Perhaps the only people who have had a real windfall since the creation of Uttarakhand are those engaged in Real Estate business. Intense speculation had led to land prices doubling in as little as a year. Given that 60% of all transactions are done in black, the dazzle of this business is there for all to see. How much was the contribution of this segment of our society in the struggle for creation of Uttarakhand is a point to ponder about. How many of them were here during the struggle is a still bigger question. The people who actually struggled for this State have been left high and dry. Is this the state they dreamt of, where even a small piece of land is beyond their reach?
The aggressive reaction of the people engaged in Real Estate to the enactment of Uttarakhand Land Reforms Act ordinance underscores the need of land reforms in Uttarakhand. If the dazzle of black money could be reduced, the intense speculations in land would be curtailed.
As a first step Real Estate dealers must be licensed. If Doctors, Engineers, Accountants, Nurses, technicians and even roadside vendors can be licensed, why should Property Dealers be an exception? The only reason they are not licensed is the political clout they hold due to their ability to donate liberally. Mainstream political parties need funds for conducting their business and hence their dependence on real estate dealers. Moreover, to protect their interests real estate dealers often masquerade as politicians. Obviously, any attempt to regularize them will be met with a vociferous protest and more strikes, but then if the Government has interests of common Uttarakhandi in mind, it must bell the cat.
Annual Returns should be filed indicating all the deals which they facilitated and also all deals in which they appeared as witnesses. One would not expect anyone to spend time repeatedly appearing as a witness without any material benefit.
All registries should have the name of the Real Estate Dealer written in them. This will force all persons involved to declare the transactions in their annual returns, plus increase the income tax collections of the government.
Further, Real Estate Agents should be required to verify details of any property they sell. This will give legal protection to innocent people who are duped into buying disputed or bad properties.
The Government looses a lot of money by the “routine practice” of undervaluing the property during registry and giving the balance money in black. This is the real stimulus which spurs Real Estate Agents. To reduce this Circle Rates should be made realistic and properties found substantially undervalued should not be accepted for registry or the property could simply be acquired by paying 10% more than the quoted price and auctioned. Mere threat of such a possibility will have dramatic effect.
Finally the amended act must be implemented in Urban areas also to bring relief to the Urban Middle Class.
The strike on Saturday reflects the fight between the innocent middle class people of the State and rich Real Estate Dealers, who are desperate because of the dwindling in their huge profits. Whatever little success they can claim to have achieved was only due to use of muscle power and should not be mistaken for sympathy for their cause.
Who wins in this fight will determine the future of people of Uttarakhand, the silent majority or the vocal few. Should Uttarakhand should be a heaven for tourists, pilgrims, nature enthusiasts or a heaven for land sharks? It is up to each of us to decide. Being a part of dissenting silent majority is not the right answer. As Nick Homer, executive director of “Good Citizen” in US put it: “The ‘Silent Majority’? There is no "Silent Majority". It's an oxymoron. In a democracy, when the majority is silent, they are the minority.” So, we all must speak up; in this fight for land in Uttarakhand, there can be no neutrals.
||Get Updates||Get SMS Updates|