge “holding charges” of Rs 5 psf per month till the time the buyer takes possession. How more Kafkaesque could the Raheja World become.
- Club charges (Rs 50,000 to 1,00,000) are illegally imposed for the use of a “Community Center,” and according to RTIs even the parking charges are illegal.
- Then is the whole drama of overcharging on things like electric meters, AC ducting etc. All these adhoc charges are a rip-off by the builder, and need to be stopped in the Consumer Court.
- Stamp Duty charges were collected from many buyers over a year ago, and Rahejas have been illegally holding and earning interest on it. According to the District Commissioner’s letter, he was to immediately refund it with interest, which has not been done in many cases.
- All this network of interconnected scams, and the technical issues of plans, changes, costing, and billing will be argued threadbare in the National Consumer Commission.
The buyers hope to stop this loot in the National Consumer Commission, and chances are they will. But they are only approx 300 strong. Around 1700 of the approx 2000 buyers are unaware of the Raheja cases in Atharva, Vedaanta, and Navodaya, and are being fleeced.
In absence of widespread dissemination of this knowledge of the cases, Raheja Developers is persisting with the extortionary demands, and betting that buyers not directly involved in the case, or far away, will not come to know about anything, and will succumb to their demands. Most of the unaware buyers will pay up and be losers. Many will lose out on lakhs of rupees of their hard-earned money that they deserve to keep. If only they could get to know about these ongoing cases against Navin Raheja & Raheja Developers.
The best way, and society’s answer, to reach a large audience is the mass print and electronic media. But, the current mass media is letting down all these buyers. Media is betraying the trust reposed in the newspapers and TV channels as the Fourth Estate of Democracy.
The Bureau Chiefs of Hindustan Times and Times of India are keeping silent, and helping Raheja in the process. Their media has let everyone down. No wonder the newspaper sells to the kabadi (scrap dealer) at a higher cost for the paper it is printed on, than it costs to buy the printed daily newspaper. Printing news (or un-news) on the paper seems to actually diminish the value of the paper.
The silence of the media in relation to the legal cases of Mr Navin Raheja and Raheja Developers is deafening. Is it not the responsibility of the media to inform the public about the things important to them.
There are thousands of buyers who are stakeholders in Raheja properties, and the legal cases are important for them.These property owners might lose lakhs of rupees by the correct information not reaching them. Even buyers in other properties should be informed so that they can apply some of the learnings in their own projects, and in dispute resolution with their builders.
And the crimes and misdemeanors of Navin Raheja and Raheja Developers are newsworthy too. More so because Mr Navin Raheja is the Chairman of NAREDCO (National Real Estate Development Council), and is a role model to other builders. Further, the stakes are very high running into hundreds of crore Rupees.
Yet the Bureau Chief of Hindustan Times & Times of India are strangely silent on the Raheja story. They seem to be happy reporting under their bylines the formation of the ridiculous Gurgaon Arbitration Council featuring Mr Navin Raheja, and yet are unable to write even a square inch against robber barons like him. And though the TV channels run to get Mr Navin Raheja’s sound bites, generally in his capacity as the Chairman of NAREDCO, they are strangely tongue-tied about his activities as Managing Director of Raheja Developers. There are a few good journalists, but most of the time their story gets killed at inception itself, or at the copydesk. To quantify this bias towards colored-truth, someone should do an analysis of the positive, future-oriented, and advertorial articles written for the builders in these two papers, versus the factual, informational, and negative news. We did not arrive at the low situation in real estate overnight, by we are willing to bet that none of that downward journey is reflected in the Gurgaon pages of either HT or TOI.
It is also not that the Bureau Chiefs are not aware of these important stories about Raheja. Their email boxes are choked with complaints from aggreived buyers, and unless the live like ostriches the stories are all around them too. The reason probably is that they make money (for the paper) by printing some news, and they also make money by ignoring some news. And that is how they have it their way, both ways.
But with or without the support of these “mass media” journalists, the Raheja buyers will overcome. After all they found each other to file hundreds of cases against Raheja developers. And, even the biggest victory of buyers in the DLF and CCI case happened without the help of the mass media. The media just played catch-up after the giant was felled. And, if the DLF Belaire and Park Place case has faded from the public consciousness, it is because those Associations decided to focus only on the legal process. If all you have is a hammer, every problem seems like a nail. Compared to their approach, the approach of the Raheja buyers is emergent, and is spreading to every platform – consumer, civil, criminal, EOW, Embassies, HUDA, Vigilance, Police, Fire Dept, DTCP, and CM, PMO, and Ministers.
Monetary fines in the Consumer Courts are not a deterrent to a builder like Raheja Developers. The money to be paid to some is always extracted / extorted from the remaining buyers. Even if Mr Navin Raheja realizes that he is batting on a weak wicket at the NCDRC, and is preparing himself to pay an average of Rs 30 lakhs to each of the 100 litigants, he is simultaneously busy extorting about 15 lakhs each from the remaining 300 buyers. So, at the end of the exercise he would have received Rs 45 crores, and paid out Rs 30 crore, coming out ahead by Rs 15 crore !! And, if the judges at the Consumer Court are a little lenient to him, he would come out ahead by more than Rs 15 crores!!
Anticipating the non-deterrence of monetary fines, the proposed Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill proposes jail terms for builders like Raheja Developers. The actions of the builder may not have resulted in visible spilling of blood, the acts are criminal nonetheless. And other company officials can also be made accountable under IPC Sections 34 and 120B.
FIRs and Jails for builders have been in the news recently. FIRs have been filed against Unitech, Emaar-MGF, Era/Adel Landmarks, SKM, Pal Builders, etc and MDs from real estate companies like Vigneshwara, Era/Adel Landmarks, Pal Builders, etc have also landed in Jail.
A lot of actions by Raheja Developers are also serious offences. And if a few honest public servants would look at the activities of this builder, there is a huge list they can begin with.
- The genesis of the projects like Atharva and Vedaanta itself was illegal, amounting to prelaunches and soft launches. The license issued by the DGTCP stipulates that no soft launch of the project is permitted, i.e., the developer cannot collect any advance prior to approval of the Building Plans, whereas in the case of Vedaanta residential project Raheja Developers had already collected advance and installment, and even executed the BBA on 13th April 2008, whereas the building plans were approved only on 18th June 2008. Rahejas had, thus, violated the terms of license.
- The builder has at the seeming “end” of his projects also indulged in illegalities. Rahejas have tried to pass of as fit for Occupation building that are incomplete and unsafe, and severely deficient in fire and safety issues. The builder can be booked under IPC Section 336 (Act endangering life or personal safety of others), and can also be booked under Sections 31 & 32 (1), (2) of the Haryana Fire Act 2009. The report of Objections from the Fire Department to Raheja Developers dated July 25, 2015squarely nails this.
- Mr Navin Raheja and Shri Anurag Rastogi, IAS could also be investigated under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 just like Mr Raj Singh Gehlot of Ambience Infrastructure is being booked by the CBI. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/SC-notice-to-Ambience-chairman-Gehlot-for-VV-illegal-construction/articleshow/47918709.cms Like Mr Gehlot, Mr Navin Raheja was also the beneficiary of undue pecuniary advantage to the tune of hundreds of crores from the likes of Shri Anurag Rastogi, IAS who facilitated the issuance of wrong Occupation Certificates.
- Raheja Developers has also committed PERJURY in the Courts of Justice (National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission) in various instances. For example, it was the Colonizer’s (Raheja Developers) responsibility to acquire land and develop connecting roads of atleast 12m, but the builder has intentionally lied to the Courts putting the onus of providing the roads on HUDA.
- Raheja developers have also done CHEATING AND MISCHIEF BY substantially revising building plans without the consent of the existing allottees. The builder also increased the super area in excess of 5% without the consent of the allottees, as was stipulated in the Builder-Buyers Agreement.
- The builder has also made EXTORTIONARY demands of payments to the tune of several lakhs each, from captive & trapped customers who had already paid him tens of lakhs (in many cases 90%+ of the cost of the apartments). The builder has also collected almost Rs 5 lakhs each from hundreds of customers towards the payment of stamp duty. And, after not having deposited the stamp duty in govt treasury, or having conveyed the property in favour of the buyer even after the lapse of over 1 year, the builder is illegally holding on to the money collected from hundreds of buyers.
- The builder also was busted in a sting operation by Cobrapost regarding black money, international hawala, and recording lower prices than what the property was sold at to cheat the state treasury.
- Raheja Developers have also been accused of orchestrating a Rs 1000+ crore scam with the Delhi Development Authority in the Slum Rehabilitation Project at Kathputli Colony in Delhi. BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi & AAP’s Ashish Khaitan have also called for a CBI probe into this issue.
- The builder has also run illegal Collective Investment Schemes in Sohna & Gurgaon, and also collected finance from the market without requisite approvals, via assured return schemes.
- The builder has also allegedly committed Cyber-Crimes, Identity Theft, Impersonation, Misrepresentation, Hacking, Defamation, Intimidation & Threats over Email & Phone as detailed in our complaint CC-505 at the Gurgaon Police Station. In return, Raheja Developers have filed a counter complaint against the authors based on fabricated evidence, forged documents, falsified financial accounts, makes false accusations to implicate innocents in serious offences, has important information omitted, and is designed to mislead public servants into using their lawful force wrongly against innocents.
When builders such as Raheja Developers, whose MD also holds the Chairmanship of NAREDCO (National Real Estate Development Council under the Aegis of Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India) indulge in such criminal acts, the confidence of buyers in the Real Estate sector is bound to plummet. This is one of the major reasons why few new buyers are coming into the market. The ones who are already in the market want this nightmare to end, and the ones who are on the sidelines are happy sitting out this nightmare.
If builders like Raheja Developers (whose CMD is Chairman of NAREDCO) are taking their buyers for a ride, what can one hope from the other builders. When all is said and done, we hope the other builders will realize the blot he is on the image of NAREDCO, and will remove Mr Navin Raheja from the Chairmanship.
It is time for the cleaning to begin. The builders who at the slightest pretext are calling for govt help to revive the real estate sector (that constitutes 7% of the GDP blah blah) should start by holding accountable rogues like Mr Navin Raheja. Mr Raheja should be made to resign from the Chairmanship of NAREDCO.
The shenanigans, crimes, and misdemeanors of BUILDERS LIKE RAHEJA DEVELOPERS HAVE created a trust deficit in the real estate market, and are directly responsible for the its consequent crash. Corporate Real Estate Consultants like Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), and the horde of property dealers have also been active participants in this great sham. The mass media which has misled many buyers by its omissions and commissions, has for its own short terms interests caused great long term losses, and continues to do so. That is why it is time to encourage alternate platforms to emerge.
There was a time when the go-to place was IndianRealEsateForum.com (IREF), but over time it has started compromising. Some of our articles were removed without explanation from IREF when the builders or their agents complained. And now, after its takeover in a Rs 8 crore deal by Housing.com, it seems to have lost its appetite to annoy the builder with anti-them comments. It was expected because Housing.com’s business plan is largely dependent for its future success on selling builder inventory via its online platform. Almost all major online initiatives like Housing, Proptiger, IndiaHomes, Magicbricks, 99acres, etc and Property Dealers are similarly compromised in favour of the builders. You will find none of them creating articles that expose the real workings of the real estate market, like we do.
QuBREX is unique among the Property Consultancy & Brokerage firms, and it strongly represents the interests of the buyers. Our work as had lasting impact via cases like the DLF-CCI and Rs 630 crore penalty, and many buyers have benefited directly from the information shared by us. But, we are ourselves dependent on a network of many people who contribute knowledge and support to us. As time goes by, the role of many will be disclosed, and we are truly fortunate to be a part of one of the most organized and systematic battles to rein in badmash builders.
The efforts against Navin Raheja & Raheja Developers is not about one builder, but about changing a way of doing business. The story “The Buyers New Home: How Builders Are The Modern Age Royal Tailors of the Emperor’s New Clothes” http://www.qubrex.com/raheja-ayana-how-navin-raheja-are-making-new-clothes-for-the-buyers-like-royal-tailors-for-the-emperor may be loosely based on Raheja Developers, but in fact is an expose on how almost every contemporary builder functions from the pre-launch to post-possession.
Our aim is to create an active Knowledge Centre & Network for real estate related issues, because the challenges for the buyers with all builders are similar. We have worked with buyers of many builders, but the most organized effort is that of the Raheja property buyers. They have joined hands amongst various projects of Raheja, and with the combined efforts are collecting information and advice systematically via RTI’s and experts. In fact, some of them have become experienced consultants themselves, and can help other buyer groups.
It is also important that the buyers of future Raheja projects like Revanta, Aranya, Oma, Trinity, Highway Arcade, Ayana, Vanya, etc organize themselves and proactively start monitoring the performance of Rahejas. A small fee of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,00,000 towards their Association will provide insurance for their property worth tens of lakhs or crores. They shouldn’t ignore things till it is time to harvest, only to find that the crop does not look like what was promised. There are already too many farmer suicides happening.
Similarly, if buyers in projects by other builders would like to organize, we would be happy to get them in touch with the key personnel in the Raheja buyers group.
There are problems across many builders. There are hundreds of protest videos by buyers on youtube. But, just a few minutes of shouting on camera is not going to solve anything. You need to be organized, and systematic; a lean and mean fighting machine.
The story of Raheja buyers is one that will bring success, and will have a great impact. We are fortunate to be associated with them. They needed a story teller to tell their side of the story, and that story teller happens to be us.
With warm regards,