Marshlands registrations ban traps unauthorised sector

Realtors in Chennai are unhappy with the ban ordered last November by the Madras High Court on registration of documents pertaining to properties on marshlands. Last week on the court’s directions, the government informed the public about the ban, which is a move to protect the fast disappearing wetlands.

Pallikaranai marshland encroachment. [Source:]

“This is a blanket ban. This blanket ruling from the judiciary will definitely have a bearing [on the real estate sector], following the political turmoil and demonetization, which didn’t augur well for us. It’s not a good move,” felt Arun Kumar, MD of real estate company Casa Grande.

Anjan Rangaraj, MD of Cedilla Group asked, “How can we have a blanket ban without properly categorizing lands?” He said that even drylands were wrongly being taken into consideration under the ban meant only for wetlands being converted to residential layouts and sold, flouting Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) norms.

It was a major problem of poor classification of lands, whether it was dryland, wetland, recognized or an unrecognized land, felt Rangaraj.

“It is unfortunate that marshlands are being destroyed but everybody is getting caught in the crossfire. Even I am caught. I have developed properties on drylands and I only have a 1951 document as proof,” he added

Sanjay Chugh, Founder of Skyline Property Consultants, felt that it was the unauthorized sector which would be affected badly by the ban.

“It is mostly gullible people who will be impacted. The ones who unknowingly invested. They’d have been tricked into it — they’d have been told it is okay to build on the marshland and that there wouldn’t be any problem”, he said.

“The ones who make unauthorized layouts or constructions are the ones who have been trapped. They can neither buy nor sell the property/land– they can’t liquidate them into cash,” explained Chugh, referring to the ban in September 2016 on registration of sale deeds of unauthorised layouts and conversion of agricultural areas for non-agriculture use, meant to check unplanned urban development.

The big players in the field have nothing to lose as “Akshaya, TVH… these are reputed names. They’d have the approval from the Ministry of Environmental Affairs. Plus, bank funding is involved. You know the banks insist on microscopic checks,” said Chugh.

Chugh added that the properties which complied with guidelines like Hiranandani in Oragadam have better valuation. “It’s actually an advantage. Buyers will be willing to pay a little more too, knowing that everything has been followed.”

“There has been no pacification from the government. They’ve not filed the norms and guidelines asked for by the court,” added Rangaraj.

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