A reputed builder built a multi-crore 15 storey 200 apartment unit overlooking a lake in Bangalore. The complex was nearly completed with final touches being given to it. The idea of having a house overlooking the lake and close to nature enticed several people to invest in this development. The lake was pitched as unique selling proposition and the price of the apartment units were priced almost 30% more the market value. One fine morning, the city authorities cracked down on the developer ordering the developer to stop construction activities. It was later learnt that the builder had violated the lakes buffer zone and had encroached on a storm water drain by building the apartment complex on it, and diverted the flow of the storm water drain. The authorities seized the property and ordered the removal of the makeshift housing of the workers.
According to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), landmark judgement of May 2016, a 75-meter buffer zone should be maintained around the lake and wetlands. In case of Storm Water Drains (SWD), a 50-meter buffer from the edge of primary SWD, a 35-meter buffer from the edge of a secondary SWD and a 25-meter buffer from a tertiary SWD has to be maintained. Many of the buyers who had invested in this property were devastated as they saw their hard-earned life savings literally “go down the drain!”
Potential buyers who are investing in projects close to water bodies should approach the sale with caution. It is important for a potential buyer to be aware if the developer is encroaching on the lake buffer zone or the storm water drain. While it is the responsibility of local authorities to conduct proper due diligence of the proposed properties submitted for approvals, it is imperative that buyers also conduct a due diligence before investing their life savings. Currently, with the absence of any official maps, it is best to rely on the services of a qualified surveyor to ensure that the proposed development does not encroach on the lake or storm water drain buffers. There are revenue maps as well as Google maps available to check against this and it is critical that prospective buyers hire the services of a professional before buying the property.