Year 2019 saw some milestones being crossed which will have far reaching impact in years to come. However, year ended with a tragedy just as it had happened in 2017. That apart, some more highlights of year 2019 are given below in the concluding part of ‘In Retrospect’:
India’s first REIT issue
Embassy Office Parks, the owner of a high quality office portfolio in India, listed the first REIT (Real estate investment trust) in India on the stock exchanges in March this year, thus crossing another milestone. REITs operate almost like a mutual fund by pooling funds from investors and investing them in real estate assets. REIT can help to pool money from all investors across the country. The SEBI board has kept the minimum asset sizes to be invested in at Rs 500 crores to ensure that only well established players will float REITs. However, after the initial euphoria the concept of REIT hasn’t taken off to the level expected and Embassy offer was not followed by any other REITs in the market during the year.
Revamp of CPWD
During the year restructuring of the Central Public Works Department was completed. A study on the ‘Working and Reorganisation of Central Public Works Department (CPWD)’ was undertaken through Ernst & Young (EY) in 2017 with the objective of studying the working of CPWD keeping in view its mandate and functions, carrying out an analysis of the structure and organisation of CPWD, suggesting measures for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation.
Under this mega restructuring exercise CPWD has been provided with digital systems to monitor projects real-time and assess performance of staff online. Also, Regional Planning and Design Centres in all five regions of Central Public Works Department (CPWD) across the country have been set up to cater to the need of design requirements.
NBCC takes lead in completing stalled projects
NBCC, a PSU realtor, is playing a leading role in completing the stalled private sector real estate projects. In August, the Apex court had directed NBCC (India) to undertake completion of the stalled/incomplete projects of Amrapali Group of Companies at Noida & Greater Noida. Accordingly, the company has moved ahead and at the fag end of the year the company has started the process of appointing the contractors for the project. Further, in December, NBCC emerged as the clear winner to acquire the embattled realty firm Jaypee Infratech. This move is hoped to bring relief to nearly 22,000 homebuyers stuck with incomplete homes.
Special window for stalled projects
Consequent to the ‘Mini Budget’ proposal in September, the government has set up a ‘Special Window’ fund to provide priority debt financing for the completion of stalled housing projects that are in the Affordable and Middle-Income Housing segment. For the purposes of the fund, the government shall act as the Sponsor and the total commitment to be infused by the Government would be upto Rs 10,000 crore. The fund will be set up as a Category-11 AIF (Alternate Investment Fund) debt fund registered with SEBI and would be professionally run. This fund would provide relief to developers who require funding to complete a set of unfinished projects and consequently ensure delivery of homes to the home-buyers.
Land pooling in Delhi
A total of 6,071 applications were received on the web-portal through which 6,409.60 Hectare of land were registered for expression of willingness to participate in Land Pooling Policy (LPP). Incidentally, 06.09.2019 was the last date for receipt of applications. However, response is little disappointing as land pooling policy was announced last year with an intention to pool about 22,000 hectares of land which could meet the needs of about 95 lakh people.
Five-star hotel at Pragati Maidan
A 5-star hotel will be a part of the Pragati Maidan redevelopment plan. The Union Cabinet has approved the plan and has authorised India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) to transfer 3.7 acres of land at Pragati Maidan on a 99 year fixed leasehold basis at a price of Rs. 611 crore in favour of the SPV, to be formed by India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for development and operation of a five-star hotel.
Smog tower in Delhi
A project to create a huge air purifier tower in the capital has been planned. A proposal titled “Project for Demonstrating the Feasibility of Reducing Air Pollution Exposure in Urban Area by Using Large Scale Cleaning System” was submitted by Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) for control of air pollution under EPC (Environment Protection Charge) funds, and the project aims to develop and deploy large scale air purifying system named Adaptive Clean Air Network (ACAN). The project was examined by the Expert Panel of Department of Science and Technology. The project has been recommended as pilot demonstration for one experimental tower in Delhi.
Another Building catches fire
Year 2019 ended in a tragedy as another building in the National Capital caught fire causing more than 40 deaths. As usual, the fire tragedy was followed by blame game between state and central governments and also between various departments. However, some town planners have also pointed out that it’s the amendment to the Master Plan of Delhi (MPD)-2021 which relaxed norms for household industries as the main reason for recurring fire accidents happening in the buildings. Solutions are always there but what we lack is the will power.