Saturday, May 2, 2015

Open Letter to Hon CM by a Middle Class Builder!

Hon. CM Sir

Supply always comes on the heels of demand….
Robert Collier

Robert Collier was an American author of self-help, and New Thought metaphysical books in the 20th century. He was involved in writing, editing, and research for most of his life. His book The Secret of the Ages (1926) was best seller. Collier wrote about the practical psychology of abundance, desire, faith, visualization, confident action, and personal development. And one must be wondering what a builder has to do with an authors quote famous for self help writing, agreed days are bad but not that bad for the real estate & certainly as per our Hon. CM, builders are doing good rather more than good & I am sure as usual our “Mai Baap Janata” will agree to what Hon. CM thinks when it’s about builders. Well without stretching curiosity of the readers in a recent meet arranged by builders only in Mumbai, Hon. CM made a comment or statement which does made headlines & I am sharing those words here (I wasn’t present in the meet but these are the words whatever has been printed in media); “Why builders need any discounts in any policy? Has ever any builder passed his profits to the common man? Why should Govt favor builders? Whenever any builder comes to meet me he only asks for more favors from us i.e. rulers! I appeal all builders to think of making affordable homes first, enough of favors! Wow, “Talia Talia Talia” i.e. applauds by everyone except poor builders, though I know as per many the term poor builder doesn’t exists yet I have used it, not as I am one such but the state in which real estate is has made me say so! Not that the Hon. CM was totally out of his senses & said so neither I disagree that builders are not Raja Harishchandra who went out of the way for charity but then tell me who is Harishchandra in today’s world? This doesn’t mean one should not try to become one but being hungry by oneself one can’t expected to feed others! Here I remember a nice story about communism which I will share….(no hard feelings for communism, it’s just an age old story)
One hard core communists was trying to explain concept of communism to a poor farmer, listen brother had you got two homes would you not parted with one for your poor friend who is homeless? The farmer replied yes I would have! Delighted the party member asked had you not given your tractor to your neighbor farmer if you have got two tractors. The farmer again agreed & said yes he would have! Thinking he has made his point the guy asked would you not have given the shirt you wearing if you had two shirts, to you friend who is shirtless? On this the farmer said no mister I wouldn’t have given my shirt! On the party member was surprised & asked that he was agreeing to depart with a home & a tractor so why not a shirt? On the farmer replied, look mister I have got one shirt only!

Well the story says all, you can share only what you have in virtual state; agreed it’s not about communism we are referring but when Hon. CM expects the builders to share the profit & build affordable homes for the needy common man then it’s high time to look in the actual scene in real estate! Also Hon. CM feels every builder in town is asking some favor from Govt instead focusing on the job at their hand which is building homes for the needy common men in the society! Again agreed housing is the biggest lacuna of modern India & especially State like Maharashtra which is fast becoming urban! But does a home mean just four walls & a roof on it? Well a home is much more than that & unfortunately Hon. CM seems to have mistaken the definition of a home! Here will like to share something with Hon. CM at very personal level; Mr.Devendra Fadanavis, a very promising & young CM of our State is from a typical middle class family & it’s this class which is in dire need of a decent home. Because a super rich can buy his home as per his wish with the money power he has & whereas a super poor adjusts himself even of footpath! So it’s the middle class person who has nowhere to go for his shelter! But CM sir I myself also come from the same middle class from which you have been raised & I have seen my parents struggling for every single bag of cement while they were building our so called bungalow at a small town named Khamgaon in Vidrabha near Nagpur, again from the region from where you are also from! So we both knows what it takes for a middle class family to have home of their own. And where my destiny has taken me to become a builder by myself in city like Pune & it’s your destiny that you have become CM, the top most post any person can aspire in the State & then you only head Urban Development, which is like Supreme Court for any housing policy for the State! As most of my customers are from middle class or higher middle class where budget is always the major constraints & with no family business backup to myself, I too consider myself as a middle class builder!

So will share some of my feelings about what you have expressed regarding the role of builders!  Devenda (sorry to take liberty of getting personal but just felt like) first of all define what is a home i.e. what it takes to make a home out of four walls & a roof. For e.g. we have acres of baron land but can we use it for making home as land is prime factor in costing of any home. But then that land needs infrastructure which includes everything from water to electricity to roads to drainage & many such with today’s needs like Internet etc. Then we need hospitals, malls, schools, play grounds, public transport & many recreational centers. Then on the top of it we need jobs as from where the money will come for a family’s day to day survival? So all these around those for walls is what makes home & now tell me what’s situation of all above factors in the State? Even in city like Pune we don’t have public transport, most of the suburbs don’t have water supply in place, drainages of the buildings is being laid in open, we see every day snaps in the news papers of them! We have one garbage depot for entire Pune city & result is every alternate month there is fight between people residing adjoining the garbage depot about its nuisance & entire city is hold at mercy of these villagers! Public transport is something everybody even all the Ganpati’s & Maroti’s too, for whom the city is famous for have got defeated but no action & traffic jams in every galli & on main roads too is a routine now! PMC’s schools & Hospitals, well only those who have nowhere to go gets admitted here or else ask the MLA’s or PMC’s Elected Members of yours or any party, where their kids go for schooling or where they get treated when they fail ill? I think their answers will tell the story of these so called facilities of the Govt system!

And on this background yet the city is growing because in villages & towns condition is worst than what it is in Pune city or any major city of State! For days there is no power supply, water is on mercy of tanker lobby, these very basic things are absent & so are the jobs. Outcome is every person from these places, like me who has a degree under his name has to leave his town & come in the shelter of big slums like Pune! Because the only reason is at least here I get assured job for my earning & by paying some extra money I at least get water which I couldn’t afford, back in my town. And we call this as growth of the city! And as poor educated fools like Snajay Deshpande are migrating to Pune the specie named builders is surviving here but at the mercy of whom?  It’s high time we should analyze the question!

Refer the recent news in papers in the context of files which has been held up for months due to decision wasn’t getting clear as who will sanction them the Collector or the new born baby named PMRDA i.e. Pune Metropolitan Development Authority! Even a month’s delay for a proposal of mere ten flats building can make the difference of lacs of rupees as the land rates are beyond control of any Govt & no banks provide any finance for buying the land. So the builder like me has to beg or borrow (steal isn’t option open for middle class boys like you & me) & the interest meters keep running with every day! The land prices in the areas where all the infrastructure is available are beyond even builders like myself & where infrastructure isn’t there what’s use of buying lands as I don’t know when the basic thing like a road to my plot will be build & who will buy flats at such place? Yet joke is I have to pay all premiums to every sanctioning authority & they take undertaking from me that they are not responsible for providing any such service but it’s the builders job to make it available to the residents! Poor builder like me has to surrender & gives undertaking as I have no other sanctioning authority to get my proposal cleared! This process also takes months with N numbers of obstacles in which Talathis can be on strike too concerned officer has got involved in relocation of some deceased village, so no one to sign on my file! Then there are things like Environment Clearance which sometimes are illogical yet even if I accept it yet takes minimum six months to get clearance because for entire State there are only two or three committees & all these committees can’t define clear norms of environment conservation & Govt can’t find a simpler way to conserve environment at local body level!

If I get through these hurdle & if I am lucky not to have any legal title issue, as here in our State even if I have got all sanctions & possession of land by all agreements duly registered yet any dead sister or brother can rise from the coffin & claim his ownership on the land & Hon Courts do admits his or her claim & every single Govt authority is too happy to give stop work on receipt of any such claim! Agreed the right of seeking justice should not be denied to anyone but what about the time span to decide who is right & who is wrong in title claims? And who is going to bear the burden of interest on the investment in all this time loss? Obviously a middle class builder like me who has to surrender for some settlement to avoid delay & that’s again increase in land cost!

Well after all such startup hitches when my project starts there is no sand in market as Govt hasn’t issued sand digging licenses! Or there is strike of sand & khadi transporters for some policy dispute about carrying load capacity of these vehicles, so I have to wait or buy at whatever rate these guys are demanding! There is gang, I am delebretly using the term gang as that’s fact of so called mathadi workers who extorts money from every developer & there are many such factors which acts like leakages in the earnings in this business which all has to be covered. Here laying a power network for my project I have to spend as the MSEDCL i.e. MSEB don’t have funds & I only have to pay by ransom to local body for digging of so called roads which are already in bad condition! This expense MSEDCL don’t consider in my estimate as they says it’s not their jurisdiction so here one MSEB meter costs me nearly Rs one lac, but who cares!

And after going through all these grinding when sales is not assured yet I am supposed to complete the project in time or else by the new law I might go behind bars for not following commitment! Now tell Hon. CM sir, what favors the builders have asked to the Govt? I didn’t asked free land, neither I asked supply of cement at reduced rates, no Sir I don’t want any freebees! All I want is a firm & fixed policy in place about my project & in time assured permissions whatever you feel I should have obtained, in place! Is this a favor you feel? If the new housing law can put me as a builder behind the bars for defaulter in commitments I made then what about the Govt who have no limit on any of time span, may it be just water departments NOC or getting the infamous NA permission? What about the commitments by the local bodies about providing infrastructure to its citizen who are paying all types of taxes & the builders who pays premiums whatever has been demanded! Here one interesting fact in real estate is nearly eleven percent of whatever has been flat cost goes to the Govt in form of various taxes like Stamp Duty, Service Tax, Vat & SES; in return what the flat holder gets is one thing no one is bothered about. Here another important aspect is Govt blames or thinks its builders who are enjoying high rates & profits but each year ready reckoner rates i.e. an indicator of minimum sale value are increased by every Govt & it does adds burden on flat holder but along with builders Govt also shares or enjoys the high property values as it generates thousands of crores of rupees through these ready reckoner rates.

Best way is let Govt do the builders job & appoint people like myself as contractors & assure us sale as well a fixed construction cost as right now when I start a project I don’t know what will be its final cost till I finish it & then whatever factor of safety I apply for sale, I am blamed for making excess profit or non affordable homes! Such is the picture painted by every media & ruler that sometimes I start doubting myself, am I the culprit of the common man in fulfilling his dream of owning a home? Sorry Sir I don’t doubt your intentions of serving the society in better way & agree again that there had been people in this industry whose acts does have got a bad name to all of us but then there are few good people too & let’s give a ear to what they want to say! Do consider the fact that each demand isn’t a favor & if we have problems then if not you, where we should go; please tell us that too! All I wanted to share is my feelings which represent many of middle class builders like me so dared to put across strait from the heart! Road to the affordable homes goes through making the real estate an affordable business or industry & for that discounts or favors won’t work but a workable practical strategy needs to be in place for that! You can call any ten people from our industry who has a track record, listen to them to the point, make them sit with you team & let it take even a year but let’s make a concrete policy about every type of home & apply its strictly may it be Metro like Mumbai or a small town in our Vidrabha & then see the results! We are not talking of making  a Taj Mahal but a simple affordable home for every segment in the society but unfortunately we are forgetting Taj Mahal wasn’t built with any budget or policy but affordable homes does need that & the way goes through all of our efforts for the same!

Well, if we can’t do it then everyone will keep blaming each other over affordable housing & in the process like the Panchatantra tell, cats will keep fighting & the monkey will enjoy piece of butter & then we will be left with nothing!
I can only hope that you won’t take this sharing as personal offence, as a middle class builder I can’t afford to take CM of the State head on! But had the words you expressed were said by any other politician, I would laughed & let it go but somewhere we all have high hopes & regards for you & thought what I feel about my business which is like religion for me should be shared with you as there may be some hope after all for affordable housing in this State!

Thanks a ton in advance for listening!

A Middle Class Builder!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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  1. Dear Sanjay,

    I admire your concern which I as a genuine industry person share as well. I however have to add that although you have poured your heart into this letter, it is meandering on its way to the concluding comment. If you can convert all your concerns into bullets, the same can be comprehended better by a busy person like our CM, and he could probably make a mental checklist of what the Govt could do / wish to do / display helplessness on the points raised. I could register every point because I am a fellow developer, I have strong doubts whether an outsider will be able to register, which is the intention of writing this letter in the first place.

    Gururaj Joshi

  2. Dear Sanjay,

    I admire your concern which I as a genuine industry person share as well. I however have to add that although you have poured your heart into this letter, it is meandering on its way to the concluding comment. If you can convert all your concerns into bullets, the same can be comprehended better by a busy person like our CM, and he could probably make a mental checklist of what the Govt could do / wish to do / display helplessness on the points raised. I could register every point because I am a fellow developer, I have strong doubts whether an outsider will be able to register, which is the intention of writing this letter in the first place.

    Gururaj Joshi


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