Himachal Pradesh has spiked plans of over 60 builders and developers to sell flats and cottages in the hill state.
The developers include DLF, Janta Land Promoter Ltd, Omax Construction Pvt Ltd, Optima Construction Pvt Ltd, Amar Nath Aggarwal Builders Pvt Ltd and Surya Builders, according to officials.
Town and Country Planning Minister Mohinder Singh asked the assembly Aug 29 to repeal the Himachal Pradesh Apartment and Property Regulation Act of 2005.
He said a new comprehensive legislation would be introduced for urban development and regional planning.
"Until such time that the new law is enacted, no registrations, essentiality certificates and licences are to be issued (to the realtors) or renewed under the act with immediate effect," he said.
The apartment act was brought into place by the previous Congress government and enables builders to construct and sell flats in various categories.
Mohinder Singh told IANS that no new registrations of flats or cottages being constructed by private builders would be done till thenew act comes into force.
They had earlier been permitted to build houses under the apartment act.
Even the transfer of flats constructed by state-run Himachal Pradesh Urban Development Authority (HIMUDA) has been halted.
"Those who got their properties registered on or before Aug 29 are valid," the minister added.
Officials said since the apartment act came into effect, the government allowed over 60 realtors to construct apartments, cottages and dwelling units across the state.
Most of them are in Shimla and Solan districts.
Representatives of builders say the real estate business will virtually come to a halt with the moratorium on property transactions.
They say more than 1,000 apartments and cottages, which are near completion, are awaiting transfer in the name of buyers.
"What is our fault? We got the permission from the government to constructs cottages. Now when the construction is almost complete, the government has imposed a ban on property transaction. It's totally unjust," said a builder setting up cottages in Kasauli hills of Solan district.
He said the ban would hit other upcoming projects too.
Another realtor said the reality business would remain dormant for over a year as the tenure of the present BJP government would end in December.
"Till the new act comes into being, the property transactions will remain at a standstill," he added.
"The government can now bring an ordinance to provide relief to both the buyers and sellers by allowing them to get their properties registered," a senior official of the town and country planning said.
Mohinder Singh said the decision to repeal the act had been taken on the basis of the recommendation of the select committee of the assembly as well as a judicial commission headed by Justice D.P. Sood, a former judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, probing illegal land transactions.
In the report tabled in the assembly in April this year, Sood recommended to the government that the apartment act be immediately withdrawn.
"Builders are creating concrete jungles and spoiling the natural forested environment of the state. The demand of Himachalis (to own a flat) can be easily met by HIMUDA; hence no private player should be allowed," Sood said in his 147-page report.
The commission observed that the builders were catering to the needs of the rich from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and non-resident Indians.
Under Himachal land laws, only the state's permanent residents can buy land in the state. Others who want to purchase land for non-agricultural purposes have to seek relaxation under section 118 of the tenancy and land reforms law from the government.