With no house in sight and hefty bank loans in their names, the customers of the Aliens space station 1 project in Hyderabad are fast losing hope. Nearly a decade has passed since the project was launched in a glitzy, high-profile launch and for the 400-odd customers who have invested in the project – each passing day has been a nightmare.
Project delays leave Aliens Group customers homeless
Launched in 2005 by the Aliens Group – Aliens Space Station 1 promised high-quality construction, 700 quality checks and 28 different floor plans to choose from. Add to this a heady mix of glossy advertisements and a slick marketing campaign and it is easy to see why many homebuyers including NRIs rushed to invest in the project, paying up almost 50% of the project cost upfront. They were promised possession of their homes by 11/11/2011, but as things stand, only about 10% of the project seems to have been completed. And naturally, these investors are angry and bitter.
“The total number of flats in the project is 2,182 and total cost of the project is Rs 1,000 Crores. The developer has collected nearly Rs 650 Crores so far, but they have built only about 10% of the project. There is definitely some fund divergence going on.” claims Alok Shukla, a homebuyer in the Aliens Space Station 1 project.
Around 400 homebuyers are now up in arms against the developer and have drawn up a list of complaints.
This includes claims that:
· The developer is asking homebuyers to pay from 80% to 100% on top of the total invested amount by promising extra facilities like bigger doors and a private corridor with designer gates.
· In case a customer refuses to pay this extra amount, the company has threatened to cancel their booking for the flat.
· Out of the 13 stations planned, only 1 has been structurally completed up to the 30th floor. Around 20 to 30 flats have been handed over, but only to those who are willing to pay extra.
· Nearly 500 customers have cancelled their bookings but still haven’t received any refund. On the few occasions that the builder has issued cheques to customers, the cheques bounced.
“Considering the quality of construction which aliens is delivering and incremental in construction cost, we request you to share some cost burden for the better growth and quality of project.” – Part of the email sent by Aliens Group to its customers, asking them to pay extra for their purchased flats. Copies of the emails are with NDTV.
Homebuyers seek government intervention
NDTV arranged for a meeting between the management of the Aliens Group and the buyers and the Managing Director Venkat Challa stated that the company was working on raising more funds to resume work and deliver the homes. They also promised to hold regular town halls to give updates on the status of the project within a couple of months. However, these promises seem to have had no impact on the homebuyers, many of whom have now taken to the streets in protest.
“We have been paying EMI since 2009 when we first bought into the project. But today we are not in a position to pay that. The banks are threatening to file legal cases against us. They are telling us that we have to pay EMIs. Where should we go? Whom do we talk to?” cried Sneha, a visibly distressed homebuyer, during one of the protests.
So far, nearly 49 cases have been filed against the Aliens Group before the national commission, 312 cases before the state commission and around 300 FIRs have been filed against the company’s Managing Directors Hari Challa and Venkat Challa. One of the company’s directors was even arrested on charges of fraud, only to be let out on bail 2 months later. Appeals have also been made to the Telangana Chief Minister and Home Minister. Now, many of these homebuyers are waiting in the hope that the recently passes Real Estate Regulatory Act (RERA) will finally offer them some closure on this issue.
Reporter- Smitha TK
Edited by- Nikhil Narayan Sivadas