An average Indian family longs for their own home. Once any family secures a house for themselves that they can call their own, a big burden is lifted off their shoulders. But what can one do when home buyers are duped by builders into buying substandard homes, more precisely, apartments? A middle-class family in India’s metropolitan cities can dream of buying an apartment for themselves. Their financial standing does not allow them a villa or a bungalow. In fact, even upper-middle-class families settle for apartments, albeit in posh and well-known societies.
Does that make such families immune to the risks of living in an apartment? Imagine putting in all your savings and finances in buying a decent apartment ranging between Rs. 1 to 2 crores, only to see entire towers come crumbling down. This is what happened with the residents of Chintels Paradiso – a posh housing society in Haryana’s Gurugram.
Apartments Are Unsafe
Days after several houses at Chintels Paradiso in Gurugram collapsed, the Department of Town and Country Planning has declared four more apartment towers unfit for living. In some houses, the iron bars in ceilings are entirely visible. In others, plaster is falling and there are big cracks. 200 families have been rendered homeless, and are currently on the lookout for alternative accommodation.
Two women lost their lives and one person was injured in the accident. A case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code relating to cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy has been filed against several individuals including Chintels India Managing Director Prashant Solomon.
Saloni, a resident of Tower E of Chintels Paradiso said, “Where do we go suddenly? My child has his board exams coming up and is already traumatised by the collapse of Tower D. Now where do we find a new place at such short notice.” Seema, from Tower F, said, “My flat has developed cracks and we lay awake each night after the collapse, scared of dying. I have spent ₹ 40 lakh on furniture and interiors, how can I just go. We are ruined.”
Hundreds of families put in crores of rupees to first buy these apartments. Then, they spent lakhs on interior works. Now, the towers have begun collapsing. These are not super-rich families. They are ordinary, middle and upper-middle-class families who now have nowhere to go. When will they get reimbursed? When will the repair works be completed? Is minor repair work sufficient to secure these towers? If not, when will the towers be dismantled and rebuilt, if at all? Until then, where will the 200 families live?
These are just some of the questions that have arisen out of the Chintels Paradiso fiasco, but the problem is not just with this one society. Almost every builder and developer in India’s metropolitan cities has been duping home buyers. These builders build substandard, unsafe and earthquake-prone towers which scrape through the sky. They do not invest in building quality homes. Instead, they focus on the aesthetics of society.
The Appearance of Posh Housing Societies
The aesthetics of hosing societies is what lures buyers. A 3 BHK flat is not all that people initially want. Of course, if a person is putting in a crore rupees to buy an apartment, it is but natural for them to expect a great living experience in the society as well.
So, builders use gymnasiums, clubs, steam rooms, tennis courts, indoor heated swimming pools, restaurants, cafes, party halls, gardens and parks as perks. These services are offered to all home buyers. Buying an apartment is made out to be a package deal that can substantially uplift the standard of living of people.
However, after a year of staying in such a society, will home buyers be constantly leaving their homes to enjoy the services offered within the society? No, they will not. And yet, they are charged for all of it every year.
Builders can conveniently ignore construction quality and safety and quickly build towering apartments. These can instantly get filled with families due to the aura and hype that developers strategically create. But these towers can come crashing down any time, as has happened with Chintels Paradiso.
Apartments are convenient, right? All that you need is money. You get a brilliant living experience in the society you choose. But nobody really thinks of such apartments collapsing. Indians need to be wary of big-bang apartment projects that promise all the luxuries of the world to them. There is a high chance that such buildings have been constructed in haste, without keeping in mind any quality regulations. Most buildings are even built without supervision. Accidents, therefore, come as a natural occurrence to such towers.
Home buyers are always the ones who end up putting all their money on such flats and then losing everything they have. The celebration of apartment culture in India needs to stop now!