Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Where I should Buy My Dream Home?

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labor tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution”...
Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson, often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755. It had a far-reaching effect on Modern English and has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship". These words of Samuel about home I recalled when I came across a recent blog by Ravi Karandikar, my friend & real estate blogger rather critic is the proper word & many of my sharing’s' has been motivated by his blog articles. This time when I called regarding his blog we had nearly a verbal fight in discussion as he has mentioned rather advised his readers not to buy flats in fringe area i.e. development along the border of municipal limits. At first intrigued by the words & as a developer by myself I tried to justify building in areas where infrastructure is less & typical logic of builder’s that whose job it is to create infrastructure & somehow we couldn’t meet the end of the topic so it remained in my mind. Ravi’s stand was builders should not build where there is no basic infrastructure like roads, water & drainage & the more I thought over it the logic however weird it may be but seems right & that is what disturbed me more!

Before going in to the detail let’s see what’s scenario on front of infrastructure i.e. civic infrastructure in & around the city. Civic infrastructure means basic necessity fulfilling activities or amenities provided by the local body to its citizens. For e.g. roads, water lines, drainage lines, electric power cable etc makes amenities in form of infrastructure & to run these things like public transport operation becomes activities in form of civic infrastructure.  Leave apart social infrastructure like sports complexes’ or schools as well hospitals, shopping malls & theaters; they too are equally important but a man can survive without them is a fact. Not long back before year 2000, Pune was considered as best city with its infrastructure especially for water & environment it used to provide its citizens. Public transport was adequate though not perfect but then the spread of the city was small so it was sufficient. Same was the case with roads & drainage like needs. On the front of water city was number one in State such was the water supply in abundance! One Bal- Ggandharva auditorium was enough to take care of cultural needs of the city. But after year 2000 suddenly with the employment generation in & around the city, thanks to IT as well automobiles sector here, suddenly Pune become hot spot for jobs all over the country & tremendous flow of migrants started flowing this city. At the same time the generation which has purchased flats in 80’s, their second generation also got jobs here & they started finding their existing living space inadequate. And then there were hundreds of education facilities providing skilled man power to the industries here, which in a way was infrastructure for them. All this growth of the city saw rise in population in multifold & suddenly the very same infrastructure for which the city was admired started getting crack down under the pressure of population growth. On one hand all these new population needed homes which gave birth to specie named builders & real estate industry was in full blossom. The sky line of the city started changing fast & so does the boundaries of the city. The adjoining villages were merged in the respective Municipal Corporations i.e. PMC & PCMC. Now no more the farms as well plantations of fruit bearing trees was to be seen around the city but every sq inch of land started getting converted in apartments. Agreed this was needed as if you want to create jobs then you need to create living spaces for those job personals is a fact. Even the expanded boundaries of the PMC & PCMC were not enough, the concrete structures started encroaching on villages which are on fringe of the municipal limits & before any govt organization realized the cool & cozy Pune was no more a big town, it’s now Pune Metropolitan Region. Govt recognizing the need to monitor this cancer like growth around & within the city formed a much hyped PMRDA i.e. Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority! Though the actual functioning has started hardly five months back, like  its being shown in a popular Marathi channel (those who know Marathi, its Janhvi & Shree’ awaited baby), the wait for the delivery of this PMRDA baby was real long, nearly ten years the concept PMRDA was in talks but finally it came in existence in year 2015! Job of PMRDA is to control the concrete jungle growth as well give a finite infrastructure to the areas which are out of jurisdiction of both the municipal corporations.

Here is where Ravi is concerned as in many buildings especially in the fringe areas, which have been handed over to the clients (finally); the residents are having many basic issues causing day to day conflicts between the builders & clients! Like there is no roads network at many places, either the roads has been encroached or in very bad shape. Then there are no road safety things like dividers or street lights, making the travel on these roads especially at night by women, unsafe. Water supply is either very poor or nonexistent & there are no storm water or drainage lines.  Even in the CREDAI’s (apex body of the developers) property exhibition the Hon Guardian Minister who is Chief of PMRDA too also blamed builders only, for residents not getting the basic things like roads, & the very same residents complaining to him about such issues! Well, I want to ask Hon Minister Sir that is it job of builders to provide roads, water & drainage like things? As a builder can provide or hand over or make the road which is adjoin to his project, how he can make the road which isn’t in his jurisdiction? And firstly if govt isn’t going to provide civic infrastructure then why not declare any area where such infrastructure isn’t there as non-buildable, so no one will buy lands here in first place leave apart building over it! And second issue is then why PMRDA & PMC & PCMC is charging nearly Rs 400per sq ft area (this figure varies location & use as well design wise) as development charges & premiums for plan passing? Also if developers are supposed to provide the entire infrastructure then why municipal corporations & gram panchayats are collection property taxes from the residents, why not builders are allowed to collect the same. As if govt or local bodies are not going to provide any civic infrastructure neither taking any responsibility for the same then they have no legal or moral right of asking for a single rupee from developer nor the citizens! The truth is all these govt bodies are used just to collect money from citizens but not to give anything in lieu of the same.

Will share a classic example here of my own. Our dearest MSEDCL ie formerly MSEB, asks developer to lay the entire network & infrastructure including HT power cables to transformer & takes undertaking of maintenance of the same for five years from handing over this infrastructure to MSDCL. Joke is the developer has to pay supervision charges to MSDCL for all this works as well buy every material from the specified suppliers given by MSEDCL & yet to give personal warranty of this material. On top of it if any other govt agency while carrying their work outside of the project area, for e.g. power cables which are laid underground on road got damaged by drainage dept of PMC, this also the developer has to rectify! In my case when clearly the cable got cut by the local gram panchyat road contractor & supply to the complex where people are living got shut off; the concerned MSEDCL officer said its builder’s job as he has agreed to maintain the infrastructure! But I can understand if the cable fault has occurred because of poor workmanship of low grade material, how I can protect it from another govt agency who is carelessly damaging the cable! And again if it’s so, then why MSEDCL is collecting electric bills; as the bills are not just for the power use but maintenance of the  infrastructure also! Its same logic what our Hon Guardian Minister shared on CREDAI platform, that you are selling the flats then you take care of your clients, as a govt, we will only take all the money, that’s it! But then this is how our country runs & we speak about “Ease of Doing Business!”

Now issue is if such is the situation then why a builder buys a piece of land which has no infrastructure & why a common man buys his one time dream home is such project? Answer is simple, because of budget! As where the entire so called civic infrastructure is available there the land rates are so high that the end product i.e. home at such address is possible to only few of the buyers & they are very less. Also such lands are already developed so hardly any place left with all infrastructure in place. If we understand the demand of homes, the major demand is in budget homes & budget is limited for most people. Whatever home fits in their pocket, it’s possible only where the land rates are low & obviously land rates are low (I mean in comparison to the developed land’s rates), its only because of infrastructure unavailability. Here one more aspect has to be considered, a land whose value is very low as it don’t has any road or water or electricity, just govt does it so the landlord demands ransom for the same land without any of his contribution, isn’t it a crime? There has to be a ceiling on land rates where the rates are going up just because any public body has made the infrastructure or the developed lands will never come at affordable rate & so won’t ever the homes on such plots! Seriously it’s high time that the infrastructure works like road widening & laying drainage lines /water lines should be considered as National Need & any person obstruction to same should be acted upon with a law like TADA or MOCCA! Many will laugh or will think I have gone nuts but look around & you will understand importance of infrastructure & such law, as even a small land holder for his interest making thousands of citizens suffer just because govt isn’t able to acquire his piece of land for road making under the name of some ownership law! If the so called govt collects taxes from citizens & premiums from the industry then the very same govt should stand for every rupee it collects from us!

And then somewhere Ravi’s suggestion however anti builders or weird of not buying the flats in areas where no infrastructure is there, seems right thing to do! Because who allows Govt’s to posses such careless attitude towards its responsibility of providing simple things like roads but we the builders & the customers! As a builder we are buying lands without any infrastructure, we are paying the govt all the taxes/ premiums it asks for & yet we don’t mind not getting roads or water for our projects. On the top of it we are getting clients who does book flats in such projects & pays us & take possession & when they start living in such homes without water, drainage, power or roads, still they vote to the very same Corporators & MLA’s & MP”s! Unless the common man stops buying anything which don’t give him value for his hard earned money the scene of infrastructure won’t change as then the builders won’t buy such lands & then the land lords as well govt will feel the heat & then only there will be hope for some change to make common man’s living comfortable!
And then only Ravi will not have to advise his readers “not to buy flat here or there” but “to buy the flat where ever they wish”!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.


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