Paying through the nose to buy a home without an address. Yes, you read that right. Such has been the experience for people like Gopal Chandra Banerjee, K G Nandi and Debasis Sen, who thought they were buying apartments in a township showcased as one of the country's best in the making.
Banerjee spent a lifetime's savings on purchasing an apartment in New Town, while Nandi spent a fortune on it. Sen had borrowed heavily to book flats on vast stretches of barren land that promoters promised to transform into ultra-modern living space. Their choice of condominium projects in Action Area 2 was a conscious one. Located close to VIP Road, it would provide a lifeline till the immediate locality developed sufficiently in the years ahead. They all thought they were acquiring a fancy address.
Four years on, they have all moved into rows of swanky condominiums with landscaped gardens, air-conditioned atriums and apartments with wall-to-wall marble floor. But these brick-and-mortar homes remain as much a mirage to the residents as they appear to those driving past on the high-speed expressway. For, none of these multi-crore complexes have an official address!
"This is the most unbelievable experience that I've had in life. These past eight months, I have been living in an apartment without a bona fide postal address though it was purchased legitimately," fumed Banerjee, a resident at Greenwood Sonata, adding that since the area was not under panchayat or municipality or corporation, the problem was vexing.
Though he is retired and entitled to pension, Banerjee has not been able to claim it as he has not been able to furnish a postal address to which mails will be delivered. "When I got the flat, I was told the PIN code is Kolkata 700157. But the Barasat and Hatiara post offices have refused to deliver mails, since these plots had not been notified as new addresses to them," he said.
Nandi, who lives in the adjoining complex Alaktika, said it felt like being marooned in sea despite residing in a metropolis. "There is no official communication with the outside world except through cellphones. We don't have any residential address proof to furnish to banks and other institutions. We don't even have utility bills like electricity and telephone to show. Not only is it tough to get a loan, it is difficult to even open a bank account," he rued.
Sen, who lives in condominium complex Uttara, knew he was moving into Kolkata 156. On arrival, he learnt it was Kolkata 157. But with the postal department refusing to allocate either PIN codes to the locality, he is in a fix.
"With no postal address, even couriers refuse mails. I have to collect everything, including cheques, from respective offices. Nothing, except bills of private cellular firms, are home-delivered. Only a couple of localized couriers accept letters to this area," he said.
Officials at Hidco and New Town Development Authority, the nodal agencies in charge of development of the satellite township, acknowledge the problem and claim they are doing everything possible to sort out the issue at the earliest. "From our end, we have assured residents all cooperation. The postal department has to cooperate now," a Hidco official said.
Banerjee and fellow resident Gautam Bhadra have done the rounds of the entire postal department, but to no avail. "We have visited offices of Kolkata circle postmaster general at Yogayog Bhavan, senior postal superintendent in Entally, assistant superintendent of posts at Kankurgachi as well as postmasters of Hatiara and Barasat. But the deadlock continues," he said.
Postal department officials said there were procedural issues that had not been complied with, leading to the delay. An official also said Hatiara post office had been asked to deliver mails to residents in Action Area 2 of Rajarhat but had been unable due to a manpower crunch.
Meanwhile, the Jhas chartered accountant Sudhir and company secretary Sangeeta dropped self-addressed postcards, inland letters and envelopes in post boxes across Kolkata, none of which has reached their Greenwood Sonata home yet.
TNN 3 August 2009
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