West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
NEW DELHI/ KOLKATA: The Centre’s target to bring all new and ongoing real estate projects under Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) has received a setback as West Bengal government has notified its own law for the sector in the state. This surprised many considering the state had notified the draft rules last year as per the power given to the respective state governments under the Central law.

“It was a surprise for us why the state government preferred new legislation of its own — West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WBHIRA) — other than to dilute the RERA provisions to favour developers. All other states have adopted RERA, which was implemented after several scrutinies of parliamentary committees and was even upheld by the Bombay High Court,” said Abhay Upadhyay of Forum For People’s Collective Efforts (FPCE), the citizens group that mobilised flat buyers for passage of the law.

Housing ministry sources said West Bengal’s law has not yet got the presidential assent, which is essential since there is already a central law to deal with similar issues. Section 254 of the Constitution specifies that if any provision of a law made by state legislature is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament then the law made by Parliament shall prevail.

There are two major dilutions of RERA in the new law notified by the Mamata Banerjee government. The first is on unforeseen circumstances that prevent a builder from fulfilling his contract. RERA says the circumstances could be war, flood, drought, fire, cyclone, earthquake or any other calamity caused by nature where HIRA makes an addition to the clause “...or any other circumstances as may be prescribed.”

The second deviation is on garages. While RERA requires a roof and walls on three sides, HIRA has removed the clause altogether and defined garage as any parking space sanctioned by the government authority.