Real Estate Bill: panel backs Govt on locking up only 50% of buyer funds
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August 2013, and was referred to the parliamentary standing committee on urban development, which gave its recommendations.
In April 2015, the government had cleared amendments to the real estate Bill, paving the way for the much-awaited regulator in the ‘residential’ real estate industry. Commercial real estatesector was also brought under the ambit of the Bill.
The real estate sector had been devoid of any kind of regulation until now. The Bill assumes importance in the wake of rising consumer complaints against developers for delaying projects by over 4-5 years.
The Bill aims to establish the Real estate regulatory authority (RERA) for regulation and promotion of the real estate sector, and to set up an adjudicating mechanism for speedy redressal of disputes. It also aims to establish the appellate tribunal to hear appeals against the decisions of the RERA.
After the revised Bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha in May, 2015 it was referred to a select committee. The Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha has accepted almost all amendments made by the Narendra Modi Cabinet to the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, which was originally drafted by the UPA government.
The amendments are largely the industry’s demands and pro-buyer measures. They will also help the government realise its vision of ‘Housing for all by 2022.’
Following are the recommendations of the Select Committee:
The select committee has suggested that all real estate projects over 500 sq. m or 8 flats be brought under the purview of the Bill. Currently, the Bill has proposed projects covering 1,000 sq. m or more than 12 flats be registered with the regulatory authority.
The Bill, drafted by the UPA, had mandated that 70% of the amount collected from buyers needed to be kept in a separate account, and to be used only for construction of a particular project, while the rest can be spent on other projects. The panel, however, has stuck to the NDA government’s draft Bill, which has brought this down to 50%.
Reason- in some cases the land accounts for nearly 80 % of the cost of the project, so keeping 50% or more in a separate account will unnecessarily block funds. Also, there is a vast difference in the per square metre selling cost and construction cost of projects in some areas.
There is a suggestion for further flexibility in the clause by allowing the promoter to withdraw funds from the separate account to cover the cost of construction in proportion to the percentage of completion of the project.
It also suggested that the amounts from the separate account shall only be withdrawn by the promoter after it is certified by an engineer, an architect and a chartered accountant that the withdrawal is in proportion to the percentage of completion.
It has retained all the penal provisions for defaulters in the Bill, including fine for the first offence and three-year imprisonment for subsequent violations.
Promoter should bear all the liabilities till the flat is transferred to the allottee’s name.
Promoters should get their accounts audited within 6 months after the close of every financial year by a practicing chartered accountant.
Developers, both in residential and commercial sectors, will be required to register their projects with the regulatory authorities to be set up, and they will have to mandatorily disclose all information regarding the promoters, project, layout plan, schedule of development works, land status, status of statutory approvals, amongst others.
Redefinition of the Carpet Area:
It has also redefined carpet area – ‘the net usable floor area of an apartment, excluding the area covered by the external walls and that under-service shafts, exclusive balcony or verandah and open terrace areas, although it would include the area covered by the internal partition walls of the apartment.’ Recommendations from the Opposition parties in the Parliament:
The Opposition has argued that the clause that the Bill is applicable to projects on a minimum of 1,000 sq m of land will help large developers.
It wanted constructions in smaller areas brought under the ambit of the Bill as well.
It also demanded addition of an anti-discrimination clause in the Bill to ensure buyers are treated equally and not kept from purchasing property on the basis of religion, caste, gender or eating habits.
Key Issues and Analysis:
Parliament’s jurisdiction to make laws related to real estate as “land” is in the State List of the Constitution can be debatable. However, it may be argued that the primary aim of this Bill is to regulate contracts and transfer of property, both of which are in the Concurrent List.
Some states have enacted laws to regulate real estate projects. The Bill differs from these state laws on several grounds. It will override the provisions of these state laws in case of any inconsistencies.
The Bill mandates that 70% of the amount collected from buyers of a project be used only for construction of that project. In certain cases, the cost of construction could be less than 70% and the cost of land more than 30% of the total amount collected. This implies that part of the funds collected could remain unutilized, necessitating some financing from other sources. This could raise the project cost.
The Standing Committee examining the Bill has made several recommendations. These include: (a) the Bill should also regulate commercial real estate, (b) smaller projects should also be covered, and (c) all real estate agents must be required to register.
The real estate sector has some other issues such as a lengthy process for project approvals, lack of clear land titles, and prevalence of black money. Some of these fall under the State List.
Since coal is here to stay for a while, the ultra-super critical technology will help green the process while making it more efficient.
It noted that the average fuel conversion efficiency of Indian power plants is just about 30.5 per cent, though the new 500 MW plants have efficiency of 36 per cent.
State-of-the-art supercritical boilers can reach an efficiency level of 46 per cent depending on plant location.
Under Indian conditions an efficiency level of 38-40 per cent should be attainable. This alone can reduce coal requirement by 111 million tonnes.
How is Super Critical Technology Eco Friendly?
Ultra-supercritical technology uses steam with very high temperatures, up to 620°C, and pressure, up to 300 bar, resulting in a much higher efficiency than conventional coal fired plants. A unit burns much less coal, thereby generating less emission per megawatt of power output.
Power generation companies are likely to make this technological switch to drive up output and plant load factor, curb variable costs and cut down discharge of pollutants in the atmosphere.
Efficiency savings will not only reduce operating costs and make better use of fossil fuels; they will reduce the overall liability for emissions.
Will this provide a needed service to India?
This will provide a much-needed service to India, especially for farms and businesses.
Due to an energy deficit of nearly 160 gigawatts, 400 million Indians do not have regular access to electricity.
To India’s economic planners, thermal power is the only viable option to fulfill India’s energy demand.
What is within our capability is to minimize the carbon footprint of coal-fired plants. This is wherethe more fuel-efficient ultra-supercritical technology can contribute.
IAS BABA’s View
The union government had been taking a number of initiatives to promote the use of super critical technology.
The government had taken initiative to make easy the manufacturing of component used in the super critical units.
It is said that in the 13th five-year-plan, only super critical technology-based power plants would be set up in India.
Connecting the Dots:
What is the status of Ultra super critical coal fired power plant technology in the 12th FYP?
Is thermal power is the only viable option to India’s economic planners to fulfill India’s energy demand?
How will it contribute in Mitigating Climate Change?
Green power : Renewable Energy
Despite the vague promises and platitudinous statements of intent that it contains, the proposed National Renewable Energy Act(RE Act), in the form that has been put up for public comments, should come as a measure of relief to the renewable energy industry inasmuch as it also yields to several of the industry’s longstanding demands.
The draft Renewable Energy Bill lays the grounds for making renewable energy mainstream option.
The Electricity Act (Amendment) Bill 2015 (proposed) provides many key provisions for the promotion of renewable energy resources including off-grid / decentralized mode of renewable energy production.
However, from the perspective of future energy resource planning, there is a need to create a holistic framework to promote the use of renewable energy and its applications not only in electricity (covered under the E-Act) but also in heat and transport segments.
There is also a need for an integrated energy resource mapping and planning with right set of institutional and structural support mechanisms for which the RE Law can be a pivotal legislation.
What is the aim of proposed National Renewable Energy Act (RE Act)?
The RE Law also aims to have strong linkages with various other national objectives like:
National Action plan for Climate Change (NAPCC)
National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE)
National Electric Mobility Mission (NEMM)
National Wind & Waste Energy Mission
National Manufacturing Policy
National Skill Development Program
Hence, the RE Law would bring a macroscopic synergies across various national objectives and hence a much coordinated and robust RE development model.
Is India trying for level playing field for renewables with RE Act?
Renewable energy offers opportunity to contribute to social and economic development, energy access, secure energy supply, climate change mitigation, and the reduction of negative environmental and health impacts.
State governments will also formulate renewable energy policy and plans at state level.
They may also establish a state ‘green fund’ for the promotion of renewables.
Other recommendations include setting up renewable energy parks and setting renewable energy targets.
IAS BABA’S View
The RE Act does a lot of mine-clearing of the path towards the goal of generating 175,000 MW of power from renewable resources by 2022. However, the government has more work to do.
The industry has often cited two major stumbling blocks transmission infrastructure and the “off-taker” risk, or the perception of the ability of the buyer of green power to pay for it.
The “transmission infrastructure” issue is thus being addressed, though it is doubtful if the infrastructure will be in place by 2022.
The other issue, “off-taker risk”, which is based on the poor health of State-owned power distribution companies, is more vexing.
The answer to that probably lies in the new Electricity Act, which seeks to engender a crop of private “supply companies”, to which a renewable energy generator could sell his power.
Connecting the Dots:
What are the Shortcomings of the Renewable Energy Act? Pros & Cons of Renewable energy.
Is India working on a comprehensive “Renewable Energy Act 2015??
What is the contribution of renewable energy in the total energy generated in India? How can the current status be improved?