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Post Info TOPIC: Chennai Real Estate- News- 2


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Flat owners stage protest,say builder didnt keep promise 

Daniel P George TNN 

Chennai: Residents of DLF Garden City at Thalambur on Old Mahabalipuram Road on Wednesday gathered at the builders corporate office on Poonamallee High Road and staged a protest alleging that it had failed to deliver on many of its promises.
The residents,including women,children and the elderly,said the builder had collected 1 lakh for Metrowater pipeline connection when they bought their apartments.So far,they had neither got the connection nor had the sum been refunded,they said.The DLF officials were in talks with the residents till late in the evening.
Swaminathan,a resident,said the condition of the approach roads to the complex was another problem.The roads are in a poor condition and nothing has been done despite repeated reminders, he said.Some others alleged that nearly 1,000 owners were yet to get possession of their apartments in the complex despite paying the full amount.
G P Jayakumar,a spokesperson for the DLF Group,said,A meeting was held between residents and the management. As regards the Metrowater pipeline,it was next to impossible as the government itself had said there would be no new connections,he said.We have assured the residents that the road would be relaid in the next 10 days and the contractor in charge of laying it has already been paid the advance amount.



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Metro rail can take over choultry near Central,says HC 

TIMES NEWS NETWORK 

Chennai: Clearing the last hurdle to the construction of a Metro Rail hub opposite Chennai Central railway station,the Madras high court on Thursday rejected the claims of tenants occupying Sir S Ramasami Mudaliar Choultry.Accepting Chennai Metro Rail Ltds compensation offer,the court directed the agency to settle the compensation claims of tenants and lessees by January 10.
The authorities had in 1888 granted the land to the trust in deference to Mudaliars intention to feed 100 poor people in destitute and helpless circumstances and / or all classes or ca meal every day in perpetuity.
Since then,several tenants and sub-lessees have set up businesses in the choultry,even after it came under the control of the court through its administrator general and official trustee (AG&OT) office.The government and the AG&OT have no objection to giving the land to metro rail but the tenants and lessees have moved the court.The present round of litigation started after the Chennai collector,acting on the Supreme Courts order,concluded that the government must retrieve the land and hand over a portion for the metro rail project.
Pointing out that the original purposeof thetrustis no more relevant,Justice Sasidharan said,The land is situated in a prime location,opposite Central station.The land worth several crores of rupees is now in the possession of a few tenants with right to sub-lease.There has been a mushrooming of shops,with lessees converting one shop into many,for their benefit.The trust is not the beneficiary. 
The lessees are using the property for purposes other than those the government gave them the property for,he said.The judge said the petitioners dont have a case as only private hotels and guest houses are run in the choultry.
The public has no benefit by the petitioners retaining the government property,the judge said.In fact,the office of the AG&OT has been acting as a rent collection agent from lessees and sub-lessees giving them a free hand to keep possession in perpetuity and not prohibiting sub lease, the judge said.
Agreeing with additional advocate-general P H Arvindh Pandians submission that the overriding public purpose of the Metro rail project outweighed loss to thetenantsof a property conditionally leased to them by the government,Justice Sasidharan said,The government has taken a decision to resume the land to restore the public purpose for which it was given to Sir Ramasami Mudaliar.The benefit to the public outweighs the loss to the petitioners.The petitioners have enjoyed the land for all these years.Now it is time to vacate and hand over for larger public purpose. 
The judge said compensation is not an issue because CMRLs is ready to assess and pay compensation to the petitioners.


Pc0041200.jpg 
The court directed CMRL to settle the compensation claims of tenants and lessees by January 10 



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STUDYING OPTIONS 
T NAGARS MULTI-LEVEL parking lot to be redesigned 

Facade Of Panagal Park To Be Retained To Add To Beauty Of Pedestrian Plaza 

Pratiksha Ramkumar | TNN 


The multi-level parking lot planned for T Nagar is likely to be redesigned to keep the look of Panagal Park intact.This will delay the project and increase the cost.
The multi-level parking facility,comprising six or seven levels to hold 510 fourwheelers and 918 two-wheelers,was supposed to come up in front of Panagal Park.The park,a landmark in the bustling shopping district,is one of the few lung spaces in what was once a residential area.
Designers of the pedestrian plaza in Pondy Bazaar insist that the faade of Panagal Park be retained.The architects feel that a park is integral to the proposed pedestrian plazas look and usage, said a senior corporation official.The plaza itself is for people to walk around,sit,relax and have some entertainment,so the park is an extension of the plaza. 
Corporation engineers are studying the feasibility of redesigning the parking lot,which was supposed to be partly underground.Now,we will either built the parking lot completely underground or change it to an L-shaped or Ushaped design, said t h e o f f i c i a l.T h e change in design is likely to increase the cost of the project,which was estimated at 25 crore.
Doing the re-estimation study is also delaying the sanction of funds.Administrative sanction for viability gap funding is required before we tender it out,and that is awaited, said a senior corporation engineer.
The civic bodys engineers are studying options to redesign the parking lot,but the final design will have to be drawn and submitted by the contractor,said the official.
The contractor,who is to build and operate it for seven years,will have to draw the final design as per our specifications and instructions, he said.The contractor can divert vehicles to the side roads when the parking lot is full, he added.The parking lot was supposed to charge cars 30 per hour and two-wheelers 7 per four hours.
The corporation and urban planners had come up with the plan to construct a multi-level parking lot in Panagal Park to solve the shopping hubs parking issues.Residents protests forced the civic body to choose the location in front of the park.The state government gave its sanction in July but tenders have not yet been given.
pratiksha.ramkumar@timesgroup.com


Pc0041100.jpg 

Pc0041000.jpg
VIEW OF THE FUTURE: An artists impression of the parking facility,which some fear would block the view of Panagal Park in the heart of T Nagar 



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Residents welcome pedestrian plaza 

TIMES NEWS NETWORK 


Residents who had almost given up on Pondy Bazaar being revamped,felt a glimmer of hope when the hawkers were made to move into a complex constructed for them.It is only now that we are seeing the real Pondy Bazaar with its wide roads and pavements, said V S Jayaraman,member of Motilal Street Residents Welfare Association.It feels so airy and the pavements make it easy for us to walk as we shop, he said.
The idea of open space in the centre of their neighbourhood,which was once a residential area and is now the busiest shopping district in the city,has many senior citizens cheering.We have parks but it is a luxury to sit on a bench right in the heart of T Nagar when our family members are shopping, said G Sambhasivam,a resident.If it turns into an open cultural space where we can witness exhibitions and shows during a shopping trip it will become like Mylapore, said his wife.
Residents say the corporation should ensure that the encroachments do not return to the pedestrianised area.Stalls selling eatables or clothes should not pop up in the middle of the walkway, said V Venugopal,another resident.They should not allow cars to enter the road and park. Residents are happy with the plan for a multilevel parking lot in Panagal Park.
The residents have been promised a pedestrianised and therefore less congested Pondy Bazaar.Consultants have presented designs to turn around T Nagar three years ago.Until the hawkers were removed,Theagaraya Road was one of the most congested in the city.
Last Thursday,Delhi-based architecture firm Oasis submitted a detailed design and drawings to pedestrianise the 1,400m stretch of Theagaraya Road from Bashyam Road near Panagal Park till Anna Salai.



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Govt identifies feeder routes to metro stations 

TIMES NEWS NETWORK 

Chennai: The state transport authority (STA) has put together a list of 70 routes on which share autos should ply to act as a feeder service to metro stations and bus stops.Of these,47 routes have been identified as acceptable to both share auto operators and Metropolitan Transport Corporation,which had reservations on some routes where it thought the autos would eat into their revenue.
Most of the feeder routes are between 3km and 5km.The feeder service should be between a place where people congregate,but are cut off from other modes of transport, said a senior transport official.The Chennai Share Auto Drivers Association affiliated to AITUC had submitted a list of 70 routes to the transport commissioner.We forwarded this list to MTC,which struck down 23 of the routes fearing loss of revenue, said the official.We have begun the process of streamlining share autos so that commuters get easy access to public transport on trunk routes. 
These routes are in central areas like Egmore,Choolaimedu,Kodambakkam,Guindy and St Thomas Mount;western areas include Valasarawakkam and Porur.In the north,feeder services have been planned at Elephant Gate,Mannadi,Mint,IOC and up to Minjur.In the southern suburbs,Chromepet,Pallavaram,Perungalathur,Tambaram and Guduvanchery will be covered.
The turf war between MTC and share autos have been going on for several years now.MTC used its muscle and stopped the government from issuing permits to the autos.As a result,only 197 legal share autos ply in the city now.The corporation will,however,mend its ways once the first phase of metro rail starts rolling.We have a list of routes that are now parallel to their route.Once metro rail starts operating,we will finalise the plans according to the patronage they receive, said an MTC official from the planning wing.
MTC will also act as feeder services to metro rail within a 10km diameter.


Pc0061900.jpg 
A list of 70 routes has been made for share autos to ply as a feeder service to metro stations and bus stops 



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FREE OF COST 
DHFL buys 74% in JV with Pramerica for 1 

Mayur Shetty TNN 

Mumbai: DHFL group has managed to acquire a 74% stake in an insurance company virtually free of cost thanks to a deal with Prudential Financial of US,its joint venture partner.The US insurer is understood to have paid around Rs 225-250 crore to real estate developer DLF,its erstwhile partner,to exit the joint venture.
Prudential Financial Inc,which does business under the Pramerica brand,had entered India as part of a 26:74 joint venture with DLF in 2008.In 2011,however,DLF decided to focus on its core business and Pramerica,despite being minority partner,entered into an agreement with DLF under which the US company would identify a new partner and DLF would be paid by Pramerica for exiting.
Under the In terms of the deal,while Pramerica would pay DLF an exit premium,DHFL group,including the DHFL and its two promoter companies,would acquire the 74% stake for Rs 1 each.This is for a company with paid-up capital of Rs 760 crore and accumulated losses of around Rs 600 crore which leaves a net worth of around Rs 160 crore.
Sources said that Pramerica identified DHFL as a partner given the housing finance companys distribution network of 300 branches and 3,000 agents.



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Driving on Chennai-Blore highway to become smooth 

Karthikeyan Hemalatha TNN 

Chennai: A long-neglected stretch of the Chennai-Bangalore national highway,which is a nightmare for commuters,promises to become a road that will be a pleasure to drive on.Construction on the 93km Poonamallee-Wallajapet stretch of NH 4,which began in June this year is set to resume in January 2014.
For every 2km,there will be either a subway or an underpass or a flyover, said Parvateesam,National Highways of India project director for Krishnagiri district.Ten flyovers,one major bridge and 15 underpasses are among the 78 structures expected to come up,while 220 existing ones will be repaired.
Some points where flyovers are set to be built are Ambattur,Poonamallee,Sriperumbudur and Kancheepuram.The bad condition of the stretch,one of the densest among national highways in the state,posed a threat to residents of the surrounding areas as well as frequent travellers to Bangalore.
The 1,500-crore project has been awarded to Essel Infraprojects which formed a separate firm,Essel Walajahpet Poonamallee Toll Roads Private Limited,for the same.The work,which began in June,came to a halt due to disagreements on premium-sharing from the toll revenue.


Pc0031800.jpg 

Contractor sure of finishing work on time 

Chennai: Though we are beginning late,we will finish construction well on time, said Srinivasa Rao,general manager,Essel.
The delay has meant a lot of trouble for motorists.In particular,the junction between Mount Poonamallee Road and Poonamallee High Road sports ditches that can defeat even sturdy Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses.Tyres go flat,radiators burst and buses plying on this route are constantly being sent for repairs, said an MTC official.It is impossible to operate buses on that stretch, he added.The junction is an important connecting point for buses to reach places like Koyambedu and Avadi.
And for long-distance travellers like K C Sundaram,it does not make sense why they should pay tolls on such a bad stretch of the highway.The section between the first and second toll booths is an absolute nightmare.There are so many potholes and at nights,it becomes really dangerous.I refuse to pay the toll on many occasions and have complained to the authorities at least four times, said Sundaram.
The director of the Indian Institute of Public Policy,an independent think-tank,drives to Yercaud at least once a month.Beyond the second toll,the drive is a breeze and I can cruise at 120kmph comfortably, he added.



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Coastline to get snazzy with govt realty project

Work On 560 Sea-Facing Flats To Begin Soon

Julie Mariappan TNN

Chennai: Foreshore Estate off Marina may turn into a swank esplanade with the state government planning to build 560 high-end apartments on the sea-front.
The apartments costing 1.21 crore to 1.97 crore will come up between Santhome High Road and Foreshore Estate Main Road.While 130 flats were booked until Thursday,the state is expecting a huge rush for the next one month till February 5,the last day for registration.This is to facilitate another 500 people who showed interest and obtained applications recently.The Coast Guard,which has been looking for residential quarters for its staff,were the first one to have booked two blocks consisting of 80 two-bedroom flats.
With the prevailing market prices of properties in neighbourhoods like MRC Nagar hovering between 18,000 and 20,000 per sqft,the apartments at Foreshore Estate come at relatively lower price.The flats with ample open space,car parking,vitrified floors,fire-fighting systems,spaciously designed rooms and landscaped parks cost only 13,000 per sqft, said a senior official.The self-financing scheme of the TNHB comes in four categories between 960sqft and 1,501sqft in five-storeyed buildings.
However,the government is drawing flak from some environmental activists too.Governments massive redevelopment will cover 25 acres of the Foreshore Estate.Activists alleged the construction was against environmental laws and development control regulations.Instead of building low intensity habitation for fishermen,the government is keen on introducing multi-storeyed buildings along the coast, said environmental activist T Mohan.
While there is a stiff resistance from the occupants of the slum clearance boards Marina tenements for the World Bank-sponsored rehabilitation project,the state is making all efforts to ensure speedy implementation of the Foreshore Estate housing project.

CHANGING CITYSCAPE


The real estate project adjacent to Santhome High Road and Foreshore Estate Main Road is part of the Marina redevelopment scheme
Around 560 flats in five-storeyed buildings to come up at a cost of 1.27 crore to 1.97 crore
Divided into 14 blocks,each block will have 40 flats with a plinth area between 960sqft and 1,501sqft
Ample open space,car parking,fire-fighting systems and landscaped parks are some of the features
There is a plan to construct multi-storeyed apartments with 1,520 units for government staff at a site nearby


Pc0071200.jpg
A ROOM WITH A VIEW: Identified area for the project at Foreshore estate



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EXPOSED IN THANE CONSUMER FORUM 
Cheating on area to cost builder 92K 

Nitin Yeshwantrao TNN 

Thane: A builder in Ulhasnagar who fleeced buyers with incorrect building plans and cheated on the area of the sold flat was exposed by the Thane District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum last week.
Vijay Lalsingh Thakur,the owner of Thakur Constructions,was directed by the forum to pay over Rs 92,000 in compensation and legal expenses to Nikum Popat Kanhu for not providing the flat area promised at the time of accepting payment in 2005-2006.
The area of the flat in the multi-storey Sai Ashray building in Lal Chakki in Ulhasnagar was in variance with the plan shown to Kanhu in 2005.
The builder promised 550 sq ft area and the money was paid at the rate of Rs 927 per sq ft then, advocate Poonam Makhijani,who represented Kanhu in the forum,said.When the construction was completed and the builder handed over possession,the area turned out to be 365 sq ft. 
When the buyer confronted Thakur with the fact and pointed out his falsehood,the builder argued that 550 sq ft was supposed to be the super-built-up area and not the carpet area.
Kanhu also pointed out inconsistencies,such a smaller door size,cracks on the walls and ceiling,and the use of stilt parking for a different purpose.



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மதுரையில் " இ பிளானிங்" (கட்டடம் மற்றும் வரைபட அனுமதியை வெப்சைட் மூலம் வழங்கும் முறை) மீண்டும் தொடக்கம் !!

 
images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQr37CagKJxa6E_y6dKY3QjkBobnj84dCFMhcJ9Xs-kuoBHtO9Y6wமதுரை மாநகராட்சியில் கட்டட அனுமதி பெற எளிமையாகவும் புரோக்கர்களை ஒழிக்கவும் கொண்டு வரப்பட்ட 'இ பிளானிங்' திட்டம் ஓரம் கட்டப்பட்டதால் கட்டட அனுமதியில் மீண்டும் குளறுபடிகள் தொடங்கியுள்ளன.

ஐந்து ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன், "இ பிளானிங்' முறை அறிமுகமானது."ஆன்லைன்' முறையில் அனுமதி பெறும் அத்திட்டத்திற்கு, சென்னை தனியார் நிறுவனம் ஒன்று, "சாப்ட்வேர்' அமைத்துக் கொடுத்தது. மாநகராட்சிக்கு வருவாய் தரக்கூடிய அந்த முறையை, முந்தைய நிர்வாகம் கிடப்பில் போட்டது.
முறைகேடுகளை தடுக்க, மீண்டும் "இ பிளானிங்' திட்டத்தை செப்.,க்குள் கொண்டு வர, கலெக்டர் அன்சுல் மிஸ்ரா முயற்சி எடுத்தார். இதுதொடர்பாக அதிகாரிகளுக்கு பயிற்சி அளிக்க சென்னை நிறுவனத்திற்கு கோரிக்கை வைக்கப்பட்டது. 
 
மதுரையில், கட்டடம் மற்றும் வரைபட அனுமதியை வெப்சைட் மூலம் வழங்கும் 
images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTG1CkTd3KqFoz3VW3RbhiMQ4JJ1QMYV2iCz8wW7inzvFIpfosJBAஇ பிளானிங்முறைக்கு, மாநகராட்சி தயாராகியுள்ளது. இந்த புதிய முறையால், இனி புரோக்கர்களுக்கு இடமில்லை. கட்டணம் இல்லாமல், மாநகராட்சி அலுவலகத்தில் பயிற்சி அளிக்க தயாரானது. ஆனால், மாநகராட்சி அதிகாரிகள் பயிற்சியில் பங்கேற்பதை தவிர்க்கின்றனர். "இ பிளானிங்' முறை வந்தால், மண்டலங்கள் மூலம் அனுமதி வழங்குவது தடைபடும் என்பதால், இப்பயிற்சியை புறக்கணிக்கின்றனர். இதனால், பயனுள்ள திட்டம் வீணாகிறது. அதிகாரிகள் பயிற்சிக்கு வராததால், கூடாரத்தை காலிசெய்ய, சம்மந்தப்பட்ட நிறுவனம் தயாராகி வருகிறது. இதனால், இழப்பு அவர்களுக்கு இல்லை; மாநகராட்சி வருவாய்க்கு தான்.
 
கட்டட அனுமதியில் செய்த குளறுபடிகள் ஒட்டுமொத்த மதுரையை சுயலாபத்திற்கு அடகு வைத்த செயலாக விமர்சிக்கப்பட்டது. ஆதாரபூர்வமாகவும் அதிகாரப்பூர்வமாகவும் மாநகராட்சி நகரமைப்பு பிரிவில் நடந்த 'தில்லாலங்கடிகள்' கண்டுபிடிக்கப்பட்டன.விஜிலென்ஸ் உள்ளிட்ட பல்வேறு தரப்பு விசாரணைகளும் நடந்தது. விசாரணையின் முடிவுகள் மர்மமான நிலையில் பணம் கொழிக்கும் அந்த துறையில் அடுத்தடுத்து விதிமீறல்கள் தொடர்ந்தன. 
 
மதுரையில், 4,000 சதுர அடி குடியிருப்பு கட்டடம், 2,000 சதுர அடிக்குள் கட்டப்படும் வணிக வளாகங்களுக்கு, மாநகராட்சியின் அனுமதி பெற வேண்டும். நேரடியாக விண்ணப்பிக்கும் நடைமுறையால், குளறுபடி ஏற்படுகிறது.

புரோக்கர்கள் குறுக்கீடு, மண்டலங்களில் முறைகேடான அனுமதி, கூடுதல் கட்டணம் வசூல் 
உள்ளிட்ட தொல்லையால், விண்ணப்பிக்கும் மக்கள், பல மாதங்கள் காத்திருக்க வேண்டியுள்ளது. கவனிக்க தவறினால், அலைக்கழிப்பும், மன உளைச்சலையும் சந்திக்க நேரிடும்.இதற்கு முற்றுப்புள்ளி வைக்க, வெப்சைட்டில், விண்ணப்பிக்கும், இ பிளானிங் திட்டத்தை, 2013 ஜன.,1ல் மாநகராட்சி செயல்படுத்துகிறது. இதன்மூலம், விண்ணப்பித்த ஒரு வாரத்தில் அனுமதி கிடைக்கும். 


சாட்டிலைட் மூலம் எடுக்கப்பட்ட வரைபடம், மாநகராட்சி வெப்சைட்யில் அப் லோடு செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளது. விண்ணப்பதாரரிடம் இருந்து அனுமதி கேட்டு வரும் வரைபடங்கள், அங்கீகாரம் பெற்ற வரைபட வரைவாளர் மூலம், கம்யூட்டர் வழியாக சரிபார்க்கப்படும். உறுதி செய்த பின், செலுத்திய வேண்டிய கட்டணம் குறித்து, விண்ணப்பதாரருக்கு இ மெயில் அனுப்பப்படும். 


அதன் பின், விண்ணப்ப கட்டணம், கட்டட உரிமை ஆணை கட்டணம், கட்டட இடிபாடு அகற்றும் கட்டணம், தொழிலாளர் நலநிதி கட்டணம், திட்டக்குழுமம் அபிவிருத்தி கட்டணம், பாதாள சாக்கடை கட்டணம் மற்றும் தபால் செலவு கட்டணம் ரூ.100 ஆகியவற்றை, மாநகராட்சி கருவூலத்தில் செலுத்தி ரசீது பெற வேண்டும்.


அந்த ரசீதுடன், புளூ பிரின்ட் நகல் ஐந்து, பத்திரம் நகல், ரூ.20 ஸ்டாம்பு பேப்பரில் உறுதிமொழிப் படிவம், இடத்தின் நான்கு புறமும் தெரியும் வகையில் உரிமையாளர் நிற்கும் போட்டோ, உரிமையாளரின் பாஸ்போர்ட் போட்டோ இரண்டு ஆகியவற்றை இணைத்து, கமிஷனரிடம் விண்ணப்பிக்க வேண்டும். 
அதற்காக, அவரது அலுவலகம் முன், விண்ணப்ப சேகரிப்பு பெட்டி க்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.விண்ணப்பங்களை, மைய நகரமைப்பு பிரிவினர் சரிபார்த்து, ஆவணங்கள் சரியாக இருப்பின், அனுமதி உத்தரவு வழங்கப்படும். 

 
என்றும் அதிகபட்சம் ஒரு வாரத்தில் விண்ணப்பித்தவர்களுக்கு கட்டட அனுமதி கிடைக்கும் என்றும் தெரிவித்திருந்தனர். இதற்காக மாநகராட்சி மைய அலுவலகத்தில் தனி 'சர்வர்' அமைக்கப்பட்டது.

வழக்கம் போல 'ஓபனிங்' நன்றாக தான் இருந்தது. ஆனால் 'பினிசிங்' படுமோசமாக உள்ளது. 'இ பிளானிங்' இல்லாமல் போய்விட்டது. மாதக்கணக்கில் கட்டட அனுமதிக்கு விண்ணப்பித்தவர்கள் காத்திருக்கின்றனர். மீண்டும் புரோக்கர்கள் கட்டுப்பாட்டிற்கு கட்டட அனுமதி விவகாரங்கள் சென்றுள்ளன. இத்திட்டத்திற்கு உருவாக்கிய சிறப்பு அறை எந்நேரமும் பூட்டிக்கிடப்பதே அதற்கு சான்று. மோசமான இந்த முடிவால் முந்தைய ஆட்சியில் இருந்த விதிமீறல் அனுமதிகள், மீண்டும் தலைதுாக்கும்.


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Jul 16 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Middle income homes may get cheaper
Mumbai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
Home loan seekers will soon find themselves being increasingly wooed by banks, and affordable housing projects could get cheaper with the Reserve Bank of India announcing a raft of measures to encourage bank lending to this segment.

The RBI has said that in addition to small-value loans, home loans of up to `50 lakh (for houses of value up to `65 lakh) in metros and loans up to `40 lakh (home value `50 lakh) in other centres will be considered affordable housing. Home loan seekers will soon find themselves being increasingly wooed by banks, and affordable housing projects could get cheaper with the Reserve Bank of India announcing a raft of measures that encourages bank lending to these segment.

The RBI has said that in addition to small value loans, home loans to individuals up to Rs 50 lakh (for houses of value up to Rs 65 lakh) in metros and loans up to Rs 40 lakh (home value Rs 50 lakh) in other centres will be considered as affordable housing. Extending these loans will entitle banks to float infrastructure bonds up to seven years. Money raised under these bonds will not be subject to reserve requirements such as cash reserve ratio (CRR) and statutory liquidity ratio (SLR).
Eligible bonds will also get exemption in calculating priority sector lending targets.

Bankers said that they were preparing for a pick-up in home loans in light of the increase in tax breaks from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. “The infrastructure status to affordable housing projects would make it easier for developers to get finance. Banks in any case were going after home loans given the absence of pick-up in corporate credit,“ said KR Kamath, chairman, Punjab National Bank. He added that banks also prefer home loans because these are less riskier as the lending is diversified and also provides them an opportunity to crosssell other services to borrowers.

“The measures make home loans more attractive but I do not know to what extent it will impact rates as most banks are already extending home loans close to their Base Rate,“ said Kamath. Base Rate is the benchmark rate below which banks are not allowed to price their loans.

The finance minister in the Budget had said that banks would be allowed to float long-term bonds for lending to infrastructure. Explaining the rationale to extend this facility for housing, the RBI said “Apart from what is technically defined as infrastructure, affordable housing is another segment of the economy which both requires long-term funding and is of critical importance. Accordingly, the Reserve Bank intends to ease the way for banks to raise longterm resources to finance their longterm loans to infrastructure as well as affordable housing. This will help promote both growth and stability, as well as improve the supply side.“

The RBI said that granting the exemptions will mitigate the asset-liability management (ALM) problems faced by banks in extending project loans to infrastructure and core industries sectors. “A collateral benefit if bank bond issuances prove successful is the development of the domestic corporate bond market,“ the RBI said.

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Jul 15 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Britannia plot sold for Rs 172cr
Chennai
 
 
 
 
Raising hopes of a revival of the realty sector, citybased Sugal and Damani Foundation has purchased 8.6 acres of land in Padi from biscuit maker Britannia for Rs 172 crore.

This is the highest land transaction by value in the city this year. Three other companies have also invested in the property , sources involved in the deal said. The buyers are likely to convert the land into residential use for promoting multi-storeyed apartments, they said. Britannia had floated closed tenders for selling the property a year ago. “It was through a competitive bidding that we picked up the property .
The deal was concluded a week ago,“ said a representative of Sugal and Damani.

Chennai saw quite a few big-budget land transactions, valued at close to `2,300 crore, last year. Xanders invested `690 crore in Shriram IT SEZ, Landmark builders bought 14.16 acres from erstwhile Binny Mills for `490 crore, Ceebros bought Atlantic Hotel for `165 crore and Viceroys Hotels for `480 crore and VGN bought 1.43 acres in Nungambakkam from Tata Communications for `195 crore and 10 acres in Guindy from Hindustan Teleprinters for `272 crore.

Many of them are under various stages of redevelopment. Local director of international realty consultant Jones Lang LaSalle, Kevin William Albert said, “After a oneyear lull, market is showing signs of recovery by recording large land transactions“.
Apartment sales have been showing signs of recovery in recent weeks, said industry sources.

Ceebros, which launched an apartment project at the Atlantic site at Egmore last month, has priced it at `15,000 per sq ft, much lower than what many other projects have been charging in the city in the past.

Clarification The report, `Colonial Heritage Lost to Fire' (July 14, 2014), said the heritage buildings Agurchand Mansion and General Post Office were “lost to fires“.
Parts of the buildings were damaged in fires but the structures are still in use. The error is regretted.

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Jul 15 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Civic body gets public nod for Rs 1,000cr project to ease traffic
Chennai
 
 
 
 
It looks like the mother of all corporation projects and it was the public who decided its implementation. The city corporation has proposed a ` `1,100 crore network of flyovers and an elevated road, which mayor Saidai S Duraisami says, will transport you from Ega Theatre junction on Poonamallee High Road to Valluvar Kottam junction in just two minutes.

The corporation along with the consultant for the project made a presentation at a public hearing held on Monday at the Karnataka Sangha School in T Nagar. The people who had gathered gave a green signal for the project.

The frustration of being stuck in traffic for long hours was obvious from their reactions. “It takes one hour to come from Sterling Road to Nungambakkam by motorbike. We have given up on our cars. This plan is such a relief for us,” said Palani, a Nungambakkam resident.

Such an ambitious plan which has been approved by the CMDA and traffic police is not simple even by the looks of it. This 2.6 kilometre stretch will have one flyover at Ega Theatre junction, an additional rail over-bridge parallel to the existing Guruswamy bridge, three interchanges in the shape of a trumpet, and an elevated road

starting from the rail over-bridge up to Valluvar Kottam junction with drop points connecting Spurtank Road, Harrington Road, Sterling Road, College Road, Nungambakkam and Anna Salai. “It will not make sense to have a flyover at every junction because the traffic will only pile up at the next junction,” said Gopinath of Stup Consultants.
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Jul 15 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Govt drops finance city plan on wetland
Chennai:
 
 
 

Gives 72 Ha Of Pallikaranai Marsh To Forest Dept For Conservation

In a move that won praise from environmentalists, the state government has given up its plan to establish a financial city on 71.58 hectares of wetland in Perumbakkam. The land has been now been handed over to the forest department as the water body supports a lot of avian population.

The government is now eying a vast stretch of land in Nandambakkam, owned by IDPL, a central pharma public sector undertaking, to set up the financial city, informed sources said.

This portion of the Pal likaranai marshland, a prime patch of wetland, situated along the southern side of Medavakkam-Sholinganallur Road was earmarked for Financial City and Media Entertainment Park by the previous DMKled government.

“This piece of wetland holds great promise for a diversity of birds, and its protection is of vital importance,“ said Nature Trust founder K V R K Thirunaranan.

The rainwater has to flow to the Pallikaranai marsh through this wetland before moving on to Okkiyam Maduvu. Thirunaranan said any damage to this portion of wetland would hinder flow in the inlet channel to the marsh, which has been a birdwatchers' paradise and contributed to the bio-diversity of the site.

In an order, the goverment said “after careful con sideration“ it has decided to cancel the 2010 order transferring 71.58 hectares in Sholinganallur and Perumbakkam villages in Kancheepuram district to set up the financial city. Now the revenue department has ordered that it be trans ferred to the forest department.

Pallikaranai marsh gets sea water through OkkiyamThoraipakkam canal, while freshwater comes via Perumbakkam wetland and other sources. While ELCOT SEZ and Union HRD ministry's Central Institute of Classical Tamil have been allotted portions of wetland nearby, the recent plan of the government to use another portion of Perumbakkam wetland for Sholinganallur Taluk office has drawn flak.

The white-spotted garden skink, Russell's viper, fish such as the dwarf gourami and chromide are found in Pallikaranai. Windowpane oyster, mud crab, mullet, half beak and green Chromide are some of the estuarine fauna present there. The health of the Pallikaranai marsh hinged on the status of this wetland, said Thirunaranan.

After years of sustained efforts of environmentalists, ornithologists and volunteers, 317 hectares were notified as a reserve forest in Pallikarnai in April 2007.

In 2013, the Kancheepuram district administration reserved about 131.6 hectares of the marsh, taking the total to about 610-620 hectares.

“Notifying more areas will protect the wetland ecosystem of Pallikaranai marshland, provided it is contiguous,“ said V Srinivasan of Save Pallikaranai Marshland, pointing to 170 hectares of the corporation land being used for dumping municipal solid waste.

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Jul 15 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Porur flyover cost up by Rs 20cr due to design change
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
The state highways department has begun fresh efforts to revive the Porur flyover project, stalled for more than two years due to the need to effect a change in design. The cost of construction has gone up by `20 crore.

The project, which began in 2010, was estimated to cost `35 crore. “We have asked the government for a revised sanction so that we can go ahead with the new design,“ said an official in the state highways department's metro wing.

Work on the flyover, set to come up at the Mount Poonamallee Road-Arcot Salai junction, was held up as a 600mlong-pipe carrying drinking water could not be shifted.
“Even Metrowater couldn't find a contractor who could do the job. Besides, the pipe was 1.5m wide. Any disruption in water supply would have led to a law and order issue. What could have been completed for `6 crore is now costing us `20 crore to change the design,“ the official said. The foundation piers will now be on both sides of the pipeline instead of going straight. This will mean more concrete and in effect, higher costs.

Just 20% of the project has been completed. And the original contractor has quit citing escalating costs. “While we are waiting for the revised sanction, we have asked the tender committee if we can float new tenders. This is to speed up the process,“ said the official.

When the work starts, it will take at least a year to complete.
This is second time there has been a change in design. The first time was when the design envisaging double columns was changed to one incorporations single columns. This was done to avoid damage to other underground utilities.

AAcquiring 9,600 sq m of land from 126 people also took a long time.

 

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Jul 15 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
State to create 12,000-acre land bank to lure investors
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
In a bid to keep adequate parcels of land readily available with SIPCOT so that they could be allotted to investors quickly, the state government is taking efforts to create a land bank of about 12,000 acres.

Replying to the debate on demand for grants for his department on Monday, industries minister P Thangamani said the land bank would not draw from cultivable land.

“We are acquiring mostly dry and barren land,” he said. The proposals seeking the admi istrative sanction of the government for land acquisition are in various stages, he said.

Sources said land is being identified in districts like Vellore, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Tuticorin and Perambalur.

The government is keen on acquiring land for establishing eight more new industrial complexes such as Oragadam Industrial Growth Centre Expansion II, Cheyyar Industrial Complex, and industrial parks in Madurai, Tuticorin, Tindivanam, Manapparai, Nemili and Panapakkam.

“We are glad the state is making an effort to industrial

ise the region with initiatives like land bank, but it should also ensure the acquisition is not dragged to courts,” said an industrialist. At least, 11,000 acres will also be acquired in the coming years, as the staterun SIPCOT is taking efforts to establish new industrial parks in nine southern districts to bring in investments of ` `25,000 crore, sources said.
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Jul 15 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
5,400 bank officials face heat for farm loan irregularities
New Delhi:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
The government has initiated action against more than 5,400 bank officials related to irregularities in the agricultural debt waiver scheme. At least 6,823 ineligible beneficiaries have been detected so far and Rs 627 crore recovered from them.

In response to a question in Lok Sabha, finance minister Arun Jaitley said 6,823 ineligible beneficiaries were detected in the 2008-09 agriculture debt waiver scheme. He said action was initiated against 5,411 bank officials and 22 FIRs were registered. The minister informed the House that 80,299 cases were looked into and in about 6,823 cases, benefits of the scheme went to ineligible beneficiaries.

Rs 627 crore was recovered from ineligible beneficiaries so far, he said. “All direct agricultural loans disbursed to farmers between March 31, 1997 and March 31, 2007, overdue as on December 31, 2007, which remained unpaid until February 29, 2008 were covered under the scheme,” Jaitley said.

The farm debt waiver scheme was announced in the

2008-09 budget by the UPA-1 government. Implemented by RBI through public sector and local cooperative banks, the scheme benefitted more than 3.73 crore farmers to the extent of Rs 52,259 crore. However, CAG carried out a performance audit, and in its sample study, it found irregularities which almost put a question mark on one-third of the total disbursements.
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Jul 16 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
LAND ACQUISITION FOR ELEVATED ROAD POSES CHALLENGE
 
 
 

3Km In 4 Mins Is Promise Of Flyover From Kilpauk To Nungambakkam

The city corporation is set to embark on what may become its trophy project to cut traffic congestion but the galling task of land acquisition stares it in the face. Of the `1,100-crore the corporation has earmarked for its integrated traffic infrastructure development plan from Ega Theatre junction on Poonamallee High Road to Valluvar Kottam junction in Nungambakkam, it will have to shell out `750 crore as compensation to private land owners; only `350 crore is for construction.

To create this elevated road over 2.76km in the heart of the city , the corporation will have to acquire a total of 38,000sqm of land.
Of this, 11,000sqm belongs to Chennai Corporation and the state government. The bulk of 27,000sqm will have to be acquired from private owners, largely on Valluvar Kottam High Road.

“We will need to partly demolish some houses on this stretch. Land acquisition will be the toughest task,“ said a senior corporation official. “Some owners may refuse or say we will give you the land once you start construction. Finally, we will be at the mercy of the courts.“ Residents took the corporation to court in 2009 over land acquisition for the Cenotaph Road-Turnbulls Road flyover. The high court eventually quashed the petition.

The civic body does not want to go through this again and sources say it can't afford the `750 crore payout. “We will give compensation in the form Transfer of Development Rights (TDR),“ Mayor Saidai Duraisamy said on Monday at a public consultation. Though people were unanimous in their opinion for the need for the elevated road, they wanted compensation in cash.
“TDR is complicated. They should give us money ,“ said K Ramakrishnan, a resident of Nungambakkam. TDR allows owners to build the space lost as additional floors on existing buildings or at a different location.
TDR can also be sold.

A study is being carried out to identify and remove encroachments before the corporation estimates which private buildings will go. Government land to be used includes parts of Independence Day park, garbage collection centre and metrowater pumping station in Valluvar Kottam.

The unusual feature of the project is the three trumpet-shaped interchanges that will do away with signals at Ega Theatre junction, Sterling Road-College Road junction and Valluvar Kottam High Road-Kodambakkam High Road junction. The road will start with a trumpet-shaped flyover at Ega Theatre junction on Poonamallee High Road. From this point, a rail-over-bridge parallel to the existing Guruswamy Bridge will come up. The four-lane road 15m above ground will start from here and stretch till Thirumalai Pillai Road, Valluvar Kottam.

Unlike other flyovers that have no entry or exit points, the elevated road has two-way approach bridges from Harrington Road, VR Ramanathan Salai, Sterling Road, College Road, Nungambakkam High Road, Tank Bund Road and Anna Salai. “ About 30% of the traffic will remain on existing roads and 70% will move to the elevated corridor,“ said Gopinath from STUP Consultants, which drew up the alignment.

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Jul 16 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Architect of collapsed Porur tower denied bail
Chennai:
TNN
 
 
 
Two weeks after a 12-storeyed building collapsed in Porur, the Madras high court on Tuesday refused to grant anticipatory bail to an architect of the project, B Suganya.

Justice P Devadass, rejecting 27-year-old Suganya's plea against imminent arrest, said that so far eight people had been arrested in connection with the collapse. Pointing out that Suganya was an architect and an employee of Dhrishticone Architectural Communications Private Limited, the judge said she was engaged by the promoter's company, Prime Sristi Housing. “In this case, Suganya is alleged to have participated in the preparation of the planning. Investigation is going on,“ the judge said, adding that it was not a fit case for anticipatory bail, especially at this crucial stage.

Noting that her architectural plan had to be approved by CMDA officials, Justice Devadass said, “It is to be proved by the CMDA officials as to how far they contributed for the collapse of the building. It is for the prosecution to collect evidence.“

An advocate, R Krishnamurthy, had filed an intervenor petition opposing anticipatory bail relief to the woman architect saying it would set a bad precedent.

In her petition, Suganya had sought anticipatory bail saying she had only co-designed the building and that she had no role in the construction. She said her role as a registered architect was limited only to deciding the height and shape, height of rooms, size of windows and placement of rooms inside the flats.



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Jul 16 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
REDUCING EMISSION IITs working on new cement blend to cut down carbon footprint
Chennai
 
 
 
 
In an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of cement by 40%, three Indian Institutes of Technology are working on a new blend that will substitute up to half of the Portland cement normally used to make concrete. Researchers from IIT-Delhi, IITBombay and IIT-Madras are collaborating in the project with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and the Central University of Las Villas in Cuba.

The production of each tonne of cement releases more than 800kg equivalent of carbon dioxide. Substituting a fraction of the Portland cement used to make concrete with alternative material is a well-established way of cutting emissions. But existing alternative material that allows substituting a large fraction of cement is hard to find.
Commonly used industrial waste products -slag from steel industry or fly ash from coal power plants are not available in large enough q in large enough quantities to meet the demand.

The new blend, a combina tion of calcined clay and ground limestone, is expected to replace half of the Portland cement. Using LC3 (Lime stone Calcined Clay Cement) will mean lower carbon diox ide emission, lower cost be cause the substitution materi al is abundantly available, and lower capital because no change of equipment or addi tional training of construc tion workers is required. The researchers also expect it to be energy efficient as lesser ener gy will be required to manu facture and manage in dustrial waste as ility of using there is a possibility of using existing mining and other wastes. It will also extend the life of limestone reserves.

Manu Santhanam, professor of civil engineering at IIT-M, said, “We expect LC3 to score over flyash in early compressive strength properties.
Most construction projects need to achieve strength early .“

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in three years. The researchers will also be working with Technology and Action for Rural Advancement (TARA), a social enterprise that works to create sustainable livelihoods by providing development solutions, in association with some cement companies. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has granted more than 4 million Swiss Francs for developing and testing of LC3.

Applied globally , LC3 could help bring down future emissions by several notches, researchers feel, having a major impact on global climate change.

 

 

 


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Jul 17 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Low-cost housing players go all out for raising funds
Chennai:
 
 
 

Relaxing FDI Limit In Housing Sector A Major Fillip

After the budget, the affordable housing segment is buzzing with action with non banking finance companies (NBFCs) getting into a fund raising mode. These institutions lend home loans to the lower income group as well as provide finance towards rural housing needs.

Among the budget proposals is an allocation of Rs 4,000 crore to affordable housing through the National Housing Bank (NHB), a reduction in the size of projects eligible for FDI (foreign direct investment) from 50,000 square metres to 20,000 square metre and halving the minimum investment limit for FDI to $5 million.

This move to relax FDI limit is seen to help increase development of lowcost housing. Further, the finance minister has allocated Rs 7,060 crore for developing 100 smart cities, redeveloping satellite towns of major cities as well as smaller cities and necessary incentives for real estate investment trusts (REITS), which will have a pass-through for the purpose of taxation, in effect avoiding double taxation.

Shriram Housing Finance is looking to raise nearly Rs 500 crore this fiscal through a combination of debt and portfolio securitization.

“We are going through a rating process and will soon go for funding,” Sujan Sinha, its CEO said.The company’s loan book, which was Rs 200 crore last fiscal, will double this year.

Muthoot Housing Finance (part of Muthoot Fincorp) plans Rs 300 crore this year from banks and secured bonds for onward lending.

“We’ll look at an equity infusion next fiscal,” Maneesh Srivastava, its CEO said. The company’s loan book of Rs 295 crore last fiscal will reach

Rs 550 crore this year. The average loan size of the company is Rs 6.3 lakh.

The marginal reduction in cost of funds for rural housing is attracting new players. Earlier, most companies operated on a 2% spread (the difference between the cost of borrowing and lending). This is now set to increase. “The interest rate on rural housing is currently 9.6% and with the budget provisions, we expect to get refinance from NHB (National Housing Bank) to the extent of 6.6%,” KR BijiMon, chief general manager, Muthoot Finance said.

The Muthoot Group (of Muthoot Finance) has entered this space through Muthoot Home Fin India.

The home finance venture’s first year loan disbursal target is Rs 200 crore with 40% of the loan book earmarked towards financing the needs of rural areas.

In the case of home loans to the low income group in urban areas, some NBFCs are operating on higher spreads ranging from 3% to 5%

with cost of borrowing being linked to the base rate of 10%-10.25% and above and lending rates hovering at 15%. As per housing ministry statistics, there is a shortage of around 18.78 million houses in the country, 96% of which is in the economically weaker and low income segments.

But industry observers feel that costing continues to pose a challenge with respect to execution of affordable housing projects.

“While loans up to Rs 50 lakh will be categorised as priority sector loans and the benefit on exemption of the CRR (cash reserve ratio and SLR (statutory liquidity ratio) can be passed on to end customers, costs like cement and labour are on an upward trajectory. In such projects, cost control is a key issue and continued rise in price of raw materials can impact working capital of developers,” Prakash Challa, chairman of finance and taxation committee of CREDAI (Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India) said.

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Jul 16 2014 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)
 
Home Buyers Back in the Market After a Long Lull
NEW DELHI | MUNBAI | BANGALORE
 
 
 
 
Builders in the National Capital Region were pleasantly surprised to see po tential homebuyers thronging their site offices over the weekend, reminding them of the situation 12-18 months ago, before the fortunes of the housing sector began to decline.

Some friendly measures in the budget for 2014-15 announced last week, the general improvement in sentiment after a stable government came to power in May and a rising stock market have brought back hope in the real estate market. Property brokers and experts say home sales have improved, though moderately, by 5-10% over the past two months.

“With fear and uncertainty receding, customers are coming back,“ said Samarjit Singh, managing director of IndiaHomes, a real estate brokerage firm that has offices across the country . “Till about two months ago, customers were not even willing to have a conversation,“ he added.

What is also contributing to this positivity is the subdued rise in property prices over the past few quarters and improving affordability among buyers, especially in the mid-income segment.

“A big driver for the housing market is a sense of job security among buyers, which is back to quite an extent,“ said Keki Mistry, vice chairman and CEO of HDFC, India's biggest mortgage lender. “The sense we are getting from builders is that enquiries are increasing.“ Sanjay Dutt, executive managing director, south Asia at property advisory firm Cushman & Wakefield said there might not be a surge in home sales soon but an improvement in job confidence could help drive one before long.

With the new government and a good budget, there is expectation of investments in various old and new businesses that will create jobs and improve consumption across the country . Rising office space leasing by companies for expansion of their businesses and a buoyant stock market have already perked up sentiment.

“Eventually, profit booking in equities will start to reflect positively on real estate sales,“ said Dutt. The increase in the deduc tion limit for interest on loan for self-occupied properties from ` . 2 lakh in . 1.5 lakh to ` the budget may not be the only trigger, but it has certainly enthused buyers. “It helps in improving affordability for those who are looking at buying a house,“ said Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of property research firm Liases Foras.

There is almost 10-15% rise in enquiries for home loans compared with the JanuaryMarch quarter, said Gagan Banga, vice chairman and managing director of Indiabulls Housing Finance.

Brokers in different parts of the country are surprised at the number of enquiries they have got in the months of May and June, which have traditionally been slow months for the real estate sector because people do not prefer to venture out in the heat to look at projects.

“But this time it was different. People wanted to see projects de spite the heat,“ said Abhay Khemka of Gurgaon-based real estate brokerage firm Khemka Investments and Properties. “The game of real estate is about sentiment,“ he said.

Homebuyers have been sceptical and in a wait-andwatch mode over the past two years because of a slow economy , fear of job losses and high property prices.
As home sales slowed down, the inventory of unsold homes rose to about 700,000 by the end of March. This forced developers to offer discounts and schemes such as the 20:80 subvention scheme where a buy needs to pay 20% of the cost of a house upfront and the rest after possession. Many of these schemes are still on offer. Bangalore has been the most prolific market in terms of home sales, having seen a steady increase in the number of white collar jobs, especially in the IT industry .

“The economy is on the revival path and we expect sales to further improve during the festive season. Last year, lower job growth and salary increments had impacted the sales,“ said JC Sharma, managing director of Bangalore-based Sobha Developers.

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Jul 18 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
GOING OVER THE TOP?
 
 
 

CHENNAI GETS MORE FLYOVERS AS GLOBAL CITIES PULL THEIRS DOWN; ELEVATED ROADS HAVE 5-YR LIFE, SAY PLANNERS

With avenue trees dotting its sides, St Mary's Road in Alwarpet is one of the few roads where one can hear birds chirping while walking in the shade. However, the city's first comprehensive report on traffic (compiled in 2008) suggests that a flyover be built on the road. The road, which can be developed to encourage walking, could in future be destroyed by the sound of heavy machinery and dugup roads, and the rumble of cars will only get louder, drowning out the birdsong.

With 22 flyovers carrying traffic and at least three dozen in the pipeline, Chennai is all set to rise to a whole new level.
The highways minister, in his policy note released on Wednesday , said 12 flyovers are being proposed at a cost of `1,750 crore. This includes two flyo vers, each more than 1km long.

The corporation has announced the building of a 3.3km-long elevated road to connect Ega Theatre junction on Poonamallee High Road and Valluvar Kottam. If you thought these were ambitious, two elevated roads, each more than 40km long, have been proposed to connect Madhya Kailash with Mamallapuram and Chengalpet with Tirusulam. While city planners and those advocating improvement of public transport say building flyovers is akin to tackling obesity by buying bigger pants, state officials say flyovers are a necessary evil, which can be justified in economic terms.

The calculation made by the government is simple: If any junction has more than 10,000 passenger car units (PCU) crossing it in an hour, the In dian Road Congress suggests that a flyover be built. Based on this recommendation, the Comprehensive Traffic and Transportation Study (CTTS) recommended flyovers in almost every other junction in the city .
“If a junction has more than 10,000 cars an hour, the cost of building a flyover will be equal to the fuel wastage at the junction over three years,“ said a highways official. “Though the government does not get the money back in actual terms, the benefits are given back to society and adds to the overall development of the city .“

Urban planners, however, decry flyovers as the worst way to spend public money . “The problem of congestion cannot be addressed one junction at a time. The government has to take a holistic view of how the city moves and find solutions that are future-proof,“ said Chris Kost, technical director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy .

Even consultants to the government make it clear that flyovers lose their relevance in five years. “While cities such as Seoul and San Francisco are tearing down flyovers, we cannot go in the opposite direction and build more,“ said Kost.

Local newspapers in Seoul, South Korea have reported that the city is pulling down its first flyover built in 1968, around the same time as Anna flyover (1974). The flyover in Seoul will make way for a dedicated bus lane. The South Korean city has a population of 2.5 crore, while Chennai has 80 lakh. The number of cars in Seoul is 30 lakh, while Chennai has six lakh. The process of bringing down flyovers began in 2002 in Seoul, after the administration realised that flyovers do not decongest cities.

European cities have made using private transport expensive and difficult, while encouraging use of public transport, cycling and walking. London, for instance, has earned the tag of being the most expensive city to park your car in and also charges a congestion tax to discourage people from using cars.

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Jul 18 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
`Massive project needed to reveal hidden histories in temple inscriptions'
 
 
 
 
It would be a fallacy to say Indians don't value history. Our ancients left detailed records. Tamils not only recorded events on palm-leaf manuscripts and copper plates but also on temple walls. In fact, old temples found all over the state have extensive inscriptions recording several events ­ from small land donations to big wars. Pieced together, these records can offer significant insights into the lives of Tamil people.

The Survey on Indian Epigraphy (1996) says Tamil Nadu is the biggest source of inscriptions in India. Inscriptions written in Tamil occupy the first position in the volume, amounting nearly to 20,000, followed by those in Kannada (10,600), Sanskrit (7,500) and Telugu (4,500).
Inscriptions in Tamil language dating to the third century BCE have been published in the survey .

The state department of archaeology has a separate epigraphy wing that was started in 1966. The primary function of this wing is to copy inscriptions on boulders, stone pillars, stones, temple walls and on copper plates. The inscriptions are deciphered, edited and published.
So far, about 14,000 inscriptions have been copied and preserved in this wing. Some original copper plates and old palm leaf manuscripts are also under the custody of this department.

Yet, this is only a fraction of the inscriptions in the state that have been published. Despite several painstaking efforts in epigraphy , including by foreign scholars, the sad part is various universities and Tamil scholars show no interest in inscriptions.

Temple authorities forget these are treasure troves of history . They focus on deities neglecting temple history .

For instance, a team of epigraphists and photographers associated with the French government's Ecole Francaise de Extreme Orient visited the Mangaipagar temple in Piranmalai, Trichy district, several times between 2009 and 2014 to find new inscriptions and check on those published in the past. But the priest refused to let them enter despite the experts explaining that they wanted to read a Kulothunga Chozhan inscription of late 11th century . During the fourth visit, a new priest had taken over and he let the team in. The experts found that the inscriptions had been hidden under a coat of sandalwood paste ­ `Santhanakappu.' Under the garb of renovation, masons, who have little idea of history , paint temples and re-arrange stones carrying inscriptions with no regard for their continuity. At Senthalai temple in Tiruvaiyarure gion of Thanjavur, the masons who under took the work had thrown the order of inscriptions out of gear by not putting the stone blocks back where they originally belonged.
Trained epigraphists should revisit such renovated temples to ensure that the inscriptions in grantha and devanagiri scripts are in order.

In fact, the Archaeological Survey of India and the state archaeological department should jointly undertake a massive epigraphic project. A team should visit all temples in the state to ensure that inscriptions that have been already published are in order.
Such visits would also reveal hidden histories that have remained unknown so far.

(The author is a socio-political activist and writer)

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Jul 21 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Norms ignored, big bldg projects okayed
 
 
 

EXPERTS QUESTION HOUSING MINISTRY MAKING EXEMPTIONS FOR SPECIFIC PROJECTS OVERRIDING CMDA EXPERTISE

The government had relaxed CMDA norms for the Moulivakkam building, which recently collapsed and killed 61 people, through two government orders prior to construction. The relaxation relating to setback and road width requirements may have had little impact on the structural safety of the building, but experts question the practice of the urban development ministry overriding building construction norms. They say that successive governments have curbed the powers of Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), which gives approvals for new building projects.

The approval files of most multi-storeyed buildings are sent to the government secretariat.

For instance, in the last one year, more than 40 multi-storeyed projects were approved through government orders relaxing norms. Experts question the logic behind the practice of such government orders before construction while CMDA is the technical body tasked with approving such projects. “No official in the housing and urban development department at the secretariat is technically qualified to give an opinion on the building plans and designs or to give technical advice to CMDA. They why is the government insisting on this practice?” asks a planner at the CMDA.

Geetha Ramakrishnan, social activist and advisor to the unorganized workers federation, too questions this practice. “When there are already hundreds of illegal structures, the government should explain why separate orders are being issued for individual projects before the construction itself,” she said. “Moreover, the vice chairman and the member secretary of CMDA should realize that every relaxation and special consideration they extend to the builders endangers the lives of the people,” she added.

Presently, CMDA evaluates projects based on the approval of two professionals – the licensed structural engineer and the architect. But the planning body deals primarily with land use and impact on livelihood, with little technical expertise to follow up on the engineering aspects.

“Other cities have a system in which the project plan is verified by town planners, civil and structural engineers, and landscape experts,” said K M Sadhanandh, an expert in town planning.

Town planners have submitted a proposal to make the building approval process more comprehensive. But the government has so far ignored the proposed Tamil Nadu Common Building Rules for Urban and Local Bodies, said Sadhanandh, who added that all the building contractors should be registered.

Existing rules also demand that the structural engineer and architect should submit quarterly reports to CMDA about the construction and any deviations from the approved plan. “But in many projects, the role of the licensed engineers and architects is limited to merely putting signatures for a fee. The actual planning, design and construction are executed by mostly diploma holders appointed by the builder,” said a structural engineer with the city corporation.

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Jul 21 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Stop orders issued during site inspection
 
 
 

CMDA OFFICIALS NOTE VIOLATIONS BUT ARE NOT COMPETENT TO ASSESS STRUCTURAL STABILITY

The structural safety of many multi-storey buildings under construction in Chennai metropolitan area may be a question mark with the planning agency, CMDA, identifying major deviations from approved structural plans in six high-rise buildings.

The deviations in buildings — ranging from relocation of reinforced concrete columns to totally doing away with some columns — came to light during the intensive construction site inspection being carried out by the planners of the regulatory agency over the last two weeks. “We have issued notices to the builders concerned to stop work forthwith,” said a senior official in Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA). It may be recalled that the ill-fated 12-storey Moulivakkam building that collapsed had also done away with critical concrete columns to create more car parking space. Ultimately the beams crumbled owing to the heavy load mounted on them.

The 19 CMDA teams assigned for the task of carrying out inspections have so far covered 100 high-rise buildings and 165 low-rise buildings out of the 700 buildings, both constructed and under construction, shortlisted for scrutiny in the first phase. “Our teams have identified six major deviations and 42 minor deviations. It may be too early to stamp these buildings structurally weak and unsafe because our officials who inspected them are not competent to assess their structural stability. They have only

noticed deviations from the original approved drawings. Since the structural engineers engaged by the builders concerned could have approved the deviations (presuming that they were involved at every stage of construction), we have asked the builders to get second opinion from other approved structural engineers,“ said the official.

Builders' body , Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Association of India (CREDAI) has already asked its members to get revised structural drawings from engineers for buildings that had deviated from the CMDA approved plan.
CREDAI Chennai president Ajit Kumar Chordia said his organization welcomed peer review by external agencies at every stage of construction. “It will be good if CMDA makes peer review by competent structural engineers at every stage of construction mandatory . But total compliance of approved structural drawings does not guarantee that the building is safe. Also, deviations from approved structural drawings do not make buildings unsafe as long as the builder does that with technical guidance. One of the reasons for deviations from structural drawings could be CMDA officials suggesting changes in the drawings,“ said Chordia.

 
 
 
 
 


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Jul 21 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
`Agency not up to mark, need a body with more experts'
 
 
 
 
The government has not called the meeting of the high court-appointed monitoring committee looking at building violations in the last one and half years. In the wake of building collapses and accidents in the city, retired IAS officer and the senior member of the monitoring committee, M G D e v a s a h ay a m , t e l l s A ru n Janardhanan there should be a complete revamp of the system. I feel that investigations launched into the building collapse by different agencies are unlikely to trigger remedial action. Much before the investigations started, those who are heading the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) had declared that they haven't committed any mistake in the approval of the collapsed building. The judge heading the one-man commission will be seeking help from the same government agencies and departments that are under the scanner for viola tions. The Special Investigation Team probe is also a matter of concern as it would do a typical crime investigation instead of looking at scientific aspects.

But CMDA has the powers and autonomy of a statutory body.

CMDA has been subjugated by successive governments for several years. Forgetting the statutory pow ers, it has ended up as a mere centre processing government orders. It is high time we stopped the practice of getting final approvals for multi storeyed buildings from the s e c re t a r i at . T h e CMDA building ap proval committee has the experts and professionals to take decisions on such technical matters.

What is the way forward?
It is impossible to trace details of violations as there are multiple files at CMDA for each project by different officials. A recommendation to digitize the CMDA documents has been kept in abeyance as nobody wants to make the system transparent and clean. Moreover, CMDA, which has specialised in planning, has no expertise in engineering. They have often failed in enforcement also. It is high time that we dissolved CMDA and created a body involving professionals including engineering experts to monitor urban development projects.

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Jul 22 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Tower collapse erodes buyers' trust in builders
Chennai:
 
 
 

Survey Shows 87% Wary Of Construction Quality

The collapse of a 12storey building under construction at Moulivakkam last month has severely dented the sentiments of home buyers and their trust in realty sector, said a survey conducted by realty portal.

The survey carried out by Indiaproperty .com across several metros and smaller cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune between July 9 and 14 said that about 87% of the respondents, out of a sample size of 899, were apprehensive about the quality of construction. Moreover, about 62% of people living in apartments face everyday issues like water seepage owing to low quality construction, said Ganesh Vasudevan, CEO of the portal.

The awareness about the Moulivakkam disaster was as high as 90% among the respondents though 58% of the people covered in the survey were from outside Tamil Nadu. A majority of the people felt it's not only small developers who do substandard work, but even some big builders who are guilty of such practices.

Reasons for poor quality construction, in public perception, ranged from corruption in the approval process to lack of adequate skilled workforce.
In the wake of raw material prices going up, builders and contractors compromised on quality to cut costs, people felt.
Builders also sublet work to multiple contractors to reduce overheads, they said.

About 40% of respondents were in the 25-35 age group and about 34% were above 46 years of age. Males accounted for 86% of the respondents.

In the wake of the disaster, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority , the main planning agency in the city , had sought to save its skin by maintaining it was not its job to ensure structural stability of buildings. But the survey showed that the public have a different take on the issue.
About 43% held the government responsible for the builder not following the approved plan. Only 39% felt it was the job of the builder alone to conform to the approved design.

Stringent measures like continuous site inspections by approved engineers at various stages of construction, strengthening the regulatory agency to carry out frequent site inspections, speeding up investigation and trial in the building collapse case, prosecuting the builder and contractors for mass murder, imposing hefty penalty on builders for faulty construction and cancelling licence of such builders could rein in reckless builders, people felt. A majority of them (59%) said an independent certifying agency should be set up to check quality of construction.

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Jul 22 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
TPG Cap may invest Rs 900cr in Manipal Health
Mumbai/Bangalore:
TNN
 
 
 
Private equity giant TPG Capital is in advanced talks to invest up to $150 million (Rs 900 crore) for a minority stake in Manipal Health Enterprises (MHE). The investment is expected to fuel the Bangalore-based hospital chain's expansion plans, people directly familiar with the matter told TOI.

MHE operates over 5,000 beds through 15 hospitals across 11 locations, counting itself among India's top three healthcare services providers. Two years ago, India Value Fund Advisors (IVFA) acquired a minority stake in the company , which plans to double its existing bed count as a part of the company's ongoing expansion.

Manipal had then received Rs 500 crore from IVFA and had the option of raising an almost equal amount from the same investor by March 2014. The healthcare chain could have raised the money if it struck an acquisition deal or had other significant capital deployment opportunities within the timeline, aclause which has since lapsed.

Multiple private equity biggies, including General Atlantic Partners, have had discussions with MHE, but TPG Capital has emerged as a clear frontrunner, sources mentioned earlier in this report said. Last year, leading private equity Carlyle Group picked up a 27% stake in Medanta Medcity Hospital for Rs 960 crore in a similar large-sized healthcare deal.

The MHE healthcare network is part of the billionaire Ranjan Pai-led Manipal Education & Medical Group (MEMG), which has education services and hospitals as its core businesses. The 41-year-old Pai, with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion, wants to expand the healthcare unit aggressively , stepping into newer geographies and business verticals.

When contacted, Manipal Health Enterprises and TPG Capital declined to comment.

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Jul 29 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
RECORD SELLING RATE FOR LOCALITY - Builder bags plot in Boat Club for Rs 105cr
Chennai
TNN
 
 
 
City-based builder Ravi Appaswamy has finalized a deal to buy a prime residential plot measuring 9.5 grounds (one ground is 2,400 sqft) in Boat Club, the abode of the super rich, in Chennai for close to ` `105 crore, setting a new benchmark for realty prices in the locality.

Viju Mahtaney of Ambattur Clothing, owner of the land, had picked up the property in 2003 for about ` `10 crore from another city-based builder, Ceebros. The land was up for sale for some time.

Recently, Mahtaney engaged international realty consultant Jones Lang LaSalle to identify a buyer.

“The deal was in the pipeline for close to a month and financial closure is expected to

be over in the next couple of days,” a source said. Both Ravi Appaswamy and Viju Mahtaney could not be reached for comments.

The previous highest price in Boat Club was ` `10 crore per ground, paid by an international jewellery group to an industrialist.

Coming in the midst of a real

ty slump, Viju-Ravi deal has once again reinforced Boat Club's prominence as an aspirational address. Both the buyer and seller are residents of Boat Club.

Another land parcel of nearly one acre, owned by Ashok Leyland, in Boat Club is also on the block. “Till recently , Leyland was negotiating the deal.
Hinduja realty division has now taken over the land, but the owners are yet to identify a buyer,“ a source said.

Chennai has witnessed more than `2,600 crore worth high-value transactions in the past 18 months. In terms of overall cost, the highest transaction till now is Xander, the largest foreign investor in Indian realty assets, investing `690 crore in Shriram Property's IT SEZ in Perungalathur.

Landmark Builders bought 14.16 acres from erstwhile Binny Mills for `490 crore, Ceebros bought Atlantic Hotel for `165 crore and Viceroys Hotels for `480 crore, VGN bought 1.43 acres in Nungambakkam from Tata Communications for `195 crore and 10 acres in Guindy from Hindustan Teleprinters for `272 crore and Sugal and Damani Foundation purchased 8.6 acres of land in Padi from biscuit maker Britannia for `172 crore.

 
 
 


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Jul 28 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Inspection drive finds bldgs with major deviations
Chennai:
 
 
 
 
The Moulivakkam building collapse that killed 61 people may not have brought any immediate change in the city's building construction and approval systems. But the collapse has forced the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) to launch an inspection drive which has found at least 65 buildings with construction violations and another 60 with minor deviations. In the last two weeks, about five buildings under construction were served stop work notices.

A senior CMDA official said out of 700 buildings to be inspected, they have checked around 200. “In the absence of an effective enforcement system of building rules, several buildings were found with major deviations from the plan approved by CMDA.
Buildings currently caught for deviations from the plan were served notices. Their completion certificates will be withheld until they comply with norms,“ he said.

Officials said 700 buildings is the target of only the first part of the inspection drive. “Ideally , the government should appoint a professional agency , hiring independent experts to look at the issue. A scientific system should be evolved to cover all buildings under the inspection drive,“ said a senior CMDA planner.

Also, insiders in CMDA point out the large number of pending charges and vigilance inquiries on tainted officials. “Besides taking action against senior planners and the building approval committee members against whom charges have been proved, corruption charges alleged on CMDA's legal wing also should be probed,“ an official said.

A petition to the vigilance officials demanded a probe against a senior CMDA official and a university professor based in city for taking bribes from public and private sector institutions to give clean chits to illegal buildings without considering their structural safety .

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Jul 28 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
HC upholds circular permitting registrar to cancel land deeds
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
The Madras high court has upheld the legality of a government circular which permits registrars to annul or cancel land documents registered by deceit, saying constitutional, statutory or administrative authorities possess the power to recall judgements/orders obtained by fraudulent means.

Justice T Raja, upholding the April 17, 2012 circular and dismissing a batch of writ petitions against it, said, “If it is held that the registering authorities have no power to annul an earlier document, such an interpretation would lead to perilous implications harming public interest and public policy by allowing the fraudulent transactions to take place lavishly behind the back of innocent land owners.“ The judge was passing orders on writ petitions which challenged the legality of the circular and sought reversal of cancellations of registered documents by various registrars. They said the circular had set in motion an illegality and that it conferred omnibus powers upon registration officials any document on the basis of their own subjective satisfaction.

The circular also displaces the authority of civil and criminal courts in adjudicating disputed questions of title between rival claimants, thereby vests the judicial power in an executive authority .

The government justified the circular saying it was necessitated in view of the increase in landrelated crimes and that in many cases those affected had to sell properties for pittance.



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Aug 02 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
TIPS FOR SELLING YOUR PROPERTY, IN THE FAST LANE
 
 
 

Wish to sell your property in the open market?
Follow these simple tips and do it with ease

In India, currently, there is more supply than the actual demand in certain segments of real estate. In such a situation, selling off your property for profit or at the amount that you have in mind, is rather difficult. The basics of making profits in the real estate industry is to purchase the property when the market is at a low and sell it when the prices have gone up, thus, making a good profit out of it.

However, this market is totally unpredictable and no one can predict which way the deal will turn.

Such situations make it reasonably important that you should always have knowledge of the current market situation. It's understandable that it is not always possible to be up-to

date with information about the pricing, rules, legalities, etc., especially, if the property owner is either a working professional or an NRI who wants to sell the property for profits. Here are some tips and suggestions that will be of help while selling the property.

Finding a very good real estate agent: In India, most of them work the traditional way they charge a commission fee, payable after sale but in return, they save you time and stress by actively promoting your property and the hassle of dealing with would-be buyers. Now, to get the best real estate agent, you will have to do some work and research, ask around, check testimonials among other things, such as fees, their track record. Once you have finalised on the agent, keep

a check by staying in regular contact, asking for progress reports and making sure they are getting prospective buyers in.

Property valuation: Fixing the right price for your property is crucial.

You can self-assess or resort to an external source for determining it's worth.

There can be various factors associated with pricing such as a viable environment, utility of the project in the future, location, infrastructure and civic amenities, other than the market situation. If all these areas are taken care of while preparing for selling the property, it will help you place your property in the right price bracket and that too, in a short span of time.

Know and listen to the market: Listen to the ground realities. It's a basic rule that as a seller one

must understand and follow.

Finding a prospective buyer: Advertising in newspapers, websites, or contacting professional brokers or even word-of-mouth, can help you identify/find the potential purchaser. It is equally important to check the credentials of the purchaser in terms of his background, financial capabilities and reliability.

Legalities: Communicate to the governing body; get a no objection certificate (NOC) and then proceed with legal documentation.

Get the property registered under the provisions of the Indian Registration Act.

Selling a home in a fluctuating market, requires a little extra work. Do everything you can to get the property in excellent shape and be prepared to make some small concessions at closing.

These tips, coupled with an attractive price, will increase the odds of getting your property sold.

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 Aug 02 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Illegal buildings of engg college sealed
Coimbatore
TIMES NEWS NETWORK TNN
 
 

Coimbatore Institution Did Not Get Nod For Constructing Buildings In Hill Region

Officials of the Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP), Coimbatore region, sealed an administrative building and the office of the college principal at Indus College of Engineering at Kalimangalam near Alandurai in Coimbatore district on Friday morning.

The college management had not got DTCP approval to construct the buildings and did not have no-objection certificates from forest department and Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA). The officials were asked to not to seal the academic buildings though all the structures are illegal.

The college has a girls’ hostel (two-storied building), a boys’ hostel, three academic blocks and a kitchen. The total constructed area covers 1.56 lakh sqft and the college is located on 17.45 acres.

K Mookaiah, deputy director (in-charge), DTCP , Coimbatore region, said, “The college management built the structure without DTCP approval. It is an illegal building. We issued a notice to the college management last year. Instead of ap proaching us, they went to the Madras high court, which dismissed their petition.” He added that the college management was given enough time to get approval as well as NOC from the forest department and HACA. As many as 694 students are studying in the college, doing BE and MBA courses. The college was set up in 2008. DTCP sent them notices in 2008, 2012 and 2013 to get the required approval. “We got no-objection certificates from the agriculture, mines, geology, PWD and revenue department. We have to get NOC from forest department.

After we get the forest department NOC, we will approach HACA for final approval. We have appointed special officers to get approval from DTCP,” said L Moorthy, public relations officer, Indus College of Engineering. He added that the college management had got approval from the local panchayat.

72 colleges get lock-and-seal notices

Coimbatore: The Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) has issued notices to 72 educational institutions in Coimbatore, Tirupur and Nilgiris districts for constructing buildings without approval and started lock and seal action. The buildings will be demolished if their owners do not get approval from the authority in 30 days. “A number of educational institutions do not have approval from DTCP. We are concerned about the students and so urge educational institutions to come forward to get approval immediately,“ said Archana Patnaik, collector, Coimbatore district.

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Aug 01 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Spell out plan to tackle bldg violations, court tells state
Chennai:
 
 
 

CBI Probe Sought Into Collapse At Moulivakkam

Five weeks after a 12-storey building collapsed at Moulivakkam killing 61 people, the Madras high court on Thursday directed the Tamil Nadu government to submit a “comprehensive action plan“ to handle such construction violations.

The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, gave the interim direction when a petition seeking CBI probe into the tragedy as well as build ing law violations in Chennai and other cities in Tamil Nadu came up for hearing.

Making it clear that it would not be possible for courts to take over the functions of municipal authorities, the judges said courts could only goad them to perform their statutory duty .

The issue of development control rule violations and illegal buildings is one messy maze, which no judicial or social intervention has been able to sort out so far. Chennai's T Nagar, Purasawalkam, NSC Bose Road, Mint and George Town areas are full of such multi-storeyed commercial complexes which escaped the sledgehammer despite at least three judgments quashing as many `one-time exemptions' granted by the government. Though a concerted drive finally began in November 2011, when the corporation sealed 25 establishments in T Nagar, they managed to reopen due to a Supreme Court order. They are still open, thanks to judicial interventions.

The high court formed a monitoring committee comprising experts to keep tabs on compliance of development control rules, but it has not met for 18 months. Even earlier its role remained recommendatory in nature. The court's bid to affix responsibility on CMDA officials met with little success, as the enforcement agency ignored a 2012 direction to take action against 31 officers found to have allowed violations.

The debate surrounding building law violations revived after the Moulivakkam collapse. It was in these cir cumstances that activist K R `Traffic' Ramaswamy filed a petition for a CBI probe, not just against the violators but also the officials who failed to monitor progress of buildings for which approvals had been issued by civic agencies.

He said highrises are allowed to come up in narrow lanes in north Chennai localities like Sowcarpet. T Nagar is a hotbed of large-scale violations. The civic body sealed just 93 buildingsbetween 2009 and 2014.

On Thursday , the first bench said: “The petitioner appearing in person seeks to raise a larger issue of unauthorised constructions in practically every township of Tamil Nadu. We call upon the advocate general to suggest means and modes by which there could be monitoring and checks and balances.“ It then adjourned the matter to August 28 for further hearing.

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Aug 01 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Corpn to reclaim OSR land taken for private use
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
The city corporation will soon take action against flat owners and builders in the city who have violated open space reservation (OSR) rules. It will reclaim all OSR land being put to private use, mayor Saidai S Duraisamy said.

Corporation officials are checking OSR data from Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority , the mayor said at a corporation council meet on Thursday.

According to CMDA rules, developers of complexes of 3,000sqm to 10,000sq m should set aside 10% of the land for parks or playgrounds and hand over gift deeds of the properties to the corporation through CMDA.

Duraisamy said data provided by the CMDA on OSR violations “will be placed in the next council meeting.“ “Between 1991 and 2006, the corporation set up 161 parks in the city and betweens 2006 and 2011 it set up 99 more,“ he said.

The mayor said several land owners violated OSR rules. The civic body will conduct a massive verification exercise to ensure such land is not encroached upon.

He said 100 parks were planned in 2012-13, of which 91 were completed. In 2013-14, the corporation proposed 100 parks and completed 28. Another 100 parks were proposed during 2014-15.

Construction activities are not permitted on OSR land but the corporation could consider amending the rules to set up civic offices on such land for the benefit of the public, the mayor said.

Sources say people are using OSR land for private purposes because lack of records prevents checks.

In 2012, CMDA reacquired two pieces of land in Kotturpuram and Saidapet and handed them over to the civic body but later got stuck in legal wrangles.

The civic body reacquired a 32-ground plot in Saidapet worth `45 crore to set up a school, but the original owner went to court and sold it while the ownership was being contested. The corporation retrieved the property after a deal with the new owner.

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 Aug 01 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Bid to affix responsibility on CMDA been unsuccessful
Chennai:
 
 
 
 
Five weeks after a 12-storey building collapsed at Moulivakkam killing 61 people, the Madras high court on Thursday directed the Tamil Nadu government to submit a “comprehensive action plan“ to handle such construction violations.

The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, gave the interim direction when a petition seeking CBI probe into the tragedy as well as build ing law violations in Chennai and other cities in Tamil Nadu came up for hearing.

Making it clear that it would not be possible for courts to take over the functions of municipal authorities, the judges said courts could only goad them to perform their statutory duty .

The issue of development control rule violations and illegal buildings is one messy maze, which no judicial or social intervention has been able to sort out so far. Chennai's T Nagar, Purasawalkam, NSC Bose Road, Mint and George Town areas are full of such multi-storeyed commercial complexes which escaped the sledgehammer despite at least three judgments quashing as many `one-time exemptions' granted by the government. Though a concerted drive finally began in November 2011, when the corporation sealed 25 establishments in T Nagar, they managed to reopen due to a Supreme Court order. They are still open, thanks to judicial interventions.

The high court formed a monitoring committee comprising experts to keep tabs on compliance of development control rules, but it has not met for 18 months. Even earlier its role remained recommendatory in nature. The court's bid to affix responsibility on CMDA officials met with little success, as the enforcement agency ignored a 2012 direction to take action against 31 officers found to have allowed violations.

The debate surrounding building law violations revived after the Moulivakkam collapse. It was in these cir cumstances that activist K R `Traffic' Ramaswamy filed a petition for a CBI probe, not just against the violators but also the officials who failed to monitor progress of buildings for which approvals had been issued by civic agencies.

He said highrises are allowed to come up in narrow lanes in north Chennai localities like Sowcarpet. T Nagar is a hotbed of large-scale violations. The civic body sealed just 93 buildingsbetween 2009 and 2014.

On Thursday , the first bench said: “The petitioner appearing in person seeks to raise a larger issue of unauthorised constructions in practically every township of Tamil Nadu. We call upon the advocate general to suggest means and modes by which there could be monitoring and checks and balances.“ It then adjourned the matter to August 28 for further hearing.

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Jul 31 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Revenue rises but land deals in TN hit a seven-year low
Chennai
 
 
 
 
Land deals in Tamil Nadu have hit a sevenyear low, mirroring the tough phase that the real estate industry is going through.

A policy note tabled in the assembly on Wednesday shows that the number of transactions dipped for the second consecutive year in 2013-14, after hitting an alltime high of 35 lakh two years ago. There were 26.53 lakh land deals during the last financial year, compared to 26.9 lakh the previous year.

 

Barring Chennai and Thanjavur, the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu where farmers are selling their land to real estate promoters due to an unpredictable monsoon, all other districts witnessed a fall in transactions. While Madurai, Tirunelveli and Cuddalore witnessed a steep fall, Vellore, Coimbatore and Trichy recorded a moderate decrease. The real estate business remained active in Chennai, with 4.96 lakh properties changing hands, especially in areas like Old Mamallapuram Road, Grand Southern Trunk

Road and Bangalore Highway (NH4).

Experts say the drop comes in the backdrop of a revision in guideline value of properties in 2012. Guideline value is the rate fixed by the government for a piece of land, and it is done to prevent undervaluing of a property.

 

The buyer has to pay stamp duty and registration charges based on the guideline value. Since April 2012, the government is levying a charge of 8% of the property value on each transaction, which includes 5% stamp duty, 2% transfer duty and a registration fee of 1%.

 

The increase in guideline value and duty has ensured

that despite a fall in transactions, the government earned a record revenue of ` `8,055.74 crore in 2013-14.

“There is stagnation in land deals across the state.

 

People tend to wait and watch for any correction in guideline value. The value of land under each survey number is revised based on local indices. It is practical in some areas, impractical in others,” said CREDAI Tamil Nadu chapter president N Nandakumar. While inflation is hitting a new high each passing day, it did not reflect in the capital value of land, he said.

 

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Jul 31 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Rot within weakens bldg regulator
 
 
 
Experts Want Independent Probe Into Allegations Of Irregularities In Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority
With a number of high-profile projects executed by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) itself coming under scrutiny following allegations of corruption and irregularities, urban development experts and a section of officials have demanded a probe by an independent agency , instead of an internal investigation by the enforcement agency's finance wing.

Citing the fate of more than a dozen similar internal probes in the past which allowed corrupt officials to go scot-free, experts have also demanded immediate implementation of the Madras high court's 2006 order directing CMDA to take action against illegal buildings and officers responsible for failure to enforce rules.

CMDA ordered an internal probe two weeks ago after a junior engineer wrote a letter alleging corruption and explaining how he himself was party to several irregularities. He sent the letter after the Moulivakkam building collapse that killed 61 people.

The probe by a finance officer in CMDA will look at the role of three senior engineers named in the letter. It will also look at multicrore projects, including the storm water drain network in Koyambedu and Manjambakkam truck terminal, which was in augurated by CM J Jayalalithaa last February .

A senior official said a probe into the storm water drain project would be a tough task because of its scale -the project covered the entire Koyambedu market and surrounding places up to the metro rail construction site. “The probe should look at whether adequate steel reinforcements were used. The allegation was that only a single layer of reinforcement was used instead of the required double layer,“ the official said.

In the `22 crore Manjambakkam project, the probe would look at allegations that the foundation was laid using earth instead of gravel, which has reportedly led to cracks. “Structural safety as well as the alleged revision of estimate from `6 lakh to `14 lakh for construction of an arch would also be probed,“ said the official.

However, some officials have raised concerns about the internal probe as those investigating the matter were also facing corruption charges. “Ideally , an independent agency should probe the matter. There is no point in asking a tainted official to probe another. It is a systematic corruption that we see here. Structural safety of many projects is being compromised,“ a senior member of the HC-appointed monitoring committee said. An official said in many projects, earth (mud) is used instead of gravel because mud costs only `200 per cubic metre while gravel costs `500.

One of the executive engineers named in the letter was also in charge of the construction of Tower II building, an annex of CMDA headquarters, which was found to have major structural flaws in pile foundation and the construction was stopped for six months. A Karthik, member secretary of CMDA, said the entire matter was under inquiry . “Can't reveal anything now,“ he said.

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Jul 31 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
COURT WANTED ACTION - HC orders ignored, erring officials let off
 
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
Two years ago, the Madras high court asked the Chennai Metro politan Development Authority (CMDA) to take action against 31 officials, including four IAS officers, who were found to have allowed building violations and irregularities. But no action has been taken so far.

The HC directive came in the wake of the enforcement agency's failure to implement a 2006 order which directed action against illegal buildings and erring officials. In 2006, the HC also appointed a monitoring committee comprising experts to look into violations of building regulations. But, for the last one-and-a-half years, CMDA has not convened a meeting despite committee members sending notices.

While CMDA continues to ignore cru cial orders from the HC, officials blame its legal wing for lack of action. “For instance, the legal wing did not even file affidavits explaining why tainted officials are protected. At one point, the court asked for the names of these officials. There was evidence against 31 officials to show that they were part of a nexus behind illegal con structions. But they were not punished and some of them have left the service without facing any action,“ a senior CMDA official said. More than a dozen major violations, including illegal constructions in T Nagar, were ignored, he said.

CMDA's indifference to court directions and the functioning of the monitoring committee amounted to contempt of court, said a senior member of the committee. After the recent Moulivakkam building collapse, members of the monitoring committee asked the government to convene an emergency meeting within a week to discuss the situation. The government is yet to reply to the letter sent on July 7. The monitoring committee last met on January 4, 2013, when the members opposed the government's plans to regularise hundreds of illegal buildings.

CMDA planned to appoint inquiry officers from outside the department to probe corruption, building violations and irregularities. But the plan never took off.
Lack of transparency is also being cited as a reason why officials escape after committing irregularities. “Procedural lapses, severe shortage of officials and hundreds of pending files also play a role in this chaotic system,“ said a senior planner.

 
 
 


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Jul 31 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
INDUSTRY HOPES FOR `CORRECTIONS' - Buyers have not shown interest in state over past 2 years
Chennai:
 
 
 
 
There has been a general restraint when it comes to buying land in the past two years, officials say.

Following appeals from the public over disparities in guideline value, the government revised the value of 22,600 survey numbers since 2012. “But the government has to reanalyse each survey number. The revision has resulted in government losing revenue, from development and infrastructure charges to premi um FSI,“ Akshaya Homes Private Ltd chairman and CEO T Chitty Babu said. The state has 3.97 crore survey numbers.

While industry and pro spective buyers are hoping for `corrections' at the sell ers' end, the state has decided not to revise the value this year.

Commercial taxes and regis tration minister M C Sampath told the assembly on Wednesday that government's valuation committee decided not to conduct the annual revision of guideline value for 2014.

“Our revenue projection from registration of documents for the current fiscal is `10,145 crore,“ he said.



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