Even as apartment complexes are coming up at every nook and corner of Kochi, the number of complaints against apartment builders are rising at an alarming rate.
Cases are piling up before various courts. Civil cases have been filed against the majority of big builders at the Consumer Court in Kochi. As per the data from Ernakulam District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, 73 cases have been registered against different builders in the city from January 2013 to February 2014. Twenty-five complaints have been registered at Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum during the same period. The Apple-A-Day scam which came to light first was followed by many more, including the Panjos building scam.
Last year, the police arrested the managing directors of Parthasarathy Properties Pvt Ltd. The duo conducted property shows in West Asia and collected more than `24 crore by selling apartments and villas in Ernakulam and Thekkady. However, they could complete only one among the six proposed projects. They also tried to sell the same apartment to several persons after completing the project.
Officials at the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum said that the majority of complaints pertain to the delay in completing the work or for failing to provide the promised amenities and facilities. “Almost every week people lodge complaints against apartment builders. Most of them demand compensation for the delay or for not providing the promised facilities. On some occasions, the settlements are done off the court and complaints, withdrawn. On most occasions, the court protects the rights of the consumer and orders for apt compensation,” an official with District Consumer Disputes Redressel Forum said.
The police officers who were part of the investigation in Apple-A-Day apartment scam was of the opinion that if the complaints recorded against apartment builders at Magistrate Courts and Sessions Court are taken into account, it would be double the number of cases recorded at consumer courts.
“Since Kerala State Legal Service Authority has taken over the Apple-A-Day Apartment scam issues, some of the complaints have been withdrawn. Still, some cases related to Apple-A-Day scam are pending before courts. Since a high number of NRIs invest on real estate and apartment business, the majority of the victims are NRIs,” a police official said.