Faridabad emerges as multiplex city

Bijendra Ahlawat finds that 30 malls may soon go on stream 

Faridabad, the leading industrial hub of north India, may not be posing a serious challenge to neighbouring Gurgaon, the millennium city in overall development, but it certainly is trying hard to create a niche in certain ways. This includes emergence as a hot destination for real estate development and investment after Gurgaon and Noida in the NCR.

With several housing projects lined up by private and government builders in the pipeline, the city is likely to undergo a revolution of sorts in the retail marketing and entertainment sectors. While a dozen shopping malls had been under construction, the city is likely to have more than 40 such spots over the next few years. There are two multiplexes in the city at present.

‘The first multiplex, thrown open nearly five years ago, is located on the main Mathura road or National Highway 2. It had generated a lot of interest, says Rajkumar, a resident.

He says there had been a huge rush of locals for several months all together until a second mall came up in Sector 12 a year later.

Residents, who hail from middle and upper-middle class, had little choice than to visit New Delhi for shopping and family outing, he claims. Two such spots here had made many young couples hang around in the evenings though a majority of the visitors here had been serious shoppers, due to high-end prices of the products, he says.

However, there had been many, who had found a good alternative to shop for grocery and household articles after the start of super stores at these malls.

They had been claiming that the prices, including those of vegetables, were lower than a traditional shopkeeper. “Shopping for many items in the super stores here has been easy and satisfying,” claims Sangeeta, a housewife.

While over 30 malls are in line over the next few years, at least half a dozen are either near completion or under construction. At least three such buildings have applied for the NoC from the fire department of the Municipal Corporation, Faridabad. Three to four malls are likely to be thrown open to public over the next few months, says an official.

According to District Town Planning (DTP) and the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) office, 31 sites were allocated by HUDA in these sectors.

Some of them had already been auctioned while others were likely to be sold through this manner in near future. Some of the sectors, which already got a site sanctioned for the malls include sectors 12, 20A, 20B , 31 44 and 47. The two existing multiplexes have been located in Sector 12 and 15A.

At least two such spots are nearing completion in Sector 12, the main commercial and institutional sector of the city.

About seven sites of the multiplex have been given licence by the department in the R- Zone area where several housing projects are under process by private builders. This zone has been located across the Gurgaon and Agra canals and is closer to Greater Noida in UP.

About three to four applications are under consideration for grant of change of land use (CLU) certificate. HUDA has auctioned about eight such sites in the city during the past four to five years. Three sites, out of these, have been sold over the past six months.

Recently, shopkeepers and traders of Palwal organised a meeting to chalk out a strategy to face the opening of shopping malls, which they believe would eat up their business.

There has been a kind of unrest among small shopkeepers in the region over the mass entry of shopping malls, says a member of the Traders Association of Ballabgarh.



Multiplex may replace Nizam-era structures

A part of the heritage building is being converted to an entertainment zone, reports Ramesh Kandula

Environmentalists are up in arms against the Andhra Pradesh government over the construction of an ultra-modern shopping mall in the heart of the city on the ground that it would cause damage to the heritage buildings, which were once a part of the old Gandhi Medical College campus.

Two majestic structures built during the Nizam era – Lady Hyder Club and City Infrastructure Board building that once housed the GMC Principal’s office – face the risk of slipping into history as a flurry of construction activity is on for the proposed Urban Entertainment Centre project.

While a team of officials, who recently inspected the complex following the High Court’s direction, maintained that the heritage structures were not damaged, local NGOs and environmentalists have disputed the claims and sought immediate halt to the construction work.

“There are clear signs of damage to the fragile structures. The private developer is blatantly violating the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority rules,” Vedakumar, convener of local NGO, Forum for Better Hyderabad, said.

After shifting the medical college to new premises, the state government had handed over the 5.61-acre plot, on a lease period of 33 years, to a consortium, with Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd as a lead member, to develop an integrated entertainment project on build operate and transfer (BOT) basis.

A special purpose vehicle, CSG Construction Pvt. Ltd, has been formed to execute the tourism project, which is estimated to cost Rs 137.52 crore. It primarily comprises a retail shopping mall with a minimum of 50 to 60 per cent of the total built-up area.

In the remaining area, facilities to house hospitality, leisure and entertainment will be developed. A multi-purpose convention centre, restaurant, multiplex, food courts, gaming zone, family entertainment centre, indoor theme part and ethnic enclosure with a crafts bazaar for handicraft have also been planned.

As per the administration’s guidelines for conservation of old structures, heritage buildings within the campus will be developed as “ethnic enclosures.” “All necessary measures have been taken to ensure that the heritage structures are untouched even while developing the entertainment project to attract tourists,” Hyderabad Collector R.R. Chandravadan said.

The environmentalist groups, however, contend construction of a commercial complex would aggravate the traffic problems in the already-choked Basheerbagh area.

Acting on a public interest litigation by the AP Chapter of Indian Institute of Architects, the High Court had in January this year directed the state Archaeology Department to assist the court in formulating measures for preservation of heritage structures in the GMC complex.

The petitioner complained that heritage structures were being demolished by builders without any norms.

The rules stipulate that when such buildings were sought to be demolished or altered, the Heritage Committee of the Hyderabad urban authority has to be consulted before a final decision is taken.

Later, the Director of Archaeology, along with members of heritage committee, inspected the site and concluded that there was no damage to the notified structures.

While municipal officials maintain that only two buildings in the GMC complex were notified as heritage structures, environmentalists contend that the entire complex be declared heritage structure.



TAX tips
Income from residence abroad taxable in India
By S.C. Vasudeva

Q. I have migrated to the USA about 20 years back and have now come back to India. I am now in India for last three years and am informed that both my Indian and foreign income, if any, is taxable in India. I own a flat in Singapore, which has been let out to a company for the use of one of its executive officers. Is the income from there taxable in India? How would such income be computed?

— Nishant Gupta, Ludhiana

A. A resident assessee is taxable under the Section 22 of the Act in respect of annual value of a property situated in foreign country. A resident but not ordinary resident or a non resident is, however, chargeable under Section 22 of the Act in respect of income or a house property situated abroad, if income is received in India during the previous year. According to the decision of the Madras High Court in CIT vs. R. Venugopala Reddiar (58 ITR 439) in case tax incidence is attracted under Section 22 of the Act in respect of a house property situated abroad, annual value will be computed as if the property is situated in India.

In view of the above decision the provisions of the Section 23 and 24 of the Act would apply for the purposes of computing income from property, which is situated in Singapore and has been let out by you.


Q. We are a partnership firm carrying on the business of trading in marble and other building materials. Apart from a godown, we also have a building in which we have the office of the firm. Both these properties are entirely used for the purposes of business. Please let us know whether any notional income from such property is chargeable to tax, as these are self-occupied but not used for self-residential purposes.

— Ram Singh, Muktsar

A. Section 22 of the Act excludes from charge, income from any house property or any portion thereof, which is occupied by the owner for the purposes of his business or profession. The expenditure incurred by the owner on such property by way of current repairs and municipal taxes would be allowable as a deduction against income from business or profession. Depreciation in respect of such property is also allowable as deduction against such income. I may add that in case any residential quarters in the property are let out to the employees and such letting out is subservient and incidental to the carrying on the business, any income arising from such letting out would also be taxable as income from profits and gains from business or profession.

Land acquisition

Q. I purchased a piece of agriculture land for Rs 21,000 in 1980. It has been acquired by the state government for urban development purpose and a compensation of Rs 20 lakh is being paid. Please advise:

1. What will be rate of tax on gain?

2. On what amount I am to pay tax?

3. On what proceeds I can invest the gain amount?

— Kartar

A. The particulars given in the query are not complete. You have not indicated whether the agricultural land acquired by the state government is situated in any area, which is comprised within the jurisdiction of a municipality or cantonment board or is in an area within such distance not being more than 8 km from the local limits of municipality or cantonment board. Since the land has been acquired for urban development purpose, I presume that the same is covered within either of the above categories. The capital gain arising on the acquisition of land by the state government in such cases would be exempt form tax if:

(a) Such land during the period of two years immediately preceding the date of transfer, was being used for agricultural purposes by yourself or your parents;

(b) Such transfer is by way of compulsory acquisition under any law, or a transfer the consideration for which is determined or approved by the Central Government or the Reserve Bank of India;

c) Such income has arisen from the compensation or consideration for such transfer received by such assessee on or after April 1, 2004.

The consideration or compensation would also include enhanced amount of such consideration or compensation by any court, tribunal or other authority.

In case either of the above conditions at (a), (b) and (c) above is not fulfilled but the agricultural land is situated within the area as specified above, you will be liable to pay capital gains @ 20 per cent plus applicable surcharge and education cess. The capital gain tax would be difference between the sale consideration of Rs 20 lakh minus the fair market value of the land as on April 1, 1981. The investment for saving capital gain tax would have to be of the amount of capital gain.

Vacant house

Q. I have a residential house in Karnal, which I am not able to occupy due to my employment at Mohali where I am staying in a rented house. Am I supposed to pay any tax in respect of the residential house in Karnal, which I am not using and is locked. I have kept an attendant who is acting as a watch and ward of the said house. I go once in while to visit that place and stay for a day or two in the said house. How the tax in respect of said property is to be computed.

— Hari Singh, Mohali

A. In accordance with the provisions of the Section 23(2) of the Act, the annual value of a house or part of a house shall be taken to be nil, if:

(a) It is in the occupation of the owner for the purposes of his own residence or

(b) It cannot actually be occupied by the owner due to his employment, business or profession carried at any other place and has to reside at that place in a building not belonging to him.

c) It has not been let out during the whole or any part of the previous year and

(d) No other benefit is being derived by the owner.

In view of the above provisions, the income from the Karnal property is not taxable. However I would suggest that a clear indication in this respect must be given in your Income-tax return that the property at Karnal is not being occupied on account of your employment in Mohali and as no other benefit is being derived from such property, the income from such property should be taken as nil.

Wealth tax

Q. I own a residential house on land area of 1,000 sq yd. The land was purchased in 1967 for Rs 22,000, inclusive of stamp duty. Construction work was carried out between November 1973 and March 1975 with total investment of Rs 2,18,000 on construction work. The total cost of acquisition of the house is Rs 2,40,000.

I intend to sell the same. Current sale price is between Rs 2.50 and Rs 3 lakh. I seek advice to save IT capital tax legally. In normal course, your advice has been to get the valuation of the house as on April 1, 1981, done from some registered valuer.

The problem is that the valuer has no material to substantiate his value. He simply writes that in his considered opinion, the value of land/house as on April 1, 1981, was Rs. __. There are no parallel cases of sale of land near the above stated specified date. The valuation adopted by the valuer is not acceptable to the assessing officer who refers the matter to the valuation cess of the IT department and adopts the valuation from the cell, which is normally on the higher side. This results is unnecessary litigation with the department. There are various rulings that no penalty can be imposed in case of difference of opinion between two experts i.e. valuation by the registered valuer and valuation cell of the IT Department. The assessing officer generally slaps heavy penalty considering the difference in valuation as unexplained investment.

I have no mind to purchase or construct any other residential house within the specified time limit. Maximum investment on the purchase of specified capital gains bonds is Rs 50 lakh and that too within the lock-in period of three years. I am running 81 and I do not consider it advisable to even invest in capital gains bonds. Please advise.

I hold FDR amounting to Rs18 lakh in a nationalised bank, which is renewed, from year to year in the month of March. Is it taxable under the Wealth Tax Act? To me the balance in bank is not taxable. Please intimate.

The above stated FDR is renewed on March 1 every year. Thus the accrued interest from March 1 to March 31 becomes taxable and the bank deducts TDS. On the interest I declare the interest income accruing for the month of March in the return of income for the relevant year and claim credit for the TDS on accrued interest. I maintain my accounts on cash basis. The above stated practice leads to mixed system of accountancy. How far is it correct?

I intend to gift my grand daughter (daughter’s daughter) an account payee cheque. Does she fall in the class of lineal descendent? Is the gift exempt from tax?

— Nipun Sharma, Ludhiana

A. The replies are as under:

Section 55(2) of the Act defines cost of acquisition for the purposes of Section 48 and 49 of the Act and provides that where the capital asset became the property of the assessee before April 1, 1981, means the cost of acquisition of the asset to the assessee or the fair market value of the asset on April 1, 1981, at the option of the assessee. It would thus be observed that you have the option to adopt the fair market value as on April 1, 1981. This provision has been introduced so as to provide a benefit to the assessee and in case he chooses not to do so, there is no compulsion on him to adopt the fair market value as on April 1, 1981. You can thus adopt the cost of acquisition of the capital asset and compute the capital gain by adopting such cost.

The Act does not contain any other provisions to save the capital gains tax except the investment in the acquisition/construction of a residential house and/or the purchase of specified bonds. One residential house is exempt from wealth tax. You must be declaring in your return the interest received up to February 28 and the interest accrued for the month of March. You have possibly adopted this method so as to claim the tax deducted at source in full against the yearly interest income.

I am not aware of the components of your other income and therefore not in a position to advise with regard to the method of accounting for such components. However, in respect of interest income you can adopt either the mercantile basis or the cash basis, which is permitted by Section 145 of the Act. Thus there is nothing wrong with the system adopted by you.

The gift to your grand daughter (daughter’s daughter) will not be considered as an income from other sources under Section 56 of the Act in hands of your grand daughter since the gift would be from a lineal ascendant. However, in accordance with the provisions of Section 64 (1A) of the Act, any income arising on the gifted amount would be clubbed in the hands of either of her parents till such time your grand daughter is minor.

The writer can be contacted at [email protected]



Valley’s biggest auditorium

Ehsan Fazili talks about a convocation complex that took 27 years to get completed

Kashmir will soon have its biggest auditorium with a capacity to seat 2,500 in the shape of convocation complex at the University of Kashmir, Srinagar, which is under completion at the cost of Rs 8 crore. This complex, spread over 25,000 sq ft, is being touted the largest in north India and the best in the country.

Vice-Chancellor Abdul Wahid Qureshi said earlier many conferences and seminars had to be rescheduled due to lack of space.

“After the construction of the complex, our accommodation problem has been solved. Now we can hold international level conferences and seminars on the campus,” he said.

This would also help boost the academic activities of the university.

This auditorium is being completed 27 years after the foundation stone had been laid by the then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on November 7, 1981, after which the work remained suspended for several years due to technical reasons.

The work on the multi-design project was resumed in February 2004 by the University Construction Division with the help of Kadiri Consultants Mumbai, and the building agency, M/s Construction Engineers, Srinagar.

It has all facilities under one roof — from holding convocations, meetings, seminars, cultural programs to screening films, and a parking area for over a thousand vehicles. This would relieve pressure on the frequently used auditorium hall of the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), which has a capacity to seat 700 persons.

Neatly polished Makrana marble of Rajasthan in its curved corridors with glossy tiles on the walls gives an international look to the complex. Spacious, well-designed and decorated convocation hall with balcony looks like an indoor stadium with a seating capacity for 2,175 persons.

Comfortable pushback chairs have been fixed in a pattern to match arched design. Walls have been decorated with laminated teak sheets, bordered with a strip of typical Kashmiri embroidered crewel cloth. A wall-to-wall carpet, thick enough to provide cushion to feet, has been laid all over the hall. Even the doors of the hall have been treated acoustically to avoid any interference with the sound inside the hall.

With its own central heating system (CHS), the hall can be used in winters too. The complex, specifically the hall, is fireproof.



Mumbai costliest for expats

Soaring real estate prices are leaving a big hole in expatriates' pockets too, with Mumbai being ranked as the costliest city in India for them.

The cost of living for expats in the four major Indian cities – Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore – has increased over the past year primarily due to high real estate prices, says a new study by global human resources advisory and research firm Mercer HR Consulting.

According to the study released today, Mumbai has jumped to 52nd position in the worldwide ranking from 68 last year, while New Delhi has moved up to 68th place from 73rd rank.

Chennai moved up four ranks to 133, while Bangalore rose to 134th from 139th position last year.

It was the rising property prices that pushed the Indian cities up the ranking, Mercer said.

The study has ranked the cities based on cost of basic necessities, including housing, transport and food among others during the 12-month period ending March 2007.

The list is topped by Moscow, which has retained its position as the costliest city for expats, followed by London, Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong among the top five.

While London moved up from fifth rank last year, Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong moved down the rankings.

Even Beijing and Shanghai are costlier than the four Indian cities, while another Chinese city Tianjin is more expensive than Chennai and Bangalore but cheaper than Mumbai and New Delhi.

Another Chinese city Shenzhen is cheaper than Mumbai, but costlier than New Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore.

Interestingly, the Chinese cities have moved down the ranking.

The top 25 most expensive cities include Paris (13), Singapore (14), New York City (15), Beijing (20), Helsinki (22) and Amsterdam (25). Shanghai is ranked 26, while Shenzhen and Tianjin are ranked 53 and 130, respectively. — PTI



Greenery over blue water

Satish Narula lists a few aquatic plants suitable for home-based waterscapes

Photo by Parvesh Chauhan Water is available aplenty during the rainy season. One can use this opportunity to go in for ponds and aquatic plants. It is easy to grow them after following a few do’s and don’ts.

Depression in land is a common problem, be it a small house or a huge chunk of land meant strictly for society houses or public places. At times, there are ‘problems’ of having a seasonal nullah or rivulets running through the plot.

There may also be a liking for a pond full of aquatic plants or vaastu compulsion with some. A pond with such plants can be planned in large housing projects. But for all situations, one has to follow some basic rules and operations viz. proper depth depending upon the given plant species, maintenance of level, leak-proofing and above all, procurement of suitable aquatic plants

A pond can hold static, recirculated or free flowing water and construction is one aspect that needs deliberation. In case of seasonal flow, the structures have to be constructed in such a way that a particular level of water is maintained. Overflow is allowed by providing pipes at a level. The pond thus made is used for planting aquatic plants. In such a situation, however, floating plants have to be stopped from flowing out by providing mesh structures.

In cases of static water ponds, the construction material is either of readymade fibreglass or plastic and concrete ones. One can also use tubs or barrels depending upon the spaces available. In case of concrete or kutcha ponds, one can design as per one’s fancy though in case of precast structures, however, there is no scope of design.

As the pond gets ready, it can be filled with water and left for a few weeks so as to wash off the cement toxicity. Or else, one may add potassium permagnate. This can be done to add crystals to make the water wine red. Later, it can be filled with fresh water.

Most popular plant for such ponds is the nympheas. Make a choice of colour as is available in white, sky blue, yellow and red. Blue lotus and white kachnar, the mythological flowers, can be planted to seek divine blessings. The depth of water in the pond can vary from one foot to three for planting.

Miniature nympheas, which can be kept in a saucer, are also available in some nurseries.

Makhana is another ornamental water plant that has deep and round green leaves with small erect spines. It is ornamental. You can also plant Trapa, the singhara plant that has miniature leaves suitable for smaller ponds. Victoria regia, the big leaves lily with the biggest-known leaf in water plants, can also be planted. The leaves turn up at the edges to make a thaal. The back of the leaves is supported by of strong spines.

The strength of the leaf is such that it can support an eight-year-old child!

There are a few floating plants that do not need soil to thrive. Some of the common ones are salvinia, pistia (the water lettuce) hydrilla and azolas. All of them are ornamental and float on the surface. They look amazing after rain as they support water dews.

Getting such plants is, at times, difficult for the gardeners. One should try to get these plants from wild ponds, botanical gardens and from those dealing in aquariums.

The writer is a senior horticulturist from PAU. His email id is [email protected]



Buzz on Bourses
ICICI Pru files fund papers

Mumbai: ICICI Prudential Asset Management has filed initial papers with market regulator to launch a close-end fund to invest mainly in debt securities of companies likely to benefit from the real estate sector. ICICI Prudential Real Estate Fund will invest at least 51 per cent of the assets in debt securities and the rest in equity and related instruments, the fund house said in its offer document. "The initial allocation of the fund will typically be 70 per cent in debt instruments and 30 per cent in equity and equity related securities," it added. — Reuters

IHG in talks with realtors

New Delhi: Looking to cash in on severe room shortage in India's hospitality sector, global leader InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is planning a major expansion across the country through a shift from franchise model to management contracts in its India operations. "We are very actively working on our expansion plan and the company is looking at opportunities in all tier I,II and III cities," IHG Director of Operations, South West Asia, Michael Herrmann said. "Discussions are on with a number of developers for management contracts," he said. However, he declined to divulge details. — PTI

Parsvnath mall in Delhi

Mumbai: Real estate major Parsvnath Developers Ltd today said it has bagged a project from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to construct a shopping mall outside a metro station at a cost of Rs 150 crore. The company bagged the project through competitive bidding for developing a shopping mall, spread over 2.5 lakh sq ft, outside Netaji Subhash Place metro station in north Delhi, Parsvnath said in a statement. "The project would cost about Rs 150 crore," it said, adding the mall is expected to be operational within three years. This is the 13th project, which the company is developing for DMRC. — PTI

Indiabulls in talks with MIDC

Mumbai: Indiabulls Real Estate has said it is in discussions with Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to finalise the latter's stake in the joint venture company, Indiabulls Industrial Infrastructure Ltd (IIIL), that is developing a multi-product SEZ at Nasik. As per the MoU signed earlier between MIDC and Indiabulls Real Estate, the stake of MIDC would be up to a maximum of 26 per cent in IIIL, the real estate arm of Indiabulls group said in a communique to the Bombay Stock Exchange. Indiabulls Real Estate has also acquired two housing projects in Chennai for an undisclosed amount. — PTI

Bhoruka's IT Park project

Bangalore: Bhoruka Park Pvt Ltd, a part of the Bhoruka Group, has announced the launch of an IT Park project - Bhoruka Park - in Whitefield here. The 1.3 million sq ft project, which is likely to be completed in the next two years with an investment of Rs 250 crore, will be spread in 7.5 acres, a company press note said. The first phase of the project with an investment of Rs 100 crore will be completed by July 2007 while the remaining phase will be over by September 2008, it said. — PTI

Commercial centre in Kerala

Jerusalem: Plaza Centres, a subsidiary of Israeli firm Elbit Medical Imaging, has teamed up with an unnamed Indian entrepreneur to build a commercial centre in Thiruvananthapuram, and has purchased land for $26.5 million for the purpose, a media report said. The project on the 43,600 sq metre land in Kerala's capital will include an entertainment centre, office complex and an apartment hotel, Ynetnews reported. — PTI

Indian Hotels scouts for partners

Mumbai: The Indian Hotels Co Ltd may take on partners for some of international properties to free up cash for other acquisitions, a senior company official said. India's largest hotels operator, which owns the Taj group of luxury hotels and resorts, has bought hotels in the USA and Australia in recent months, and has said was looking to expand in China, South Africa and the West Asia. "We don't need to fully own all assets internationally, and are in talks with like-minded partners to co-own some of them," Chief Financial Officer Anil Goel said. Indian Hotels will hold the majority stake in a partnership with real estate or hospitality firms, he said. — Reuters

Orbit approves merger of arms

Mumbai: Real estate major Orbit Corporation (OCL) has said its board has approved merger of three subsidiaries with itself effective April 1. "The amalgamation is a part of our business strategy. We believe bringing technical, financial and managerial expertise together will lead to synergistic benefits, cost reduction and efficiency," OCL's Managing Director Pujit Agarwal said in a press note here. The three subsidiaries are Orbit Constructions and Realtors, Orbit Buildcon and Realty and Orbit Housing. — PTI

Zicom pact with retailers

Mumbai: Security equipment manufacturer Zicom Electronic Security Systems has entered into a strategic tie-up with Future Media for retailing products from exclusive Zicom retail counters placed in 100 outlets of Future Group's select retails formats. This includes the likes of Big Bazaar, Brand Factory, Electronic Bazaar, Food Bazaar and Furniture Bazaar among others. Popular Zicom products include burglar alarm systems and video door phones for homes, (closed-circuit televisions) CCTV surveillance systems for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), shops, video door phones for buildings and fingerprint locks. — UNI

Era Landmarks in Noida

New Delhi: Era Landmarks (India) Ltd, a subsidiary of Era Constructions (India) Ltd, has said it would invest Rs 300 crore to develop an IT Park in Greater Noida. The park will be spread over an area of ten lakh sq feet and will consist of both residential and commercial complexes. 'The park will be designed by an architectural firm ArCorp International, Era Group Chairman H S Bharana said. The project aims to meet the needs of complex businesses with suitable amenities like the corporate towers, convention halls, service apartments, ultra-modern clubhouses. — UNI

HomeTown mall

Ahmedabad: Home Solutions Retail (India) Ltd, part of the Future Group, today launched first-of-its-kind home improvement retail format 'HomeTown' at Acropolis Mall on Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway here. Addressing mediapersons, HomeTown CEO Mahesh Shah said HomeTown, spread over 1,30,000 square feet, will provide consumers with all that goes into building a house and everything to make it a 'Home'. This is their second venture in Ahmedabad after Noida. More nine such retail stores will be opened this year in different parts of the country, he said. HomeTown will also have counters by Money Bazaar, the recently launched consumer-financing format of Future Capital. — UNI

M-Cube malls by civic body

Mumbai: In a first for any civic body in the country, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai is planning to start a chain of malls across the city and seems particular about processes like branding and logo, which are generally associated with private companies. The MCGM has decided to start at least 10 such malls in the next year and has decided to call the chain 'M-Cube' or Municipal Mall for Masses and would soon be coming out with a logo for the same. "It is not a business venture for us nor are we moving beyond our obligation of providing for public markets by starting the malls," Additional Municipal Commissioner Manu Kumar Srivastava said. — PTI




Residents from the apple-rich belt in Himachal Pradesh are generating income from orchards and are purchasing property in the tricity, notes Kulwinder Sandhu

Financially sound businessmen, landlords, influential politicians and bureaucrats hailing from the hill state of Himachal Pradesh are showing keen interest in purchasing plots, flats and houses in Chandigarh, Panchkula and surrounding areas.

One can find many Himachalis in Panchkula, Manimajra and the newly developed areas of Nayagaon, Kansal and Saketri in Chandigarh who have purchased flats and plots in the recent years.

RS Negi a resident of Kinnaur who owns an apple orchard purchased a flat in Panchkula two years ago. He told The Tribune that his two children had studied from the Panjab University and they now had jobs in Chandigarh. Since, getting an accommodation on rent had become costly, it was better to purchase a flat, he said.

Like him, there are scores of persons from the apple belts of Kinnaur and Rohru, who have purchased properties in Chandigarh, Panchkula and surrounding areas, thanks to the income generated from the royal delicious apples that fetch good money in the market.

Many politicians, bureaucrats and landlords from Shimla, Kulu, Kangra, Hamirpur and Mandi districts have also purchased plots and flats in the City Beautiful and vicinity.

Certain influential bureaucrats and relatives of the Chief Minister have also reportedly purchased apartments in in Swastik Vihar Society, Sector-5, Phase-III, Panchkula.

The Swastik Vihar Society has been floated by a senior Congress leader and a former union minister hailing from Chandigarh, who had good connections with chief minister Virbhadra Singh, his cabinet colleagues and senior bureaucrats of the state.

There are reports that many senior politicians, including ministers and bureaucrats of the hill state, have purchased properties in Nayagaon, Kansal and Saketri villages of Chandigarh and Panchkula on the names of their family members and relatives.



Price correction in


Jangveer Singh finds that there is a demand-supply mismatch

Want to sell a 3-bedroom apartment in Shantiniketan. Price negotiable and there will be a considerable discount on the going rate of Rs 2,800 per square feet if settled quickly. Brokers excuse.”

An advertisement like this about the Shantiniketan self-contained township project in Whitefield one year ago would have been almost unbelievable. Today, it’s a simple truth. Prices in India’s IT city are on the downslide in areas like Whitefield, where developers have rushed to rake in a moolah by building big without a thought about demand.

Thousands of apartment complexes have come up in Whitefield and Brookfield on the outskirts of the city riding on the back of the International Technology Park as well as Export Promotion Park and hundreds of small and big IT offices, which have made the area a software hub. While in the beginning, the demand was more than the supply it is just the reverse now, forcing a correction in prices.

A property consultant, Srinivas R, says at present the situation is such that as much as three million square feet of residential space is lying vacant. “This translates into a few thousand flats, which are presently not finding any takers.” He says in the boom time, the situation could have been saved by the developers themselves who release flats into the market selectively but with home loans on the rise, the owners want immediate tenants.

“These are not forthcoming forcing many to put up apartments for sale at rates which are around 20 per cent lesser than those being quoted by the developers”.

Last few years have seen the overkill in construction, particularly in Whitefield and Sarjapur road. Out of a total of 1.4 lakh flats, which are under construction in Bangalore, a majority of them are coming up in these two areas. Property dealers have focused in these two areas because both of them are situated closer to IT hubs and software professionals have traditionally gone in for huge loans to book them.

This trend is, however, declining because it is becoming increasingly difficult to offload flats at what are quoted to be market prices by property consultants.

Also disappearing are the investors who were in for a short haul. Such persons, who brought apartments with an intention to sell them in a few months, have also reduced speculative buying. With buyers feeling that the Bangalore market is peaking, North Bangalore, particularly the Bellary road and central areas, are attracting investments.

This does not mean that Bangalore is not hot as a property destination. It is only that the supply has increased significantly in some areas only. “For instance, there is a severe shortage of space in the central business district and new developments like the UB city being built in the heart of the city are attracting phenomenal interest,” says Feroze Abdulla of Feroze’s Estate Agency.

Another dampener has been the steep increase in the guidance value of land in Bangalore last month. The guidance value has increased by one to four times. The government has now made it mandatory for anyone registering land in his name to pay 8.56 per cent stamp duty on the “market value of the property” as well as 1 per cent registration fee on the market value of the property.

Effectively, it translates into a 30 per cent increase in registration charges. It also makes imperative for investors to sell off flats before going in for registration if they are to avoid the Rs 3 to 5 lakh registration charges. This is likely to further reduce speculative buying and selling.



Developers’ order books swell

Infrastructure boom makes construction one of the hottest sectors, says R. Suryamurthy

Infrastructure development continues to be the prime focus of the UPA government as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has set a target of 10 per cent annual growth by 2011-12. The construction sector accounts for 5.2 per cent of the GDP, 38-40 per cent of the gross domestic investment and is the second largest employer.

The sector is becoming one of the hottest sectors with private equity players and FIIs betting on it as there is an infrastructure boom in the country.

Assocham estimates that domestic construction enterprise is poised to grow at 15 per cent per annum from about 10 per cent now to touch $120 billion by 2012 from the current size of over $70 billion.

Both domestic and foreign equity players are taking keen interest in the construction and realty sector. Recently, De Shaw, a leading US hedge fund with over $30 billion in assets, has invested $400 million in a DLF group firm that will set up SEZ across the country. In April, UK-based Trinity Capital PLC, a private equity firm, acquired a 5.92 per cent stake in Mumbai-based DB Realty Limited for £25.72 million. In the same month, ICICI Venture picked up 50 per cent equity stake in three Pune -based projects.

The changing phase of construction industry is set to begin from Mohali with the country’s leading real estate developer Emaar MGF entering into an equal joint venture with Leighton Asia Southern. It is part of the Leighton Group, Australia’s largest project development and contracting group with revenues of over $8 billion.

The joint venture company, Leighton Construction India Ltd, will make an initial investment of $150 million.

Currently, the projects in the pipeline are Mohali Hills, The Views, The Central Plaza in Mohali and The Palm Springs in Gurgaon, Haryana - all under the residential segment.

Emaar MGF is also planning to enter the airport modernisation business when the government puts out 35 non-metro airports for upgradation. Talks are currently on to rope in an international airport operator while bidding for the projects.

The construction companies with a strong order book is seen as having a multiplier effect on the economy. “Construction is large and central to the ongoing growth of the economy” Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission has said.

Major construction companies like L&T have an order book of Rs 35,300 cr, Gammon India has a current order of Rs 3,070 crore that includes several projects in the roads and bridges sector. IVRCL Infrastructure and projects’ order book position is close to about Rs 7,500-8,000 crore and Simplex Infrastructures order book stands at Rs 5,500 crore.



Morgan Stanley targets India with $8 b warchest
Brian Kelleher

Morgan Stanley has raised the biggest property fund ever, a $8 billion warchest, to invest in established global markets, including Japan and Europe, as well as emerging countries such as China, India and Russia. Separately, Wall Street rival Goldman Sachs has raised a $4 billion global property fund, a source familiar with the situation said.

The Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund VI, supplemented with borrowing, would have buying power of more than $30 billion, the US investment bank said.

The move heralds an emergence of giant global property funds, with US private equity firm Blackstone raising $10 billion for real estate and Credit Suisse planning a $2.5 billion fund.

Morgan Stanley, which issued a statement on the fund in New York, has contributed 20 per cent of the new fund’s equity.

Its portfolio would include real estate assets and companies from emerging markets, including China, India, Russia, Turkey and Latin America, as well as the developed markets including Japan, Western Europe and Australia. — Reuters



Off the wall

Devendra Malik talks about variety of finishing material available to jazz up the vertical space

Wall finish may be the last application in a design process but it needs to be based on crucial design decisions, which require thought and research. There are a variety of wall finishes available, the use of which have infinite possibilities. Paint and paper are the most widely used wall finishes.

Other finishes include tiles, fabrics, cork, carpet, panelling and linoleum.


Paint is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to change a dull, boring room into a bright, clean room. It is easy to get the desired colour shade in paint or can be obtained by having it mixed.

For a decorative look, there are different painting techniques available for that special look.

Sponging can bring about a striking effect on a wall. This effect is produced by dipping a piece of natural sponge into glaze, dabbing off the excess and applying the sponge haphazardly on the surface. Two or more colours can be used on a surface for an enhanced look.

A longhaired brush dragged through wet glaze gives the effect called dragging. After painting glaze over the base coat, a brush is dragged through the wet glaze, in one clean stroke. Remove excess glaze and repeat the process.

Spattering is a speckled effect that can be achieved on all surfaces. It helps create an impression of granite or stone. A stiff bristled paintbrush or toothbrush is to be loaded with paint. When finger or knife is drawn over the bristle, it releases a shower of fine drop of paint onto the base coat. A subtle effect can be achieved with spattering depending upon the choice of colour.

Fashion a pattern of your own by passing a comb through a wet glaze. Set the fancy free and comb with colours to create various patterns in different directions. Using the comb in a wavy or circular pattern can create optical fantasies.

Colour washing gives walls a charming effect. Washes can be made from paint or glaze. Use thinned paint for this technique. Paint the glaze randomly onto the base allowing parts of the base to show. Soften the brushstrokes as you proceed. More background colour can be revealed with the use of a sponge or cloth.


Wallpapers are a great alternative for decorating and enhancing the walls. Wall covering can come vinyl-backed, pre-pasted, scrubable or paper backed. Wall covering are used widely in the residences, commercial hospitality, corporate and institution workplace as it just requires little maintenance. Wallpapers offer a wide variety of colours, patterns and textures. Wallpapers can be classified into three types.

  • Non-washable or water sensitive must be cleaned with commercial type of cleaner.
  • Water-resistant type of finish may usually be cleaned one to three times with mild soap or detergent.
  • Scrubable type is truly washable.

Vinyl wall covering is the latest trend. There are several types ranging from vinyl-coated paper to vinyl-impregnated with a manmade base. These are durable and easy to maintain but more expensive than paper. Vinyl is also available in hard surface tiles and rigid panels. These are acoustic panels and can be fitted with almost any fabrics and painted in any colour.


There are fabrics made especially for wall coverings, which come with a paper backing. Many types of closely woven fabrics can be used. Some possibilities are sheeting, burlep, canvas, ticking and chintz. Felt is a good choice as it comes in a wide range of colour and often is treated to be soil and flame resistant. Felt, carpet and other fabrics can improve the acoustics in a room.

There are several ways in which fabrics can be placed on the wall. They may be pasted, held in place with double-faced tape, “upholstered” to the wall with a tacking stripe or stapled or tacked to wooden stripes.

There are many other wall finishes (back painted glass panels, abuse resistant finishes, panellised wood walls, folding glazed walls, glazed wall tile and porcelain tiles) available in market. Each type requires its own preparation of surface and application. The selection depends upon the required ambience of the space and whether it can wear the use of space and maintenance.