There is a zen like calm on his face each time I visit his office to have him respond to any contentious issue that’s making headlines in Noida’s property market. IAS Officer and Chairman, Rama Raman, at the helm Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway has survived through aggressive farmer protests, long drawn court battles and surprise regulatory bombshells in a politically charged state of Uttar Pradesh. And yet the ardent Yoga practitioner says no challenge can frazzle him. Fresh out of another victory with the closure of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary issue, he has a message for the naysayers – “Jitney bhi koshish karey, humari speed ko rokney kay liye, par humari speed kam honay wali nahi hai.”
Acknowleding the loss of faith from investors owing to the almost two year freeze on Noida’s property market over the Okhla Bird Sanctuary issue, Raman assures his team of officers are fast-tracking clearances to the ‘freed’ residential projects. The Chairman has about 40 applications on his desk that are seeking Completion Certificates for residential, institutional and commercial projects.
Rama Raman has set for himself and his band of officers a strict deadline of a week to ten days to issue all Completion Certificates. Authority Officers will conduct ground surveys of each project and check them for safety standards and occupation worthiness.
Majority of the residential projects that were denied Occupation Clearance following the National Green Tribunal’s directive in 2013 are on the Noida Expressway. Housing units in these projects were sold at low price points. And developers who were on track with their construction were certain about making their margins and therefore leveraged themselves elsewhere launching new projects.
However over the following 22 months, buyers fed up of waiting and paying rent with EMIs, discontinued their installments seeing no progress on ground. Developers however had to continue paying interest on their borrowings, squeezing their finances tight. This is where I get concerned. Have these developers ensured quality construction in their residential projects? Standing idle for two years, what about structural audits? Will the Authority just check for a Fire safety Certificate or will it ensure the builder has a robust fire-fighting mechanism in place? And will the Authority in its eagerness to dispose-off the pending applications, be alert enough to spot deviations in building plans?
These issues will come back to bite once people start moving into their homes only to discover their dream home looks different in reality. Developers and the NOIDA Authority must remember, today’s home-buyers are an empowered lot. They may not have an official redressal agency. But Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp has given them enough ammunition to name and shame.
Vasudha Sharma, Anchor & Correspondent- The Property Show