The real estate developers had a sigh of relief when the Government of India heeded to their demands for declaring Coronavirus hit construction under Force Majeure. The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman assured the sector to issue an advisory to States and Union Territories and their regulatory authorities to extend the registration and completion date Suo-Moto by six months for all registered projects expiring on or after March 25, 2020 without individual applications.
The affordable housing segment, which gained significant traction over the last few years, may also take a hit by COVID-19. The outbreak will significantly affect affordable housing’s target audience. With limited income and unemployment fears, buyers of affordable housing may defer purchase decisions, leading to an estimated 1-2% rise in unsold stock within this segment in 2020.
It is in this backdrop that in a typical “Ravi Sinha Uncensored” tone I told a PR girl who called me for one such Press Release by one of the largest developers of Mumbai, “Listen! As a matter of principle I am not carrying any story on food distribution to construction workers. But wait! Please give my feedback to your client, “He or any other builder is not doing any charity; not worth beating its own trumpet. This is a national calamity and you are morally bound to do so. Such Press Releases only make you look really petty. You can weave this info into some other story once the dust settles and everything is normal. But glorifying humanitarian gesture at this point of time is at best Corona Tourism for Publicity which is highly deplorable.”
The habitual project delaying and absurd justifications of the builders in calling everything as Force Majeure has got another alibi – Corona. It has sparked a fresh debate within the built environment of the Indian real estate as to whether the Corona pandemic could be treated as Force Majeure in the sector.