Tag Archives: Track2Infra India real estate news

Beyond land use & resource efficiency lies Smart City-I

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RICS, Smart City, Kamal Nath, Urban Development Minister, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2Realty, Track2Infra India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property ManagementTrack2Realty Exclusive: If Planning, Finance, Technology and Skills are the four key components of smart urban living, India lacks substantially on all the given parameters. While the world is increasingly moving ahead with real estate products adding smart quotient, in India the debate still hovers around unlocking land value & monetizing it after master plan of respective cities failed to adopt the successful global urban experiences. Track2Realty debates whether smart city ingredients should be optional reforms of real estate or made a mandatory provision.

When the European leaders met in September 2012 at Smart Cities Conference in Amsterdam to discuss how to create intelligent cities in an increasingly urbanized world, the focus was on developing low-carbon transport solutions, cutting-edge water/waste networks and renewable energy sources a priority as the continent looks to make its cities more pleasant places to live and more competitive destinations to invest.

Back in India, however, the urban planners seem to be groping at the entry level bottlenecks in that direction. The measures to unlock land value and monetizing it has just started, and that too as an option to meet fiscal challenges.

For long urbanization in this part of the world has been seen as a problem than a viable solution and hence improving land-use, easing congestion, maximising resource efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of our urban spaces been neglected till late.

Moreover, India’s Shanghai dreams revolved around Mumbai and other metropolitan cities, where lack of urban planning and infrastructural bottlenecks left the dream of intelligent cities just that—a dream.

The private developers no doubt have raised the bar in terms of India’s urban living, their world view nevertheless have been confined to mere green buildings and energy efficient buildings while rapid developments in countries like China and South Korea have revolutionized the urban landscape with the introduction of what modern town planners call ‘Smart City’ concepts. And they are not to be blamed for what is predominantly the prerogative of the government in terms of preparing the master plans.

Now that the master plans are ready for seven brand new cities spanning six states through Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), the moot point is whether all the stake holders of India’s urbanisation, realty developers in particular, are ready to take the smart city concept to its next level.

…..to be continued

Green buildings are not necessarily expensive: Jennifer Layke

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Jennifer Layke, Johnson Controls, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2Realty, Track2Infra India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property ManagementTrack2Realty: When you look at the developing market, where the cost of construction is a huge issue and most of the realtors are mid sized developers. What are the suggestions you would like to give them so that they can adopt more and more energy efficient buildings?

Jennifer Layke: I think that one of the things that we have found has actually begun to contradict that there are more expensive buildings as a result of pursuing highly efficient or green buildings. What we actually found is that through integrated design, we can often bring cost out of the building. One of the examples that we speak of is the Empire Estate Building where we were originally asked to come in because the owner believed he wanted to install a new chiller plant. That was going to be a very expensive proposition. But we were able to design out the need for that chiller, thereby creating savings that were invested in energy efficiency measures that paid back. So, I am not sure that I agree with the premise that today green buildings cost more.

Track2Realty: Your study has been only on commercial buildings or across the asset class?

Jennifer Layke: We have about 60% from commercial, about 23% from industrial and 13% from institutional.

Track2Realty: Which are the other markets where you conducted this survey?

Jennifer Layke: Europe, North America, India and China are my four major markets and I do a little bit to keep track of what is going on in Singapore and Australia.

Track2Realty: So, you feel India is a very interesting market as far as adopting some of the best practices are concerned?

Jennifer Layke: I do. I think the indication of an interest and the opportunities that are presented and the kind of costing and the policy initiatives that are underway, means that there is tremendous interest in moving forward with energy efficiency and I think the challenge is overcoming those barriers.

Track2Realty: Finally, I would like to ask if you have any specific suggestion for the Indian real estate?

Jennifer Layke: I think there are a couple of things, but first of all, I do think that targeting policies and incentives to overcome the barriers that came out in this year’s survey is a very good opportunity. So if I were to look at it as a person trying to build the market for energy efficiency, I would look to the opportunity to address those five barriers. And then I think the other thing that was clear from this survey was that many times the technology follows incentives and the countries that had incentives in place for smart buildings, more respondents were pursuing smart buildings; countries that had incentives in place for renewable, more were pursuing renewable.

In Germany, we saw there were a larger number of people who were pursuing building envelope improvement, largely because there is a dialogue about the solution set. And that I think can be true for India as well.

Sharad Pawar family accused of real estate scam

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Sharad Pawar, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2Realty, Track2Infra India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property ManagementTrack2Realty: Former police officer turned activist Y P Singh has alleged that Union Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party Chief  Sharad Pawar was centre of real estate scam.  At the same time he criticised Arvind Kejriwal for concealing information about a massive scam in Maharashtra because he was selective about which politicians he targets. He also attacked Kejriwal for his expose against BJP Nitin Gadkari while sparing Pawar.

At the press conference, Singh alleged that Pawar’s nephew and former state Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar granted 341 acres to Lake City Corp on 30 years lease at just Rs 23,000 per month. In Mumbai, the smallest one bedroom house is not available for that price. About 20.81% shares belonged to Pawar’s MP daughter Supriya Sule and her husband Sadanand Sule.

Supriya Sule had at least 10.4% share in Lake City Corp. Ajit Pawar gave the land to this company virtually free. In 2006, Sule and her husband sold shareholding – but at what cost?

In June 2008, Axis Bank valued the shares at Rs 10,000 crore. When Supriya Sule sold the shares the company should have been valued at least at Rs 5000 crore. But Supriya Sule declared her assets to be worth Rs 15 crore.

According to that she sold her Lavasa shares for Rs 5 crore. But according to the Axis Bank valuation, she would have got Rs 500 crore at least. The whistle blower revenue officer, Ramesh Kumar, was victimised for exposing the irregularities in this scam.

Singh went on to add Sharad Pawar is a Union Agriculture Minister. “He has nothing to do with land-related matters in Maharashtra. But he interfered in that,” he claimed.

In 2006, Lavasa sought some concessions and that was rejected. Global Floor Space Index (FSI) including lakes, mountains was taken into account so that the height of the building could be raised.

Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit, who was then the irrigation minister, met the then CM and senior IAS officers in a guest house in Lavasa called Ekant and decided to give Lavasa a global floating floor space index (FSI).  He also released the minutes of that meeting.

He turned his tirade against Kejriwal and said whether he knew these details.  “I think he did. The main point quid-pro-quo was not highlighted. We don’t know whether there was money laundering. But in 20 April, 2009, we had made a report – and Kejriwal was a part of that team. I was hoping we will expose that scam. But when I saw the small matter of Nitin Gadkari, and that too on a wrong legal point, it is for you to compare what he exposed and what I have presented today,” Singh said.

How did Sharad Pawar hold a meeting with Maharashtra officials in the Lavasa guest house? He was Union Agriculture Minister; what jurisdiction did he have? How was a government meeting held in a private guest house? There are many such questions; there needs to be an FIR, that should be followed by an investigation and a court case. He said he would ensure an FIR was filed under the jurisdiction of Anti-Corruption Bureau Maharashtra.

Moreover, Singh said he was not like Kejriwal who would be silent after allegations. “I had sent them a legal notice. I will pursue the corruption related case now. I will not blame Kerjriwal, but the case against Gadkari that he has sensationalised, I feel, he would have seen the political equation in Delhi. I am a lawyer; Kejriwal is my client. A lawyer doesn’t go to a client, so I cannot go to him,” he noted. According to Singh, he had given Kejriwal details on Lavasan but wondered why he had a soft corner for Sharad Pawar.

He said Sharad Pawar is such a big political figure and asked reporters to scrutinise the evidence and decide whether Pawar has the right to continue as a union minister after that.

When asked about Singh’s allegations, Sharad Pawar rejected them and said: “Maharashtra government brought in hill station policy. Lavasa was built as per the hill station policy. There are no violations in Lavasa. Ajit Gulabchand has done pioneering work in building Lavasa hill station. I will not speak more as matter is under sub-judicious, there is no wrong doing there and work good work is going on under Maharashtra Hill policy. “

Energy management ranked higher in Indian real estate: Jennifer Layke

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Jennifer Layke, Johnson Controls, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2Realty, Track2Infra India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property ManagementTrack2Realty: Jennifer Layke is the Director of Johnson Controls’ Institute for Building Efficiency, a global initiative to provide information and analysis of technologies, policies, and practices in high performance buildings and smart energy systems from a practitioner’s perspective. She leads the Institute’s research agenda and collaborations with a network of global experts on topical areas including commercial building efficiency, smart buildings & the smart grid, green building design, and renewable energy technologies.

She has been recently in India to release the third annual global Energy Efficiency Survey, which shows strong interest in energy management among India’s building owners. In an exclusive interview with Track2Realty, she says willingness of real estate to adopt best practices in Green Building and Energy Efficient Building makes her optimistic in India. Excerpts:

Track2RealtyWhat are the key findings of your study in India?

Jennifer Layke: In India, there were a couple of things. First of all, energy management is ranked higher than in any other country. There is also an expectation of price increase for this, more significant price increases than we saw anywhere else in the world, about 18% in 2011. The rest of the world was at a global average of 11%. So there are some significant differences in terms of what is driving the market.

The second thing we found this year is that Indian respondents indicated energy efficiency and energy security is their number two driver. North America ranked it much lower as to why an organization would pursue energy efficiency. So there is a concern and we did not ask whether this was for the security of supply, reliability, power quality. We did not ask those kind of questions but we did ask if that was their driver for pursuing energy efficiency and indeed it was.

Track2RealtyAny other significant trend that you notice in India?

Jennifer LaykeThe other thing I would say is a global trend is the green buildings. We see in every major market that green buildings are increasingly sought after. Even if the organizations are not pursuing certification, they are incorporating green elements into their buildings. In India, we found that 53% of respondents said that they were planning to pursue green building certification in either the existing or new buildings in the next 12 months.

……to be continued

Unitech settles with Telenor for Rs 25 crore

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Unitech, Telenor, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2Realty, Track2Infra India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management Track2Realty-Agencies: Nearly five years after venturing into telecom and investing over Rs 600 crore, Unitech decided to part ways with Telenor, its Norwegian partner in the mobile venture, paying a nominal Rs 25 crore to settle its messy dispute.

According to reports Unitech decided to settle the dispute after Telenor slapped a Rs 6,500 crore indemnity claim. Both companies wanted to settle the issue as a protracted legal battle was not helping either’s cause.

“This was a big overhang for Unitech and would have stretched its financial capacity,” said a source familiar with the developments. Both companies, however, declined to comment on the settlement amount, citing a confidentiality clause.

The move will benefit both players as Telenor, which is in talks with three-four potential partners, can go ahead with bidding for 2G spectrum next month, leaving behind the controversy. Similarly, Unitech will now focus on real estate, its main business, after exiting several peripheral areas as part of its strategy to consolidate its operations after the 2008 financial crisis.

Telenor’s acquisition of stake in Unitech Wireless, which controversially won telecom licences during former Telecom Minister A Raja’s term in 2008, has attracted severe scrutiny with investigators alleging that the Norwegian company paid a hefty premium for buying into a company that had nothing but spectrum as its asset. Telenor had paid over Rs 6,000 crore to get a controlling 67% stake in the joint venture which operates under the Uninor brand.

“Unitech has agreed to dispose of its shareholding in Uninor for a nominal amount and Unitech shall continue to retain its economic rights associated with its current shareholding in Unitech Wireless. With immediate effect, Unitech nominees will withdraw from the Uninor board and all special shareholder rights shall stand suspended. Subsequent to a successful business transfer and spectrum auction, all disputes and claims between the parties shall stand withdrawn/concluded,” the real estate player said in a statement.

Uninor currently has 45 million customers and Telenor, if successful in the spectrum bid, will benefit from a ready customer base. Although the Norwegian company is hunting for a partner, companies have been allowed to bid even without a local ally. They will, however, have to rope in a partner if they manage to get spectrum during the auctions that begin next month.

Real estate major contributor of Larsen and Toubro’s Q2 orders of Rs 15,800 cr

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L&T, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2Realty, Track2Infra India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property ManagementTrack2Realty-Agencies: Larsen & Toubro booked fresh orders worth Rs 15,800 crore in the second quarter of the current year, lower than the Rs 19,600 crore it booked in the previous quarter.

Equity analysts at Kotak Institutional Equities Research have taken note of an interesting feature of Q2 order bookings — 44 per cent of them (Rs 6,900 crore) are from urban real estate, mostly ‘residential’.

Of the Rs 15,800 crore, Rs 2,200 crore has come from ‘water’ and Rs 1,600 crore from power transmission and distribution.

L&T had previously said its current year order bookings would be between Rs 80,000 crore and Rs 85,000 crore.

“We believe that L&T enjoys a sweet spot in urban real estate with developers having an opportunity to boost project credentials by using L&T as construction contractor. However, we believe that urban real estate has its own risks related to clearances, completion timelines and finances of developers,” says Kotak.

Analysts have also noted that 17 per cent of the Rs 1,53,100-crore order backlog at the end of the first quarter are in-house orders and “difficult to replace”. They see a slowdown of business that give rise to in-house orders, such as road and metro projects. As such, L&T would have to replace these orders with non in-house orders which may be difficult in a “slow capex environment”.

L&T’s turnover in 2011-12 was Rs 53,171 crore. It has a vision to reach Rs 100,000 crore by 2016. The company’s five-year corporate plan, Lakshya 2016, envisions that overseas orders will make up a fourth of the turnover by 2016 — from 15 per cent now. However, international orders have accounted for only around 10 per cent of the fresh order inflows.

Kamal Nath promises collaboration with UK to improve urban infrastructure

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RICS, Smart City, Kamal Nath, Urban Development Minister, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2Realty, Track2Infra India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property ManagementTrack2Realty: Union Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath has promised to enhance collaboration with UK to improve overall urban infrastructure. He was speaking on Monday, Oct 8, at RICS international conference-Cities 2030: Are we on track?

Alderman David Wootton, The Righteous Lord Mayor of City of London affirmed UK’s support in providing access to finance and liquidity and also the requisite skills and specialism along the supply chain. RICS white paper titled SMART CITIES was also released at the event.

RICS, with support from the Ministry of Urban Development, and The Euro India Centre, organized this international conference on ‘Cities 2030: Are we on track?’. Vision for cities is a global policy and a research programme that aims at examining key thinking on the delivery of the sustainable cities of 2030 and beyond.

Additionally, the conference also delved deeper into 4 key pillars of infrastructure development– Planning, Finance, Technology and Skills. The focus of the one-day conference was on whether India is on track to meet all the necessary and desired outcomes to shape India’s urban future.

Kamal Nath and Alderman David Wootton were the Chief Guest and Guest of Honour respectively. The conference brought together recognized thought leaders and key decision makers from India and internationally, to help identify and take stock of tools and measures that will help integrate planning organisations and processes, build capacity in infrastructure, financially empower the public sector and promote innovation in urban management.

The RICS white paper was released by Paul Doherty, President and CEO, the digit group Inc. The paper outlines the challenges, solutions, results and next steps for any city to become a smart city by leveraging the digital DNA of the built environment.

The paper draws some interesting analogies of a city with a human body with its cardiovascular system (infrastructure), respiratory and digestive systems (energy, waste) and even a primitive nervous system (telecommunications). It urges city makers to think of their cities as a network, with each building acting as a server.

A major issue for a city’s IT department is how to manage large quantities of data generated by the city departments and wider ecosystem.  Cities that solve this issue will be on the correct path to evolving into Smart Cities.  No matter which of the 10 Smart City elements a city decides to focus on, data generation, compilation and interpretation will be key drivers to all policies, programs, projects and measures.

Built Environment data is already captured by city’s in various formats and processes; Building Departments, Engineering Departments, Land Departments, Planning Departments, Tax Departments, Postal Services, they all collect and manage vast amounts of data that when viewed as a whole, create the virtual representation of your physical city.   The accuracy, authentication and integration of this city data is the key to a proactive approach to entering a path to becoming a Smart City.

Taking note of the report and acknowledging the need to create a smart city roadmap for India, Alderman David Wootton said, “The UK and the City of London can do much to support India’s infrastructure development needs – both in providing access to finance and liquidity and also the requisite skills and specialism along the supply chain – in particular the vital legal resources to tailor contracts and agreements to ensure the right project with the right outcomes. It is essential that the legal and financial framework is attractive to investors who will need to invest in the long term, and we are the collectors and disseminators of best practice, ensuring projects are delivered on time, to cost and to world class standards.”

Acknowledging Alderman David Wootton’s message, Kamal Nath said, “We in India have the most restrictive FAR. Even by Asian standards, it’s exceptionally low. This needs to be revised looking at the infrastructure and the location where it can be increased. One of the possibilities being discussed is transit oriented development where we can have mixed use and higher and more intensive development.”

In this context Kamal Nath further highlighted, “In India we have a need to learn from everywhere particularly from the UK. India can benefit from the British experience. We have recently signed an MoU with the UK on urban regeneration and development and its my firm belief that such a partnership would provide an enabling platform and deepen the engagement in the areas of sustainable master-planning, transport planning, land economics, heritage management, regeneration capacity building, governance, PPP arrangements. This is very important because some of the huge investment of US$ 1 trillion that we require has to come from the private sector. One of the big things in managing urbanization is going to be capacity building. Besides capacity building, the three other important areas will be planning, funding and urban governance. RICS has a unique contribution to make to the sustainable evolution of cities in India as it can draw upon the substantial shared knowledge and expertise that exists all across the world. My ministry would be happy to encourage and support such endeavors of RICS.”

Speaking at the Cities 2030 conference, Sachin Sandhir, Managing Director, RICS South Asia said, “I thank Hon’ble Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath, Alderman David Wootton, The Rt. Lord Mayor of City of London and Dr. (Mrs) Isher Judge Ahluwalia for highlighting the challenges of explosive urban growth that has created the reality that Indian cities must change their consumption and development patterns in favor of smarter and more sustainable habits.”

He further added, “In the context of our current levels of urbanization, which are likely to increase manifold in the years to come, it is inevitable that India creates infrastructure and urban development of global standards. One key challenge that India is likely to face, while moving forward in the direction of unprecedented growth, is the absence of skilled and trained professionals that will be needed to deliver the required real estate and construction. RICS intends to bridge this gap by making available to the industry qualified professionals and experts who provide professional advice on matters as wide-ranging as sustainable urban development; affordable housing; capital markets; urban and rural infrastructure; project management and business valuation.”

The conference was attended by eminent government officials, industry experts, and policymakers