Mantri Premero residents gets home after 10 years

Mantri Premero residents

Mantri Premero residents in Bengaluru get homes after 10 years. Ramakant Kulkarni a resident says he can never forget the morning of February 11, 2016. “I was out of town when I learnt that a liquidator had come to lock Mantri (Realty) Premero, a residential complex where we had booked a 2.5 BHK flat. My family rushed there and found about 150 people like us there.

Together, we begged the liquidator to spare our homes. Some showed soft copies of sale agreements and email exchanges, some cried, some pledged to go on a hunger strike. The liquidator pasted the court order on the gate and left, but not before advising us that if we went to court and fought this together, we would win.”

After moving court for three years, spending Rs 50 lakh cumulatively and making numerous sacrifices, their fight has not been in vain.

Now, the almost 55 families have finally moved into Premero, a 253-flat, ground-plus-16-floor complex off Sarjapur Road. That’s not it. Today, these flat buyers own this building along with its landowner, throwing the builder, Mumbai-based Mantri Realty, out of the equation. Two weeks ago, they celebrated their first Ganesh Chathurti in their building.

On Tuesday, some residents recounted to BM their bittersweet journey, hoping that it would inspire other flat owners who are locked in a battle with their builders.

Ashutosh Narayan had booked an apartment here in 2011 at the age of 27, just before he got married. Now, the principal systems engineer is a father to two girls. “We were all around the same age and planning our future,” says Biki Surekha, a director at a mutual fund company.

The issue with the homes

The Premero project was floated in 2009 by Mantri Realty as the developer, on land belonging to a Bengaluru-based owner. Things were moving fine until in 2012, the flat buyers noticed that the pace of construction had slowed down while the developer was allegedly making demands to pay the balance amount towards the flats.

Kulkarni, who led the fight along with Narayan and Rahul Chaudhari, an associate consultant analytics, recalls, “My flat was supposed to be ready by 2012 but they left half-done cement walls and scaffolding behind. Only 30 percent of the work was done. They cited issues with labourers and sometimes, the sand strike.”

However, Sunil Mantri, the then chairman of Mantri Realty, told BM, “We faced a few hurdles, such as municipal issues and permissions relating to roads and flooring. That’s why the construction slowed down.”

When repeated attempts to meet Sunil Mantri failed, the flat owners went to the consumer court in Bengaluru. “Between 2014 and 2016, we were called in for six to seven hearings but not even one took place. We would apply for leave from work to go to court, only to return with a sad face,” informs Kulkarni, who works as an assistant director at an MNC.

However, what really set off the panic in the buyers was when the Bombay High Court summoned real-estate baron Sunil Mantri for allegedly cheating investors, home buyers and borrowers to the tune of over Rs 300 crores in 2015, after which the court also called for the appointment of an official liquidator to take symbolic possession of assets owned by Mantri Realty. Everyone wondered what would happen to their homes.

Then the liquidator showed up at Premero. “Five days after his visit, 11 of us, including the landowner’s daughter, flew to Mumbai. And just like you see in films, we stood inside a Bombay High Court room, waving hands, hoping for a judge to notice us. Luckily for us, Justice KR Shriram saw us, heard us out and instructed the official liquidator to look into our case,” adds Kulkarni. Meanwhile, they had formed the Premero Apartment Buyers Welfare Association.

Soon after, lawyers were hired. In October 2016, Justice Gautam S Patel directed the landowner to complete the building, for which each buyer was asked to pay Rs 250 for per sq feet of their home (remember, this is above the almost 100 percent payment they had already made). The money came in but it wasn’t enough. In March 2019, the court directed the two parties (the landowner and the buyers) to pay up an additional amount of Rs134 per sq feet.

Info- et realty