Amid worsening air quality in the Delhi-NCR region, the Centre on December 22 ordered a ban on non-essential construction work and plying of BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel four-wheelers in Delhi-NCR. The measure is expected to further delay completion of real estate projects, impacting hundreds of homebuyers who were to get possession of their housing units in a few months’ time.
“We will now have to pay both our equated monthly installments and rent for another six months,” said a buyer invested in a project in Greater Noida. He had been promised delivery of the housing unit in the next three months.
It is important that such bans are initiated to bring AQI under control and further deterioration in air quality in the region. However, it is the homebuyers who will have to face collateral damage on account of delay in completion timelines, said Rajiva Singh, President, Noida Federation of Apartment Owners Associations (NOFAA), body of Association of Allottees in Gautam Buddha Nagar
“There are projects that are nearing completion and are to be handed over to homebuyers in the next few months. These will now be further delayed, he told HT Digital.
Several home buyers are already servicing their home loans and paying rents. It is a double whammy for them, he said, adding there is no end to homebuyers’ woes.
Real estate developers also voiced concern.
A short ban on construction activity can lead to at least two to three months delay in project completion, said G Hari Babu, national president of NAREDCO.
“The developers also have an obligation towards financial institutions that have lent finance for projects and to customers for timely delivery, which, in case of delay may lead to extra monetary burden on them. Further, all RERA-approved projects are mandated to strictly observe pollution-control measures, and should, therefore, be brought under “essential projects under public interests” and exemption from GRAP should be considered,” he said.
The government’s decision to halt construction is an attempt to address the deteriorating air quality in Delhi-NCR. This is expected to lead to further delay in completion of ongoing projects, said Nayan Raheja, Raheja Developers.
This is the second time this year that non-essential construction and demolition activities have been banned by the Centre’s air quality panel. Before this, the CAQM had invoked GRAP III measures on November 3; these were again revoked on November 30, 2023.
Unfavourable meteorological conditions including fog and haze with low wind speed are the major causes for a sudden spike in Delhi’s daily average air quality index (AQI), the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), a statutory body responsible for formulating strategies to combat pollution in the region, said in an order on December 22.
Construction work related to national security or defense, projects of national importance, healthcare, railways, metro rail, airports, interstate bus terminals, highways, roads, flyovers, overbridges, power transmission, pipelines, sanitation, and water supply are exempted from the ban.
GRAP categorises actions into four stages: Stage I – ‘Poor’ (AQI 201-300); Stage II – ‘Very Poor’ (AQI 301-400); Stage III – ‘Severe’ (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV – ‘Severe Plus’ (AQI>450)