KOLKATA: Enthused by the infrastructure tag to the real estate sector, developers in Kolkata have returned to the drawing board to design 1BHK and 2BHK projects with an eye to launch them in five-six months. But even as they are excited about the prospect of foraying into a new segment of low-cost homes, there is a nagging concern over procedural delays that could needlessly escalate costs.
Speaking to media, Merlin Projects managing director Sushil Mohta said all stakeholders, including the concerned government ministries and departments, needed to display positive intent to take the affordable housing initiative forward.
“To make the Budget proposal a reality, we must all look at ways to squeeze costs so that buyers get the best deal. While developers will look at projects that have scale and integrate design and technology to bring down the cost of individual units, one area that needs to be addressed is delays in clearances. If projects under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna that are categorised infrastructure project are treated like roads and bridges and speedily cleared, it can lead to 10-15% saving in cost,” said Mohta.
The three major delays that developers face are in environment clearance, urban land ceiling and land conversion. While the Central government has to step in to streamline the first, the state has to deal with the other two clearances. At present project clearances take 9-36 months. Developers want this to be compressed to 45-60 days.
Since the intent is to provide affordable housing, the past president of Credai-Bengal, the umbrella organisation of builders in the state, says stakeholders must work towards making it a reality. The maximum delay currently happens at urban development department that sits on a proposal citing Urban Land Ceiling Act (ULCA) that limits holding to 7.5 cottah. Clearance is given on case-by-case basis.
“In the PMAY scheme, one can develop four affordable units on one cottah land. On 7.5 cottah, 20 units can be constructed after making provision for other facilities. That clearly achieves the goal of ULCA,” said Mohta.
Credai-Bengal president Nandu Belani also believes this is the right time for the state government and Kolkata Municipal Corporation to revisit a proposal that it had submitted on redeveloping of slums in Kolkata that exist cheek buy jowl with condominium projects.
“Residents of slums aspire for a better life. Many a times, the stark disparity has sparked social tension. There is a need for improving the living condition in slums. Redevelopment is happening in Mumbai. It can happen in Kolkata too if Bengal comes up with a policy,” said Belani. A central government policy on slum redevelopment under PMAY is already in place.
While there are multiple challenges including legal wrangles over land ownership, Thika Tenancy and encroachment on government land, Credai officials said it is time to begin a consultation to resolve the issues.
Credits ET Realty