Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How Builder's Cronies Digress a Housing Project Completion

It’s been nearly 10 months that the Confident Group washed their hands off their incomplete project, Antlia 1. This project was supposed to be completed (including all the 60 amenities, by 2010.

They first threatened to withdraw maintenance of this complex in October last year and convinced some owner’s representatives to take financial handover.  (Financial handover, according to them was, the owners manage the complex on their own, and the Confident Group acts as a prop.) These owners’s representatives came back convinced and called for a meeting to brain-wash other owners to concede and increase the maintenance charges.

 Few owners intervened and wrote to Dr. Roy CJ, the CMD of the Confident Group stressing the unprofessionalism and unethical withdrawal of The Confident Group from Antlia 1 without completing the project and or giving the due documents, including the occupancy certificate to all the owners. The CMD invited all the owners to meet and discuss the issues.  A meeting was organized on a weekday and out of 80 owners only 8 turned up for the meeting.

We thought, since this CMD had an education (which includes a doctorate) he would be a reasonable person unlike his MD. He turned out to be as eccentric as an eccentric could be. Being smart at maneuvering people, he skillfully tried diluting the agenda of the meeting resorting to excess emotionality and stubbornness.

The Confident Group’s USP was the 60 amenities, that among other things include fish pond with angling, telescope nest, mini super market, and 57 more amenities. In that meeting in December last, he gave us an assurance that Most of these regular anomalies pertaining to Antlia 1 in particular would be completed and rectified by March 2013 and the other amenities that would be housed in the club house and the commercial would be completed by 2013 December. This he and all the attendees signed and he went a bit overboard and handed this promise sheet in his chapel that is set up in a corner in his office.

Why I am writing this piece today is, primarily to draw your attention and urge you to be cautious about builders and their antics through their cronies. Most builders give little extras to few owners and buy their conscience. This could be in the form of a good discount at their next property or a car or investing in their venture. This comes handy when they digress from what was advertised to garner sale and that delivered.

We had an election. This election was to choose representatives who would continue to negotiate with the Confident Group and monitor the progress of the rectification and completion of the project without getting sidelined. A group of 10 owners started getting nasty virtually that compelled the proactive few owners who were instrumental in organizing the meeting with the CMD of the Confident Group and getting a written assurance from him and his team,and monitoring every step to completion, to withdraw their nomination.

If you are reading this article, then do remember that this is one of the various antics employed by this builder to digress from their responsibility.

These elected representatives of the adhoc committee of owner’s association took financial handover from the builder without intimating other owners. This was completely unethical and having spoken to many legal experts is illegal too.

The very purpose of having this election was to ensure that the association gets registered under KAOA so that we continue to get the builder to deliver.

Today, it’s been 8 months and these cronies of the confident group had set up an account in the corporation bank in the name of an unregistered association and compelled, to the extent of going overtly nasty, the owners to pay a maintenance that is way too expensive for a regular apartment sans amenities.

Today, amenities still remains a far off dream that once lured people like me to buy a home here. Not one shovel of dust have come up for the commercial construction, the fire safety remains a concern and the lifts are without ARD.

And like in most housing complexes and elsewhere, people keep mute to escape harassment.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Being Single is NOT Lonely

My last post, Emotional Violence against Women at Public Offices was picked up by a city evening paper, City Today.

The slug given in this paper said, Lonely & exploited. The reporter who interviewed me clarified that a desk stringer gave this slug without her knowledge.

How easily others assume that singles are lonely and that all singles are exploited!

This is so very stereotypical attitude of most.

How easily people blur the lines between lonely and being alone.

Loneliness is a state of mind. It is a feeling of disconnectedness from community or society. Being alone or single is a choice and has nothing to do with feeling lonely.

I have never allowed myself to be exploited either emotionally or physically. We all have a choice - irrespective of our marital status - whether we would like people to exploit us or we have the courage to say No.

Exploitation takes varied hue. It could be a direct uncivil behavior by another person or could be an indirect uncivil behavior directed at others.

Singles, preferring ones own company, or introverts are not lonely. Remember loneliness is a state of mind. People in relationships could also be lonely.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Emotional Violence against Women at Public Offices

I went to the Passport Seva Kendra at Outer Ring Road to submit the application for the reissue of my minor daughter’s passport on tatkal.  The lady at the front desk, Gayathri ( name not changed) told me, “ A Single parent cannot apply for the reissue of her daughter’s passport on tatkal.”  I was asked to get my daughter’s father and the reason for the separation, all this in full public view. 
Being informed, I told her candidly that was not a reason for rejecting my daughter’s application for reissue of her passport on tatkal, and that she was not eligible to ask personal questions that violates decency in civil society.
It was most humiliating! This behavior from the front desk executive was a deliberate harassment. This sort of harassment is a form of violence against women. What is sad is, it was perpetrated by a woman.
I could see people standing in other queues getting interested in our discussion and my patience was fast depleting.  What I have learnt from my interaction with such people who try to act ‘holy’ is to go nasty the full way. This, from my experience always  worked and fuses such unrestrained curiosities about other people’s life.  And I did just that. I gave her a biology lesson that left her scarlet and mute.
It is a good practice to always do your homework to understand the process and procedure before going to any offices. Before visiting the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK), I scanned to get the details. I called up the customer care many times to validate the list of documents required. I then called up Mr Suresh Rana, APO,CPV Division, Ministry of External Affairs to validate. I also wrote to the RPO but never received a response.
I was told, since this is a reissue, I need not submit all the documents that I had to attach when I applied for her passport for the first time. Her details are in their database. So, I was asked to submit Annexure H, a copy of my passport and my daughter’s passport, and our new address proof along with the application.
( Note: Annexure H is just a declaration, yet I went ahead and got it attested by a notary.)
I thought I was pretty thorough when I went to the PSK. ( My daughter had to miss her school that day.) The humiliation was unexpected and left me fuming.
A single parent faces innumerable challenges to get work done and more so if she happens to have a very distinct sense of what is right and what is wrong.
Not having a partner is not a crime. Raising a child single-handedly is not a sacrifice but a choice and I do not think any self-respecting single parent needs the snide or the sympathy.  
But, disrespecting, humiliating, and abusing emotionally an individual just because her marital status is not what your ideal society wants, is a gross violation of human rights and is condemnable.
I could get my work done on that very day because I was informed and insisted that I meet the APO. They allowed me to when I spoke to Mr. Suresh Rana. But, not all can create this sort of stir. So, does that mean such violence, that doesn’t leave visible physical scars but completely stresses out the person involved. would continue in offices? I doubt whether anybody would raise the flag for fear of their paper work getting delayed or rejected.

Oashe ( my daughter) learnt a valuable lesson that day. On our way back home after the intense drama, she told me that she is determined to remain steadfast on her beliefs, will not accept any sort of injustice meted out to her or her friends, and will protest in accordance with the laws.
What is required is sensitizing and sanitizing the mindset of the customer facing executives. This lady at the front desk, Gayathri is a TCS employee. She is young, still in her twenties and yet she has unhealthy thoughts. Asking for a total revolution of the mind set is a tall order, but such mindset from Gen Y is not expected. We need to think where we have gone wrong and if we have a young force with stagnated thoughts, it is an indication of  a society that have grossly misinterpreted the basic human values that transcends marital status, borders, and color.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Garrulous Farts

I am concerned and remain perplexed.

Not because of the daily street terrorism that women are subjected to. But with the attitude of regular, garrulous people who have an opinion about everything that is happening in our society and have few clear-cut tips about how our society should behave and the country run.

Free gyaan – loud and clear over stale idlis and sambhar at the cafeteria. 

Today, I decided to test the attitude of these righteous people who diligently visit places of worship and offers high-sounding gyaan to anybody and everybody who cares to listen. At lunch, I shared the news about my campaign to remove the alcohol outlet that has cropped up near my apartment. I IMed this link, to few people and told them to sign if they want to without any compulsion. 

(Refer to

It was hilarious. Most of them ignored. (I expected that.) One lied. And one tried justifying the reason for not signing. 

I am concerned because these are the same people who cluck when they hear about gender terrorism, never missed TV programme like Satyameva Jayate, and indulge in social discourse. But freeze in fear of authority and change. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

My Experience at Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited

I went to the BESCOM office at Sarjapur on 8th November, 2012 to apply for name transfer. I carried all the required documents as listed here

The person collecting the bills, excitedly directed me to a BESCOM contractor for the indemnity bond and the agreement form. 

All he asked for was a mere Rs. 1500/ to get everything fixed. When I asked him to give me a break down of this money that he demanded, he clearly told me that the legal cost would be about Rs. 400/ and the rest of the money, he very confidently told me, would be to grease the hands of all the engineers involved in this area.

Obviously, I refused to pay this amount. Instead, I wrote to the top brass of BESCOM.  Mr. PManivannan responded immediately and proactively directed his team to enquire and suspend the license of the BESCOM contractor.

I got my name transferred in 30 minutes without paying bribe.

Thank you, Mr. Manivannan!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Getting the Khata of Your Apartment.

Well, I do not really enjoy visiting the Government offices. But one has to do what one has to do! So, I popped in at the Sarjapur Panchayat office to find out the details about applying for a Khata for my apartment.

I entered the Vice-chairman's office. He was with the Panchayat Development Officer. They were evasive and did not clearly spell out the documents that I needed to submit. So, I met the Chairman, Mr. Syed Ahmed Afzal. He explained in detail the process and the documents that I was required to submit. It is very simple. You have to submit:

  • An application ( on plain paper) addressed to the President of the gram panchayat.
  • A xerox of the sales deed. 

It normally takes about a month to get the khata. But Mr. Afzal clearly ( must say very bravely) told me to hand over the application to him directly since the staff might keep delaying on one pretext or the other. He said I would get the Khata in 2 days.

Fingers crossed!

21st October, 2012

I submitted the application for khata transfer certificate on 3rd October to the Bill Collector, Mr. Chinnappa. (No, I didn't hand over the application to the Chairman. I didn't want the yoke of obligation around my neck.) It normally takes a month to get this certificate. This is because, the PDO announces about the application in the gram panchayat area to validate the assertion of the property. The Khata Transfer Certificate is issued to the claimant if no claims are made within 30 days of applying. Fair!

And I got my Khata in 2 weeks!

No bribe paid!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Getting my Apartment Registered in Bangalore

I bought an (resale) apartment from an individual who had not taken possession of the flat from the builder (The Confident Group ) and had a loan going.

The builder was my point of contact for this purchase and I had absolutely no interaction with the seller. In fact, the senior executive from The Confident Group, refused to share the seller contact details.

The builder helped me in getting the housing loan through Axis bank and ensured that all the documents related to the apartment were handed over to the bank executive for verification.

The builder demanded that I pay Rs.30,000/ in cash. This, I was told, would be used to grease the palms of the brokers and lawyers attached to the sub-registrar’s office. I was strictly against giving a bribe to get my work done. I categorically refused to give any extra money for which I will not get a receipt. The executive told me to get the registration done on my own and that The Confident Group would not be able to handle this.

Note, I never received an email about the cash payment information from The Confident Group.  It was only communicated over the phone. My emails on this topic too were ignored.

I contacted few people who had recently purchased apartments, and all said that they had to give some hefty amount in cash to the builder for registration and khata. I also contacted  the organization, Their comment was, It is illegal to undervalue the property, but because of the Land Mafia in Bangalore, even though you want to be honest, it is impossible to go with the actual value i.e government value. You will have to pay the buyer extra. And, the extra cash you have asked to keep is to bribe the sub-registrar. Friends, we need to come up with something to stop this land mafia killing our people.( )

A day before the registration, I contacted  Mr. Raghunandan, who was travelling. He told me not to buckle and get the registration done. His golden words still reverberate in my ears, “Bribe takers are really cowards”. And, indeed they are!

(Mr. T R Raghunandan, IAS, is a member of the State Planning Board – Karnataka and also initiated forums to tackle corruption. Sri  Raghunandan has served as Secretary of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj for Karnataka and as Joint Secretary in the Union Ministry of Panchayat Raj, before retiring voluntarily in 2009. He is a consultant on fiscal decentralization and local governance to international development agencies such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).)

Raghu linked me to Pritam who, too, had refused to bribe for registering his apartment. Pritam, was very helpful. He diligently explained the process of registration and motivated me not to give in to anti-social pressure.  He also shared the “India Against Corruption” badges.

I went to the Sub-Registrar’s office, with my daughter. We wore the “India Against Corruption” badge.   (The scene is like any other government office – hoards of people some chewing paan, and many with the “menial” look, ready to drop at the feet of the unbuttoned paan chewing loafers that acted like their messiah.)

My daughter and I were looked at with much curiosity. I guess, that’s because they saw a school girl and a professionally attired lady flaunting “India Against Corruption” badge barging in directly to the Sub-Registrar’s office sans a broker or a male companion.

It is very easy to get your apartment registered, and you do not have to part with your hard-earned money either.

This is how I acquired a 1244 sq ft of place in my name, and it did not even take 30 minutes:

  •         I directly contacted the sub-registrar and asked him the procedure to get the property registered.
  •          He asked for the sales deed, encumbrance certificate, tax paid receipts, and the khata. I had the print out of all these docs.  This was the 1st step. Getting the papers verified.
  •        The sales deed, and the other forms were signed by me and the seller. 
  •      Witness signature was also acquired.
  •          I gave the bank drafts for the registration and stamp duty.
  •          I paid Rs.360/ only towards scanning charges.
No, I did not have to run from one table to another with folded hands.  All I had to run for before I went to the government office was to:
·         Get the documents in order. Get print-outs and Xerox.
·         Get the drafts towards registration and stampduty.
·        Call up people to understand the process.

What flummoxed me is, The Confident Group is a member of CREDAI, and they also have a registration department that handles the registration and the khata-related work.  However, they ask for cash payment from their customer.  I can’t help but wonder, how eloquently they are fooling their customers and also indulging and promoting corruption.

I would like to reiterate, we are responsible for the sharks at government offices - If you are clean and do not have anything to hide, why be scared!

I have another task on hand - to get the khata for my apartment and transferring the electricity meter to my name.

Stay tuned for more updates !