Mumbai, 24 October, 2016: Ekta Group of builders cheats and bullies its customers – no two ways about it. Don't be fooled by clever PR campaigns, paid media, beautiful website, and estate agents. Don't get taken in by endorsements of reputed corporate like HDFC Realty, HDFC Red, or mentions in Magic Bricks Now. Don't get fooled by Anil Kapoor's endorsement and MCHI-Credai Awards for Customer Responsiveness. That's all smokescreen. The ground-reality is that Ekta Group, also known as Ekta World, is shamelessly unreliable. Booking a flat in an Ekta project means giving lakhs of rupees with no safeguards and no legal entitlements. Even when the flat-agreement is registered, it is an unfair, one-sided agreement that make you lose all your rights as a flat purchaser. Ekta builder's overall strategy is to make the buyer helpless. As they say in market language,"Builder ko haath kaatke de dene jaisa hai" -- like cutting off your hands and giving them to the builder!
Why are we making such harsh statements against a reputed builder? If you don't like long explanations, just read (1)brochure of Ekta Parksville and (2) flat-purchase agreement for Ekta Parksville. The brochure is full of rosy promises, whereas the sale agreement tells you that you have no rights and no legal entitlements at all. Builderka sab kuch, buyer ka kuch nahin!The agreement is nothing but bhai-giri made out in legal language. Investors who have got the point can stop reading and go look for other places to put their hard earned money. Others, who want explanations, can continue reading about the actual experience of a customer.
Five years ago, Vineet Malik of Gurgaon applied for a flat in Ekta Parksville project in Virar, at a price of Rs 26 lakhs. The first demand for payment by Ekta Parksville Homes Pvt. Ltd. came in November 2011. This amount was promptly paid. The verbal commitment given to him was that the flat would be delivered by December 2013 i.e. two years later.
Four years later, in November 2015, the last demand note was sent by Ekta Parksville Homes Pvt. Ltd. Although 95% of the total consideration had already been paid, the flat-purchase agreement was not yet signed. The buyer was at the builder's mercy; the builder could break the deal even now.
In March 2016, although the buyer had paid 97% of the total consideration, Ekta continued to refer to the deal as "provisional booking". See this indemnity bond given by the buyer.
In May 2016, finally, the Flat Purchase Agreement was registered. (MOFA requires registered agreement at the time of receiving 20% of the total consideration, but these builders are laws unto themselves!) The agreement was full of discriminatory clauses making the buyer renounce all his legal rights. In a nutshell, the agreement says that flat-owner is only the owner of the four walls of his house, and he has no say in the common amenities promised in the lavish brochure. (Even if the builder reduces any or all of the amenities, and exploits the FSI of the land and/or any common area of the building, the flat-owner must keep quiet! Is this the kind of agreement one expects from a reputed builder?)
According to the recently signed agreement, the promised date for giving possession is December 2016. But, judging from the current construction status, this promise will be broken. The entire site is under-construction; there is no way it can be completed for giving possession within two months. Buyers will be lucky to get possession even on December 2017!
These two pictures sum up the situation:
Ekta Parksville – What was promised
Ekta Parksville – What will be delivered in December 2016
In our next article, we will look at the discriminatory clauses in the flat-purchase Agreement which negate the lawful entitlements of the flat-purchaser.
Meanwhile, call us and share your own experiences regarding Ekta's projects.
[Acknowledgment: Thank you activist Sulaiman Bhimani for research and groundwork.]
Media Release: RNA Corp teaches ExoticArithmetic to Axis Bank!"One-two-ka-four, four-two-ka-one, my name is Lakhan"
22nd June, 2016: When builder Anil Aggarwal's Skyline Construction Co approached Axis Bank for a project loan for RNA Exotica in 2011, the bankers forgot simple arithmetic. On two separate instances -- in 2011 and in 2013 -- Axis Bank's SME loans division gave loans of Rs 75 crore and Rs 100 crore against hugely inflated mortgages of floor space in RNA Exotica. The flat size was inflated by 500 to 700 square feet per flat, and the number of unsold flats mortgaged was inflated by a couple of hundred flats in 2013. Anil Aggarwal, like Anil Kapoor (you know, the chap who sang, "One-two-ka-four, four-two-ka-one, my name is Lakhan") sang a seductive song to Axis Bank executives, who were more than willing to be seduced.
The late Anil Aggarwal's version of one-two-ka-four sounds like this: "770 square feet flat ka 1299 and 979 sq. ft. ka 1650... My name is RNA Corp! Jadoogar Anil Agarwal said 168 sold flats in 2011, but 66 sold flats in 2013. Numbers mein kya rakha hai? Now gimme your money, sweetheart." The sweethearts at Axis Bank gave the builder a Rs 75 cr line of credit in March 2011, and beefed it up to Rs 100 crore in March 2013, even as the value of the collateral fell sharply!
RNA Exotica's Flat Sizes are on Steroids:
Skyline Construction Co's registered mortgage deeds in 2011 (and 2013) based on inflated and unverifiable figures, viz. 1299, 1650 and 1699 sq. ft. The correct sizes i.e. carpet areas, viz 770 and 979 sq. ft. are readily available through the flats' sale agreements.
The sale deed of flat no. D-1903 booked by actor Arif Zakaria shows 979 sq. ft. whereas the mortgage deed shows 1650 sq. ft. So, RNA Corp has represented to Axis Bank that this flat is 671 sq. ft. larger than its actual carpet area! And Axis Bank has unquestioningly accepted this figure as a basis for its mortgage!
This raises the question whether Axis Bank has double-standards – one for people like you and me, and another for people like Anil Aggarwal. Would Axis Bank have sanctioned a loan against our flats if you and I cited Super Built Up area instead of the carpet area?
Axis Bank loan was Supersized while RNA Exotica was Downsized:
RNA's Skyline Construction Co.'s March 2011 loan was of Rs 75 crore. In March 2013, Skyline prepaid the RNA Exotica project loan and got the mortgage released, and immediately took a fresh loan of Rs 100 crore. Unsold flats of RNA Exotica were mortgaged to Axis Bank. The 2011 mortgage deed shows the number of sold flats as 168 (2,41,350 sq. ft.), with a table of flat-buyers' names and flat numbers. The 2013 mortgage deed claims that the number of sold flats supposedly dropped down to 66 (i.e. 94,951 sq. ft.). How? Did Skyline sales staff spend two years buying back over 100 flats from investors, instead of selling additional flats? There is no table of sold and unsold flats in the March 2013 mortgage deed.
Why this reduction in the number of sold flats? Because RNA Corp, which had gone to town in 2010 claiming that RNA Exotica would be a 48-storey tower, (i.e. 10 floors podium parking, one floor E-deck, plus 37 upper floors) was not getting MMRDA's permission for building that many floors.
The March 2011 mortgage deed is based on calcuations of 30 upper floors (i.e. 459 flats, 16 flats per floor). In March 2013, there is reduction of 35 flats. That means roughly two floors less, bringing the total to about 28 upper floors. But is that final? NO!
According to a source at MMRDA, RNA Corp in June 2016 has permission to build only 21 upper floors. Frantic efforts are being made by the builder to get this raised to 25 upper floors. Even if such efforts succeed, further reduction of 48 flats will happen – i.e. a total reduction of about 80 flats. The top floor will be 36th floor (i.e. 10+1+25).
The falling expectations show in the sale agreements. Whereas Kushan Pritish Nandy's sale agreement registered in October 2014 said 30 upper floors, Arif Zakaria's sale agreement in August 2015 mentioned 25 upper floors!
Why Financial Jugglery was done:
In 2013, Anil Aggarwal's big problem was: How to get a higher loan amount sanctioned from Axis Bank against a much smaller mortgage? The solution was: by reducing the number of sold flats, the "stock" of mortgagable unsold flats would appear higher. (So, what is the real number of sold flats? My guesstimate is: if 168 flats were already sold in March 2011, then 100 more flats in the next 24 months @ four flats per month. So, 268 sold flats were falsely declared as 66 flats. If each flat is valued at Rs 1.5 cr on average, the property mortgaged to Axis Bank was worth Rs 300 cr less than claimed!)
All this financial jugglery for downplaying the risk of RNA Exotica becoming a Stressed Asset! RNA Corp has defaulted on smaller loans from Bank of India and State Bank of India. This auction notice says that RNA Corporate Park defaulted on SBI for Rs 61.50 crore, for which mortgaged land parcels in Palghar district will be auctioned. And this letter from Bank Of India to the secretary of RNA Royal Park, Kandivali, tells a similar story of default and bank recovery proceedings.
SBI is struggling to recover an amount of Rs 61.5 cr by auctioning land plots that turned out to be under CRZ, and therefore valued at a fraction of the original projected values. Will the one-two-ka-four loan transaction of RNA Exotica and Axis Bank have a similar ending? Wait and watch.
This story is based on inputs from RTI activist Sulaiman Bhimani
Among the various objections raised to the AIB Roast that has got into trouble over profanity and hurting sentiments and such was the issue of people being offended by being joked about. Normally you'd tell such people to suck it up, but when combined with humor that is already targeted for being offensive, it becomes a sort of sentimental cocktail like Farida Jalal being embarrassed at the idea of a joke about someone jerking off to her or Anil Kapoor angry over his accent being ridiculed.
I do think All India Bakchod should have taken the consent of those they ridiculed beyond the scope of those present on the stage, at the same time, I imagine it is not so easy to know who would be offended and who would not.
As an endorsement of free speech, as well as a subtle reminder to comedians by merely existing, I'm proposing that people who are staunch supporters of free speech (or merely good sports) declare openly that they would not react adversely to being ridiculed or otherwise targeted in a manner that is not intended to cause them harm or threat.
I hereby state that I am never going to file a police complaint over being joked about. Even if I don't like the joke and rip you to shreds on Twitter. I am not famous outside Twitter, so it isn't particularly useful in terms of a personality you can joke about, but who knows when a ridiculable blogger comes in handy in these touchy times?
Please note that this consent does not extend to family members or anyone other than me - whom you still ought to ask independently (if I ever get that famous :p).
Also, I hope that more interesting people to ridicule get the hint and state their open consent to free speech - including offensive speech.
I would suggest that you add your name in the comments, if you're fine being ridiculed and will not seek legal recourse if it happens. If you aren't famous, describe yourself a bit 😀 If you are famous, that is really superb. Such people are in short supply, it seems.
If you write or post elsewhere, feel free to leave a link in the comments, with your name.
If lots of people are interested in stating such consent in the interest of upholding Free Speech in a country where it is already shaky (and such consent will go a long way in taking the "offensive" out of the crappy laws)... we could perhaps have a directory of sorts, where people ridiculing anyone could simply check if their targets are listed.
That said, this is more a "speaking up" move than procedure. People can and should still be able to ridicule anyone regardless of consent, but I imagine having consenting people for the worse jokes can take some of the post publishng worry out of the planning.
Normally this shouldn't be a worry, but India's laws are sort of fucked up and it is easy for pissed people to screw your happiness.
There are too many people speaking up because they are offended, and not enough people explicitly leading the right to ridicule from the other end of the stick. Maybe this will give more people an idea.
Can you take a joke? Can you take a terrible joke? Can you take an offensive joke? Can you respond to a joke you simply cannot take without resorting to silencing others - even about you?
This is the most difficult post I have written in ages, but I think it is wrong to compensate farmer suicides and I am speaking up. I know that will make me look evil - refusing money to the desperately poor, but this blog was never a popularity contest.
A soldier who goes on a suicide mission does it for a greater cause. Death is a price he pays so that others may gain. Others he cares about.
Seen an old Anil Kapoor film Saheb? When he is impotent to provide for his family, he sacrifices his kidney to raise money.
When a poor person is at the end of his rope, and sees no end in sight, and knows that his death will bring his family money.... do the math.
The other problem is that offering payments for farmer suicides as a rule is in essence saying that there is not going to be any change in conditions, and a norm needs to be created rather than dealing with each case individually. In other words, it is a standard created for responding to deaths that we are responsible for. You don't create a norm for something you intend to stop. You stop it. You prosecute violators, not reward victims.
If each farmer can die individually, each case should be compensated individually - if that takes too much time, think of what that inconvenient number means in terms of the cost of policies. Work to prevent suicides, not prevent them attention. What does it say of us as humans, that there is a "category of people" we refuse to pay special attention to even in death?
By taking up each case individually, the family's suffering gets acknowledged, their compensations suit their needs, and there is no "standard price" put on life to encourage suicides among desperate farmers.
Like how things are, suicide has joined the ranks of "source of money"!!!! From the state!!! Am I the only one to find this macabre?
Money for a life lost because there was no hope of getting money, and yet if the farmer had lived, they wouldn't get it.
An ugly taunt.
If these sops must be given, pay people to live, not die! But that would be too expensive. More people alive than dead, no? Better save money and pick the smaller sample that has "truly suffered". Never mind that they suffered life, not death.
Instead, the appropriate response to these deaths would be abject apology for failing them, and immediate setting aside of all egos and desired images to maintain and humbly trying out suggestions made by people who have put in considerable thought on the matter.
In fact, I would go ahead and say to create a panel to recommend changes in policy, laws, infrastructure and so on, that is composed almost entirely of agriculture related activists and pro-farmer journalists like P. Sainath - and execute their suggestions - at least the top three crucial ones, at least more than half of them without question. Notice I say execute, not consider. That is humility. It is arrogance to debate stuff we have no real concept of, and exert discretion to accept or reject suggestions of experienced people on matters we don't understand at ground level. Matters with life and death on stake.
Politicians don't understand the ground realities enough to make informed decisions. They should appoint people of trust and then trust them.
At the moment, commissions and panels talk a lot, write a lot. End result is suicides continue. That is not working. Why are their suggestions not taken? Why is it that a farmer works hard all his life and still cannot maintain basic survival needs? Why is no action taken against those who should be taking care of this, but have consistently failed even basic stuff? Restore govt spending on these areas to pre-greedism levels - why is this rocket science? Why is it that Kingfisher can consider bailout from the government as can other industries - even banks, but not farmers? Is food not necessary for our country?
The government should stop applying their ideas on this and stubbornly sticking to their paralysis and recognize that those ideas are failing for a long time and lives are being lost. This is not a no-stakes trial to go on for so long without showing results. It is time to try out new ideas with humility and continue or discontinue them based on results.