Builders and developers around the country have been complaining about the downturn in the market for well over 3 years now. But the downturn never really affected their marketing and advertising budgets it seems. As more and more stars, celebrities who don’t come cheap mind you, lined up as brand ambassadors waxing eloquent about the virtues of investing in this group or the other. Case in point is the cricket superstar MS Dhoni who is facing flak over the Amrapali Group, a brand that he endorsed which is failing to deliver project and amenities on time.
The Amrapali Sapphire controversy has just highlighted the worst kept secret for thousands of such investors across the country, especially in the NCR region about high handedness of developers and builders and the underhanded, borderline illegal ways they adopt to “handle” customers who’ve paid in full but get only a fraction of the amenities they were promised. In worse cases, the projects get delayed for years on end for a variety of reasons: ranging from lack of capital, regulatory permits, construction delays, you name it.
Now delays are not the worst form of torture that investors and paying consumers have to face, in the middle of the Amrapali outrage, we have a case in Bangalore where the builder tried to intimidate residents of the housing society with hired gun-toting goons hoping it would silence the largely middle class residents into submission. Unfortunately for the Ajmera Infinity Developers, the entire sequence was captured by one of the harassed residents.
The big question that we are asking tonight is: what is stopping the police to take suo motu cognizance of such cases? Will the new real estate law help people in their fight against errant and high handed developers who exploit the Indian middle class dream of owning a house and turn it into the new Indian middle class nightmare? Let’s not forget the celebrities who endorse such brands? Are they not liable? Does the argument by those like Dhoni and Shahrukh Khan hold any water when they say that celebrity endorsers cannot take the blame if brands don’t deliver? Isn’t that hypocritical to say the least?