• Covid-19 prompts govt. to shift gears on flagship ‘Housing for All by 2022’ and usher in affordable rental housing complexes (ARHCs)
• Absence of affordable rental housing in top cities caused a mass exodus of migrants during lockdown; ARHCs aims to make cities future-ready during such exigencies
• Monthly rentals for homes under ARHCs likely to be fixed between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,000
• PMAY (U) makes swift progress in 5 years since implementation; over 105.3 lakh homes already sanctioned till date; Max. homes (20.16 lakh) sanctioned in Andhra Pradesh, followed by 15.95 lakh in Uttar Pradesh & 12.34 lakh in Maharashtra
• 54,153 real estate projects & 41,583 agents registered under RERA so far
As India completes 73 years of independence, a new real(i)ty has dawned on India’s major cities. Covid-19 has highlighted the urgent need for affordable housing — rental or buy — across the country’s cities where most migrant workers come to seek a living.
The incumbent government’s ‘Housing for All by 2022’ initiative is inching closer to reality. RERA too has made considerable progress. However, the coronavirus pandemic savagely underscored the absence of affordable rental housing in major cities, resulting in a mass exodus of migrants with no income during the lockdown. The government shifted gears on its flagship scheme and included affordable rental housing in it.
A home for every migrant?
Getting the Cabinet’s nod recently, Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) under PMAY (U) is clearly an attempt to bridge the shortfall of affordable homes across Indian cities. A unique initiative, this scheme aims to give the urban poor access to proper affordable rental housing close to their workplaces and reduce dependence on slums, informal settlements and remote peri-urban areas.
All states will be asked to develop such products and encourage private partnerships. The move will not just regularise the rental housing market across the country but also add another asset class for developers to consider.
The ARHC scheme is to be implemented via two models:
• By utilising existing Government-funded vacant homes by converting them into ARHCs under PublicPrivate Partnership.
• Construction, operation and maintenance of ARHCs by private/ public entities on their own vacant land.
To begin with, the government plans to use about one lakh unused housing units built under the JNNURM and the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) – the previous government’s u r b a n u p g r a d e a n d housing programmes – to provide rental housing. The monthly rentals for homes under ARHCs are likely to be fixed between INR 1,000 to INR 3,000.
To attract private participation, the government has also rolled out special incentives such as use permission, 50% additional FAR/FSI, concessional loans at priority sector lending rates and tax reliefs at par with affordable housing to develop ARHCs on their own available vacant land for 25 years.
However, low yields may be a major deterrent for private participation. While funding for such projects would be at concessional rates, many developers who have bought land at steep prices in the cities earlier on may find the proposition unattractive. Will the government unleash further incentives?
Draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019: Still in limbo
To replace India’s archaic 70-years-old rental laws, the government initiated the Draft Model Tenancy Act 2019 last year. The housing and urban affairs ministry is now looking to approach the Cabinet for its approval.
The Model Tenancy Act aims to bridge the trust deficit between tenants and landlords by clearly delineating the obligations of tenants and landlords. To ensure speedy redressal of disputes, it also proposes to establish Rent Court and Rent Tribunal that will hear appeals for matters connected to rental housing. This Act can fuel the rental housing supply pipeline by attracting more investors, and more rental housing stock will help students, working professionals and migrant populations to find urban accommodation.
PMAY(U): Steady progress
Five years after the implementation of this ambitious scheme, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) has made steady progress across states. As on date, a total of 1.06 Crore homes have already been sanctioned in the country, of which 33% or approx. 35.18 lakh homes are completed while another 66.23 lakh units have been grounded for construction.
A sharp 180% rise of project completions was seen between December 2018 and early August 2020 – from 12.58 lakh homes completed back in December 2018 to over 35.18 lakh homes as of August 2020.
Of the total homes sanctioned, Andhra Pradesh has the highest number (20.16 lakh homes), followed by Uttar Pradesh with over 15.95 lakh homes and Maharashtra with over 12.34 lakh homes.
In terms of completion, out of the total 35.18 lakh houses completed, Uttar Pradesh is top on the list with more than 5.34 lakh homes already completed, followed by Gujarat with 4.22 lakh homes and Maharashtra with 3.44 lakh homes.
RERA: gaining traction
In more than three years since its implementation, RERA is shaping up into the consumer-empowering force it was envisioned to be. As of July 31, 2020, more than 54,153 real estate projects and 41,583 real estate agents have been registered under RERA across the country. 50,322 complaints have been disposed of by the authorities across various states/UTs, according to data by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Out of this, nearly 60% of cases were resolved in the last year alone.
According to the latest readings on the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoUHA) website:
• 33 states/UTs have notified rules under RERA; One North Eastern State (Nagaland) is under process to notify the rules. Rules in UTs of Ladakh will be notified soon. West Bengal has enacted its own legislation, which has been challenged before Supreme Court and MoHUA has filed its affidavit to annul it.
• 30 states/UTs have set up the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Regular – 25, Interim – 05). Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya and Sikkim have notified the rules but yet to establish Authority.
• 24 states/UTs have set up Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (Regular -16, Interim – 08). (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim are under process to establish).
• Regulatory authorities of 26 States/UTs have operationalized their websites under the provisions of RERA. (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Puducherry are under process to operationalize).
Meanwhile, the RBI has taken steps that have, to some extent, eased the woes of the sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic. From repo rate cuts to loan moratoriums, and from an infusion of liquidity for NBFCs and HFCs to a one-year extension of the CLSS scheme up to March 2021, there has been considerable action.
Most recently, the RBI opened up the window for restructuring loans to companies, individuals and MSME under mandated safeguards. This has given also given something of a breather to the liquiditystrapped industry.
From the dawn of independence to today, the Indian real estate sector has come a long way. Yet, the goal of a roof over every Indian’s head has never been a more urgent compulsion. As we usher in our 74th year of independence, there is still a long way to go. And yet, despite the various upheavals to date, the foundation upon which to build a stronger and more inclusive industry has never been stronger.
Anuj Puri is Chairman, ANAROCK.
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Centre increases dearness allowance for govt workers by 4%
The Centre on Wednesday increased the dearness allowance for retirees and government workers by four percent. Anurag Thakur , an union minister, revealed that as a result, the dearness allowance is now up to 38 percent.
The revised dearness allowance will be given to government employees and pensioners in arrears starting on July 1. The Centre typically announces the DA hikes in March and September before implementing them on January 1 and July 1. Dearness allowance is essentially the portion of central government employees’ monthly salaries that is paid to offset the rise in living expenses brought on by compensation.
The dearness allowance had been raised to 34 percent by the Center in March of this year. The new DA went into effect on January 1 of this year. The Odisha government announced a 3 percent increase in daily allowance (DA) for its employees and pensioners on September 19.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik approved the proposal for increasing DA from 31 per cent to 34 per cent, effective from January 1, 2022. Four lakh employees and 3.5 lakh pensioners will be benefitted, according to an official release.
On PFI ban, Lalu Yadav says ‘RSS should be banned as well’
The national president of the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) and a former chief minister of Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, responded to the central government’s move to outlaw the Popular Front of India (PFI) by saying that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) should also be banned.
“PFI is being investigated. All organisations like PFI, including RSS, should be banned and an investigation should be done,” said Prasad after filing his nomination papers for the post of national president.
Prasad claimed that Muslim organisations were being targeted by the government.
First of all, ban the RSS. It is a worse organisation than that. If you get anything, then take action,” he said.
He attacked the Modi government, saying the situation in the country has become worse due to unemployment and inflation.
“Efforts are being made to spread bigotry. Such a government has to be overthrown,” he said.
The JD (U), a partner of the RJD alliance, also questioned the PFI ban.
Party leader Ghulam Rasool Balyawi said, “Today in the country, only one party is giving the certificate of loyalty and branding people as traitors.”
“Does anybody know the source of funding for RSS?” he asked.
Media and Entertainment sector should grow to more than 100 billion dollars by year 2030: Apurva Chandra
The Union Secretary for Information and Broadcasting Apurva Chandra has exhorted the media and entertainment industry to set a target of growing the industry to more than 100 billion dollars by the year 2030. “India will be a 10 trillion dollar economy in the next 10 years, we should target that the media and entertainment sector should grow to more than 100 billion dollars by 2030. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will do whatever it takes to support the M&E sector and help it grow.” The Secretary was addressing the inaugural session of FICCI Frames Fast Track 2022 in Mumbai today, September 27, 2022.
The Secretary announced that Invest India is going to be leveraged in order to bring in higher foreign investment into India in the film sector. “The Ministry has merged various film units under one; NFDC based in Mumbai is going to be the hub of the cinematic arm of the government. With this, we want to revamp the Film Facilitation Office. We are going to hand this over to Invest India, the main investment arm created by the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to attract industry to India. More than 100 billion dollars of FDI is coming to India this year. We want to leverage Invest India to bring in foreign investment, we will reach out to foreign filmmakers to come to India.”
The Secretary informed that the government will work with states to facilitate and promote film shooting in India. “Recently at Cannes Film Fesival, we announced Incentive Scheme for Audio-Visual Co-production and Incentive Scheme for Shooting of Foreign Films in India. With incentives given by states too, it becomes a viable and attractive package for filmmakers.”
The Secretary announced that the Government of India will work with the states and formulate a Model Theatre Policy. “Over the past 5-6 years, the number of theatres has been on a decline. We need to reverse this trend. We will assign the Film Facilitation Office to work with Invest India to come up with a single-window portal for opening theatres, so that more and more theatres can come up and the public gets more avenues to watch the magic of films in theatres. We will also work with the states to create a Model Theatre Policy, so that the states can adopt and work on the same.”
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Conference on eco-alternatives to banned single use plastics and air quality management
A Conference of startups and innovators working on eco-alternatives to banned single use plastics and air quality management was inaugurated on 27th September 2022 at Chennai Trade Centre, Chennai, by Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Consumer Affairs, Government of India in the august presence of Siva V Meyyanathan, Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Youth Welfare and Sports Development, Government of Tamil Nadu. The Startup Conference has been jointly organized by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, and Government of Tamil Nadu.
Startups and innovators have been involved in developing solutions for many pressing environmental challenges including in the development of eco-alternatives to banned single use plastics and air quality management.
Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Consumer Affairs highlighted that availability of alternatives to banned single use plastic items is extremely important. The Startups and innovators have taken up this challenge and developed eco-alternatives. One Startup has made packaging material from rice stubble. The innovation not only addressed plastic pollution but will also help in reducing the pollution caused by burning of rice stubble. Another startup has developed flexible packaging material from sea weeds. He highlighted that the startups and innovators are not only providing solutions to environmental problems but also assisting in economic development of the country. The Government of India is giving focus on supporting innovators and startups through various schemes of the Government such as Startup India Mission.
Many startups and innovators from across the country working in the area alternatives to banned single use plastic items and air quality management are participating in the Startup Conference. Representatives from concerned central Ministries involved in supporting innovation, startups, and MSMEs and banks who are key in mobilizing finances for startups and manufacturers are participating in the Expo. Representatives from State Governments, State Pollution Control Boards are participating in the Startup Conference.
The Conference of Startups will provide a platform for engagement and exchange views amongst innovators and institutions, Government Departments supporting startup ecosystems in the country and banks, on steps taken for scaling up innovations and supporting startups.
The Conference will have experience sharing sessions of startups working in the field of alternatives to banned single use plastics and startups working in the area of air quality management.
A separate session on role of financial institutions in scaling up startups has also been organized representatives of Startup India Mission, banks and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium enterprises has also been organized.
The Minister mentioned that the strategy adopted by the Government to tackle unmanaged and littered plastic waste has two pillars to ban single use plastic items which have high littering potential and low utility, and implementation of extended producer responsibility on plastic packaging. Promotion of innovation and startups for elimination of single use plastics will help us address the problem of littered and unmanaged plastic waste in the country.
497 Railway stations made Divyangjan friendly by providing either lifts or escalators
s a part of ‘Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan’, to provide ease of movement for Divyangjans, aged and children on railway platforms, Indian Railways is installing lifts and escalators at railway stations across the country. So far, there are 497 stations where either lifts or escalators have been provided.
Escalators:- As per policy, normally Railways are providing escalators at State Capitals, Cities having population more than 10 Lakh or stations having footfall more than 25000 per day.
So far, 1090 Escalators at 339 stations have been provided upto Aug’2022. Yearwise position of provision of Escalators is as under:-
Lifts:- As per policy, GM/Zonal Railways are empowered to select stations/platforms for provision of Lift considering footfall, constraints of space etc.
So far, 981 Lifts at 400 stations have been provided upto Aug.’2022. Yearwise position of provision of Lifts is as under:-Indian Railways has been consistently trying to improve passenger amenities at various stations. Provision of escalators and Lifts at the railway platforms is a part of this and also a necessity in view of the ever increasing passenger volumes. Such facility would facilitate improvement at exit/entry of passengers and is a further step to improve passenger safety as well.
Prime Minister attends State Funeral of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the State Funeral of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe at the Nippon Budokan, Tokyo. Representatives from over 100 countries, including more than 20 Heads of State / Government participated in the State Funeral.
Prime Minister honoured the memory of former PM Abe, who he considered a dear friend and a great champion of India-Japan partnership.
Following the State Funeral, Prime Minister had a private meeting with Mrs. Akie Abe, spouse of Late PM Abe, at the Akasaka Palace. Prime Minister Modi conveyed his heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Abe. He recalled his fond friendship and the significant contribution made by former PM Abe in taking India-Japan relationship to new heights. Prime Minister also had a brief interaction thereafter with Prime Minister Kishida to reiterate his condolences.
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