‘The real estate bill is a good beginning for a great change’
The real estate regulatory bill, which the UPA-II government has touted as a significant reform measure is currently being examined by a Parliamentary standing committee. Even as that process is under way, Arun Kumar Mishra, secretary, ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation, in a conversation with Sandeep Singh is hopeful that the much awaited regulator for the real estate sector will be a reality sometime next year, and it would take a lot of effort on the part of state government to achieve the objectives envisaged in the legislation.
The real estate industry and more so the consumers are keenly awaiting the real estate regulator. The last that we heard was that it is being examined by a Parliamentary standing committee. What is the progress so far?
The matter was referred to the standing committee in the last session of Parliament , and the committee has already had several sittings . They have raised some clarifications to which we have responded. While they have not lost any time on that, the next date for hearing has been fixed as December 6, and looking at the way they have been on it, I don’t think that things will be delayed. Once we get the report of the committee, we will have to go back to the Cabinet for the required amendments or changes and after that we will take it to the Parliament.
So, do you think that it should be a reality sometime next year?
I am quite hopeful that it should happen in the next year.
Do you think it will be a major step forward in making the real estate sector better regulated and also for the common man?
We have received very positive comments on the bill. It will bring in lot of transparency and accountability to the sector. While consumers will benefit, in the long-run good developers will also benefit. We are already seeing the impact of that as several associations are voluntarily coming up with self disclosure norms, consumers have started demanding certain facilities as their rights. So even in the course of its preparation, the bill is already changing the system and there are states that have become very active and are coming up with more progressive legislations. I personally feel it is going to be a good beginning for a great change.
Has the bill got adequate teeth to safeguard the consumer, or you think it will evolve with time?
It is a very good starting point but it will be an evolving process. I think that if the states supplement the effort then it will be a tremendous thing. The bill also provides for promotional activity by the state government — for instance, simplification of procedures that precede the launch of the project but do impact the ultimate price. I think all these processes can be improved and so efforts taken by state governments will address most of the issues of the consumer. Also it provides the consumers with a forum where they can approach. I also feel that intermediary bodies such as development authorities, municipalities, certifying licensing bodies will also have to be brought into self-discipline. That is very important and I hope that it is something that the regulator will actively promote.
The Maharashtra chief minister has written to your ministry regarding the Maharashtra Housing Regulator Bill. What is the current status?
The normal practice is that we write to the home ministry for a Presidential assent. We have already given our comments on the bill to the home ministry and when I last spoke to the secretary of the Maharashtra government, he said that they have received the comments and that they are examining and will comment on it. There are some differences in what has been proposed in the bill and what we have proposed in our Real Estate Bill, so we have requested the state government to examine it in light of the new Central legislation which is being proposed. I hope that since they are already examining the bill, they should be able to reconcile the…