It was a few months back that the local and national media was abuzz with the Kerala real estate fraud. As usual, the buzz died in its infancy and those who lost money continued to suffer. Although the main builder in news was 'Apple-A-Day', there were many more that were either intentionally cheating their clients or got caught up in this frenzy and went down.
"It's for realising the dream of owning a house in one's native place that NRIs like me invested over Rs. 45 lakh each in the project. But even after 5 years, nothing has been completed," said R P Abdul Hameed, a victim.
It was during this time that one of Hubby’s friends in his late 30’s was admitted in the hospital due to a mild heart attack. In fact, Hubby was totally unaware of it until this friend called him and told him about it. This friend used to come home mostly during the weekends to chat with Hubby and to exchange movies that they download over the net. He seemed to be a perfectly healthy chap and used to tell us that he walked daily and was maintaining his health thus. But when this heart attack came up unexpectedly, I did mention to Hubby that it could be because of some shock; maybe the real estate fraud? Finally he came after a long trip to Kerala where he got a thorough check up and medical advice. We broached the subject of the fraud and then it came tumbling out. Yes, even he is one of the victim. But though he did not say that this is the reason for the attack, I continue to suspect so. This builder is a famous cine artist in Kerala and hence our friend had no reason to suspect him, but the apartment complex was not completed even after 4 years. And more over, the construction has now been completely stopped in the original place and the reason the builder is giving is some union/labour issue. The investors are being promised of the project at a different location but not the money they invested. This friend is yet to sign the new contract.
Here in Kuwait, the builders from India make their yearly visit with the aid of a few sponsors (mainly private banks) and catch the willing clients.
I am sure there are many more such victims here in Kuwait itself and most of them are keeping quiet out of shame or since they feel that it is a lost cause. But is it really so? A colleague’s friend faced the same problem but since the victims united and filed a case in the consumer court, the builder was forced to complete the project and also pay compensation for the lost time. The financial compensation was calculated by the rent amount for the said period.
But as seen on the facebook group for “apple a day” victims, they seem to be still grappling with it. The latest news is that the builders have been granted bail.
In Kuwait, there are hundreds of associations but I am yet to see even one for such reasons. Today the local online portal for Indians too, mentions about the “usefulness” of these associations.
I think associations can be put to use very well and one way could be a resident association comprising of the future tenants, from the start of the project itself. Something similar seems to be a success and you can see it for yourself here.
In GVK’s words,
We have common concerns, and there is much that can be done if we discuss issues, share info. and come up with ideas that could make life and living on OMR a shade better than we now find it.
Taken from one of the blog post…
Mantri, good or bad, it's my money, its my HOME and I will do whatever it takes along with the help of all our neighbours to make this place a good, up-class and liveable place. That is the mantra for the residents who have moved in till now and that is what was decided even in our last meeting.
Anyway, now that people are more cautious about real estate, something else seems to be on the horizon; the kuries. While the kuries have been in Kerala since ages and some may be indeed trustworthy, the frequent, pesky, senseless advertisements on TV seems to be pointing towards yet another scam/fraud waiting to unfold for the Keralites.