ParliamentThe Lok Sabha on Tuesday discussed the bill that seeks to protect the interests of property buyers against unscrupulous promoters and set up a sectoral watchdog, with the opposition Congress party saying it too favours the legislation.

“We want to pass the bill,” Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge said in a brief intervention when Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu was explaining to the members various facets of the bill.

Naidu said the bill is a pro-reform step undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in order to bring about ease of doing business in the country. “We can no longer perform without reforms,” he said.

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The Real Estate Regulator (Regulation and Development) Bill, pending before parliament since 2013, got approval of the Rajya Sabha on March 10.

A major benefit for consumers proposed in the bill is that builders will have to quote prices based on carpet area and not super built-up area, while carpet area has been clearly defined in the bill to include usable spaces like kitchen and toilets.

The bill makes it mandatory for all commercial and residential real estate projects where the land is over 500 square metres, or eight apartments, to register with the regulator for launching a project, in order to provide greater transparency in project-marketing and execution.

For failure to register, it proposes a penalty of up to 10 percent of the project cost or three years’ imprisonment.

Naidu said the main purpose of the bill is to protect consumer interest.

“Sometimes we are called pro-business, I do not mind being called that. After all business and industry (people) are also Indians,” he said, adding the interests of farmers and consumers will also be protected.

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In order to ensure protection of all stakeholders and concerned sectors, Naidu said before bringing the bill in parliament, he and his department had held elaborate consultations with various ministries.

“We held detailed meetings with colleagues like Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and others from the ministries of environment, defence, civil aviation and culture,” he said.