Centre's stand differs on Amrapali Group, Unitech

Mumbai: Amrapali Group and Unitech, both are mirror images of a housing mess, which has left close to 50,000 homebuyers in the lurch. The Centre is striving to devise a resolution, which it can consistently implement in sorting the mess in Delhi-NCR. Both real estate groups are under litigation in the Supreme Court.

In December 2019, for Amrapali Group, the Centre made an application having a five-point criterion for financing the selected stalled projects. But for Unitech, the Centre refused to infuse funds from the Rs 25,000 crore corpus created to salvage stalled residential projects.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal on Monday told the Supreme Court, during the hearing on Unitech, it cannot dig into the Rs 25,000-crore fund for homebuyers, as these funds are not meant for housing projects under litigation in the Supreme Court and the High Court.

Unitech is in the thick of financial mess as a consequence of siphoning of more than 50% of money deposited by individuals and financial institutions.

Advocate M.L. Lahoti, who represents thousands of homebuyers' in Amrapali and Unitech, said the Centre's stand on resolving the housing projects issue is not consistent.

In Amrapali Group, the top court directed SBICAP Ventures Ltd to decide on financing the uncompleted projects of the defunct Amrapali Group.

"The Centre had gone on record by placing the application of SBICAP Ventures Ltd. (in Amrapali matter) with respect to the process for selection of stalled projects for funding of SWAMIH Investment Fund-U and corresponding timeline. But, in Unitech, they have refused to infuse to complete the unfinished projects", said Lahoti.

The SBICAP is the fund manager of the government sponsored Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) fund. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had directed court receiver senior advocate R. Venkatramani, based on this application, to draw out a roadmap and make an application to SBICAP Ventures and submit the information in connection with the stalled projects.

The court had said, "We request the receiver to deliberate with the SBICAP Ventures Ltd and furnish the requisite information. On the requisite information being furnished, the SBICAP Ventures Ltd is to deal with the same within 10 days and to submit its proposal."

The Attorney General contended before the apex court that there are many stalled housing projects in the country, which are not under litigation, and the stress fund created by the Centre will essentially serve as a fuel for these projects.

Kumar Mihir, advocate representing many homebuyers, said: "The Centre's stress funds should be utilized in the interest of homebuyers who have invested their hard-earned money in these housing projects, and there should not be any discrimination for projects under litigation."

In Amrapali Group matter, the criteria for financing the stalled projects identifies at least 90 per cent of the available FSI/FAR being developed as affordable housing units or mid-income housing units and is networth positive -- value of sold receivables plus unsold inventory being greater than the cost of construction and to service the investment by the fund.

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