Tag Archives: Jairam Ramesh

Policy ambiguity responsible for keeping environmental concerns and development at loggerheads

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Biodiversity news, wetlands, Jairam Ramesh, Environment news, Delhi NCR real estate, Bangalore Real Estate, Track2Media, Track2Realty, ravi sinha, india realty news, india real estate news, real estate news india, realty news india, india property news, property news india, india news, property news, real estate news, Mumbai Real Estate, India PropertyTrack2Realty Exclusive: In the last few years a perception has gained ground within the built environment of Indian real estate that the environmental concerns are at loggerheads with the development. The collective consciousness seems to have believed that the real estate and infrastructure projects often compromise with the environmental concerns and to make a balance between the inevitable urbanisation and avoiding the natural erosion is not that easy. Now that the Government of India promises to settle these concerns and put the clearances on a fast forward track, Track2Realty Focus 2015 examines its pros and cons.

There should be absolutely no cross connection between the environmental concerns and the urban developments. Yet, these two have often been at the logger heads. The blame for this perception and resultant cold feet by both the developers as well as the government authorities goes partly to the lack of understanding about the issues and partly the policy ambiguities come as the major hindrance.

A lot of infrastructure projects in the last few years have actually suffered due to this lack of understanding and the policy ambiguity. As a matter of fact, such has been the extent of the confusion due to supposedly safeguarding the environmental concerns that even when the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh strongly advocated for fast track clearances of the projects, his own Minister of Environment & Forests (MoEF) flagged it by voicing reservations in the public domain. Much water has flown since then but the debate is far from being over.

Now with a stable Government at the Centre all eyes are yet again on the MoEF to see how this government deals with the environmental concerns while making sure that the real estate and infrastructure projects do not suffer in the process. After all, the Narendra Modi Government has already promised creation of 100 new cities in their election manifesto.

Analysts believe if only the new government goes by the decision of the MoEF of the previous government that decided in June 2013 that the timelines stipulated in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, would have to be strictly followed by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) while processing proposals for Terms of Reference/Environmental Clearance pertaining to building and construction and township and area development projects, a lot of delays can be checked.

The sector has been routinely complaining that the real estate projects face inordinate delays in securing environmental clearances. The delays, in a majority of the cases, lead to substantial cost escalation, the brunt of which is ultimately borne by the buyers. In December 2012, a ten-member committee under the chairmanship of Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Member, Planning Commission, was constituted by the MoEF to review the provisions of the EIA Notification, 2006, relating to grant of environmental clearances for roads, buildings and SEZ projects, as well as the February 2012 guidelines for high rise buildings.

The committee has already submitted its report. One of the terms of reference of the committee was to review the requirement of environmental clearances for buildings and real estate projects so as to avoid duplication considering that such projects are covered by local civic authorities and under provisions of the relevant master plan, building control regulations and safety regulations.

The MoEF’s decision concerning adherence to timelines stipulated in the EIA Notification, 2006, is in line with the recommendation of the committee on the ToR. It requires the SEAC to make appropriate recommendations within 60 days of the receipt of the complete proposal from project proponents. The SEIAA would consider recommendations of the SEAC and convey its decision to the applicant within 45 days of the receipt of recommendations.

The MoEF is going to regularly review the progress in disposal of cases by SEIAAs with the objective of meeting the timelines. In order to avoid delays in processing of proposals, project proponents have to provide complete information at the time of submission of documents for ToR/EC.

To ensure adherence to the stipulated timelines, avoid duplication of work, and speed up the scrutiny process, the SEIAAs and SEACs would focus only on certain thrust areas of environmental sustainability while appraising building and construction and township and area development projects.

The thrust areas include brief description of the project in terms of location and surroundings, environmental impacts on project land and its surrounding developments and vice-versa, water balance chart, waste water treatment and its details including target standards, alterations in the natural slope and drainage pattern and their environmental impacts on the surroundings, ground water potential of the site and likely impacts of the project, solid waste management during construction and post construction phases, air quality and noise levels and their likely impacts during construction and operational phases of the project, energy requirements, traffic circulation system and connectivity, green belt/green cover and landscape plan, disaster/risk assessment and management plan, socio economic impacts of the project and corporate social responsibility, environmental management plan during construction and operational phases, and any other related parameter of the project that could impact environmental sustainability and ecology.

The SEIAAs and the SEACs would not focus on other issues normally looked after by concerned local bodies, state government departments and state pollution control boards. In case of large pendency, the state government could send a proposal to the MoEF for notifying another SEAC.

The industry analysts are not impressed either with the confusion and policy ambiguities that prevail the functioning of the urban development. Pranay Vakil, Chairman, Praron Consultancy pointedly throws some questions like, should factories exist where they exist in the cities? How to preserve the green cover and what should be the norms? What is the larger interest for the largest number of people? According to him, pro-active developmental policies may hurt some people but the government has to decide what greater good is for greater number of people. He questions the rationale of CRZ and questions whether there is political will to do which everyone thinks is right.

“The biggest problem is the lack of coordination among various power centres who are often working at the cross purposes. Even if the Chief Minister in Mumbai finds there is a need for an airport but the Environment Ministry sitting in Delhi does not even fully appreciate what the problems in Mumbai is then who will take a final call. The Environment Ministry may sit over the file for two years despite the Chief Minister following it up. So, you have two authorities who are conflicting against each other, and the incremental cost of the delay is into thousands of crores. How are you going to address it,” questions Vakil.

Santosh Naik, MD and CEO of Disha Direct sounds optimistic when he says that the factories in a city like Mumbai will eventually go from the main cities because the sheer land value is higher than their production for the next 10 years. In New York or Manhattan there is no factory because of the high land prices. There are only offices; even the residences are on periphery, like New Jersey. So, a city like Mumbai will soon become like Manhattan.

“As far as green cover is concerned, is there any policy that the land owner will have to maintain it? If that be the case, the biggest land bank is with the government. For individuals, you cannot have more than 50 acre of agriculture land. But the corporates are holding thousand acres of urban land. So, as a land owner my interest is not to provide green cover but to see how much money I can make out of this land that I have. So, there has to be a clear guideline for that,” recommends Naik.

There seem to be a consensus among the developers and analysts that environmental concerns are misplaced and it does not come in the way of urban development, if only the policies are framed in a way that there is clarity for every stake holder. That clarity has been a missing link and one only hopes that the new government at Centre will address it. If it is addressed, probably the World Environment Day will be more meaningful for the sector, which has actually been at the receiving end with environmental clearances being one of the major handicaps.

Fitch finds India’s real estate outlook negative for H2 ’12

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fitch ratings, india real estate news, real estate news india, india realty news, realty news india, kumari selja, rohtas goel, Kapil Sibal, sonia gandhi, rahul gandhi, manmohan singh, Unitech, DLF, india property news, property news india, naredco, affordable housing, government of india, ndtv.com, ndtv, zeenews, aajtak, times of india, hindustan times, indian real estate forum, indianrealestateforum.com, indianrealtynews.com, cnn-ibn, rajdeep sardesai, sagarika ghose, vinod dua, arnab goswami, barkha dutt, raghav behl, prannoy roy, vikram chandra, ravi sinha, track2media. track2realty, DDA, delhi real estate news, new delhi, K.P. Singh, Rajiv Singh, Sharad Pawar, Jairam Ramesh, CBI, DB Realty, LavasaFitch Ratings says in a new report that the Rating Outlook for the Indian real estate sector continues to be Negative for H212, due to persistent sluggish demand, high construction costs and liquidity pressures.

Given Reserve Bank of India’s caution on interest rate cuts, high equated monthly instalments (EMIs) will continue to be a deterrent for potential home buyers. This, together with high property prices and elevated inflation will keep demand sluggish.

However, y-o-y growth of home loans by banks – which had been slowing for the 12 months to April 2012 – picked up markedly in May and June 2012, and if continued may help spur the sector.

Slowdown in the economy and subdued job growth in the IT sector, which was at its lowest quarterly level in Q212, will hold back demand for commercial and retail properties.

Real estate companies will continue to face margin compression from high construction costs for both building materials and labour. From December 2011 to April 2012 the price of steel increased 13% and that of cement by 12%. Notwithstanding the trend of deleveraging since Q311, slowing demand, high costs and thus declining profits will keep leverage high for most real estate companies.

Reliance of real estate companies on operating cash flow will assume significance in the near term as available funding options remain limited. Growth of bank lending to the commercial real estate sector was low at 1.5% y-o-y in June 2012. Except for some pick-up in private equity, other funding options are restricted. As a result, companies that derive significant revenue from lease rentals will have a more stable credit profile compared with their counterparts whose business model is based on outright sale.

SME has its own brand value to attract realtors

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By: Manu Sharma 

3rd of the series

Track2Realty Exclusive

- india realty news, india real estate news, real estate news india, realty news india, india property news, property news india, india news, property news, real estate news, India Property, Delhi NCR real estate, Mumbai Real Estate, Bangalore Real Estate, Pune Real Estate news,Track2Media, Track2Realty, ravi sinha In commercial real estate there is a general marketing strategy to showcase brands that book the space. Will SMEs cluster give the developer that cutting edge? Realtors believe most Indian mid-sized companies have already emerged as recognizable brands. Companies such as Gati, Angel Broking, Samsonite, Tarz Lifestyle, Donear and other such companies are well-known; hence it is the facilities that the developer offers take precedence. They are looking for the best value for money; hence there is a pressure on keeping the prices competitive and facilities as attractive as possible.

The question is whether focus on SMEs reflects a negative outlook on the commercial real estate where market has got saturated for the developers. Mayur Shah, Chief-Sales and Marketing, Ackruti City outrightly rejects this theory. According to him the focus is now on every segment of the market, which is holistic and allows a developer to offer a choice of options. Market was never saturated. Absorption took a backseat when the economy was hit and expansion plans were put on hold. In fact in some locations commercial realty has done better than the residential markets. People have realized that to keep the economy growing and their own businesses flourishing, they have to expand and the recent reports on absorption is a reflection of this realization.

“Most of the banking and finance companies started small and have grown only in the last six to seven years, which is a revelation in itself. Some well-known IT companies have grown in size only recently. India has more than 5000 mid- sized companies and at least more than half started their businesses in the metro cities. So SMEs being only in tier II and tier III is a myth. The idea is to offer office spaces at the right locations and offer the right mix of floor spaces and amenities,” says Shah.

Jairam Ramesh refutes CREDAI charge of NREGA leading to labour shortage

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india realty news, india real estate news, real estate news india, realty news india, india property news, property news india, india news, property news, real estate news, India Property, NREGA, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Urban Development Ministry, Jairam RameshUnion Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh today refuted the charge that National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) had caused labour shortage in sectors like agriculture and construction. Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI) had recently stated that real estate projects were experiencing time and cost overruns due to shortage of labour due to schemes like NREGA. Besides, there were also reports stating that it was getting difficult to hire labour for agriculture.

Ramesh said that there was a deliberate attempt to spread propaganda discrediting NREGA.

“The scheme has increased agricultural wages, reduced distressed migration in some parts of the country and created community assets particularly water conservation structures. Of course, there is room for improvement,” the Minister said. Under NREGA, every adult member of a rural family is paid on an average Rs120 per day for 100 days in a year.

“Many people are uncomfortable with increasing agricultural wages. What can you do? If you want to reduce poverty in the country, you will have to pay more. Only then, people will live comfortably,” Ramesh told reporters on the sidelines of an international conference.

He also ridiculed the reports that crop holiday announced in East Godavari district was due to NREGA and said the official reports suggested other reasons.

“Our report is entirely contrary. I had asked for a study to be made. A study has been made. NREGA has nothing to do with crop holiday. The crop holiday is because of various reasons like procurement price, fertiliser price, distribution of seed, irrigation issue, Ramesh explained.

Meanwhile responding to a query, Rural Development Minister said the Comptroller and Auditor general would take up performance audit of NREGA in 12 states soon.

Minister blames real estate, industry for degrading wetlands

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Biodiversity news, wetlands, Jairam Ramesh, Environment news, Delhi NCR real estate, Bangalore Real Estate, Track2Media, Track2Realty, ravi sinha, india realty news, india real estate news, real estate news india, realty news india, india property news, property news india, india news, property news, real estate news, Mumbai Real Estate, India PropertyWetlands are under severe threat from the real estate lobby and industry as they are easy to lease out, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

Ramesh was at the Space Application Centre (SAC) at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) campus in Ahmedabad to deliver an address on ‘National Wetland Inventory and Assessment Project’ (NWIA).

“Wetlands have ecological and social value. But a large area of wetlands in India is under threat from real estate lobby and industries such as highways, cement plants and power plants. Now, with a database on the inventory of wetlands being available with the help from the SAC, the Centre can take action on its own to designate important wetlands in the country based on the satellite images,” said Ramesh.

Ramesh’s comments on wetlands come at a time when the Gujarat-based industrial group Nirma had to stop the construction of its proposed cement plant near Bhavnagar in Gujarat as per the Supreme Court (SC) directives.

An expert panel under the MoEF had moved the SC while maintaining that the plant was located on the wetland and environmentally sensitive area and hence required to be shifted from there.

The NWIA project findings noted that the total wetlands area in the country is estimated at 15.26 million hectares, 4.63 per cent of the total geographic area of the country. Of this, Gujarat holds the largest area under wetland with over 3.47 million hectares of area, about 18 per cent of the state’s total geographic area. Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra are some of the other states having more than one million hectares of area under wetlands.

Ramesh also claimed that his views on the debate over the melting Himalayan glaciers were vindicated when a study on snow and glaciers of Himalayas conducted by the SAC found the average pace of retreat of the glaciers for the past 15 years at 3.75 per cent. The study found 75 per cent of the Himalayan glaciers retreating, eight per cent advancing and 17 per cent stable.

“This is the first time that a large number of glaciers have been studied by any agency in the world. And it reveals the same what I was criticised for in 2009,” Ramesh said adding that at such linear rate, it would take about 400 years to completely melt Himalayan glaciers. This comes in stark contrast of the claims made in the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) headed by Dr Rajendra Pachauri stating that that Himalayan glacier might vanish by 2035. However, after strong opposition, they had to withdraw the report.

Commenting on the Nuclear Power Project being planned at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar, Ramesh informed that the state-owned nuclear power producer, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NCPIL) had undergone a site selection process, as a part of which they had selected Mithi Virdi as a site for the proposed Nuclear Power plant. “Had that been a forest land or a wetland, MoEF could have intervened. Even if it is an irrigated fertile land, this is the land which the state government had offered for the power plant,” said Ramesh.