Kolkata: In a curious turn of events, two ministries of the Mamata Banerjee government seem to have locked horns over a policy related issue pertaining to the real estate sector. While one department prefers taking the sides of the consumers, that is home or property buyers, the other seems more concerned about expanding the state’s coffers.
Quite significantly, the issue also leads to a much bigger question of whether two separate Acts on the subject of regulation of the real estate sector — one enacted by the Centre (RERA) and the other by a particular state (HIRA) — can coexist. The matter relates to the existence of Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016 (RERA), which is a central government legislation, and the Housing & Industrial Regulation Act, 2017 (HIRA), which was enacted by the West Bengal government. RERA had been fully notified in 2017 and states were given powers to notify their respective rules and appoint regulatory authorities. While this is applicable across the country, except in J&K, the West Bengal government is the only one that has come out with its separate legislation, HIRA.
Interestingly now, one of the departments of Bengal government is neither following RERA. Nor is it complying with the provisions of WBHIRA.
West Bengal consumer affairs minister, Sadhan Pande, in a letter (MIC/432/2019), dated August 21, addressed to Onkar Singh Meena, secretary, housing department and designated authority, WBHIRA, unequivocally said, “WBHIRA came into force in the year 2017 and according to the Act of HIRA it was decided that a customer will only pay for the carpet area of the apartment or property, which he/she is buying. This has enabled to develop more transparency between the builder and the customer. But to my surprise, we came to know that still the directorate of registration and stamp revenue is conducting the registration process in super built-up area, thus forcing a customer to pay much more stamp duty and registration cost than he/she should have actually paid if the registration had been conducted on the carpet area of the property.”
“As a consumer protection minister, I have received several complaints from the consumers regarding this contradiction in the rules of WBHIRA and directorate of registration and stamp revenue. So please rectify this problem as soon as possible and charge the stamp duty and registration cost on the basis of carpet area as per the rules of WBHIRA,” the letter from the minister added.
The letter from the consumer affairs and protection minister, however, is yet to elicit any response from the other department, that is housing.