No full stops
Kanchan Vasdev

Ludhiana’s drains & nullahs are no more, courtesy innovative Ludhiana residents and greedy land sharks

This railing is the only telltale sign of the nullah in Basti Jodhewal.
This railing is the only telltale sign of the nullah in Basti Jodhewal.

IN Ludhiana where every inch of land is sold at skyrocketing prices, residents have not even spared nullahs and seasonal drains. These have been encroached upon and filled up to make way for shops, houses, religious places… you name it!

Many seasonal drains that used to pass through the city now exist only in records of the drainage department and have assumed folklore status – only old timers remember how they would carry rainwater during monsoons. Nullahs that carried sewage and rainwater in the old city too have disappeared.

Land sharks did not want to spare even an inch of land, as it was sold at princely sums. They covered the nullahs with concrete and erected shops over these. In a bid to make hay while the sun shone, the Municipal Corporation auctioned space on the ganda nullah passing through Bhadaur House as residents had already encroached upon 90% of it.

Shops in Talaab Bazar that have come up over the old nullah.

“Land prices have gone up to such an extent that everybody wants to own whatever he can lay his hands on. In a city where government land is being sold for Rs 1 lakh per square foot, why would anybody spare land that is easily available? And that too when he knows the administration is too weak to take action,” says municipal councilor Parminder Mehta, who has been raising his voice against encroachment of nullahs for a while now.

Covering of nullahs and encroaching of seasonal drains is now telling on storm water drainage in the city. Just an hour of rain is sufficient to inundate many areas. Water even enters houses and old commercial complexes!

Interestingly, complete markets in the old city that have come up on nullahs. Many shops in Talaab Bazar, Namak Mandi, Sadar Bazar, Electronic Market, a part of Akalgarh Market and Book Market were constructed on the old nullah that flowed from Talaab Bazar to Damoria Bridge. In many areas, MC even laid a road after covering the nullah.

“Shops that were initially constructed on six feet land now measure 14 feet and above in these areas. Shopkeepers simply kept extending their shops by gradually covering the nullah in front of their shops. Over the years it disappeared! One is only reminded of it during monsoon when it gets choked. But now it is impossible to clean the nullah as it has been covered throughout,” added Mehta.

Another nullah that passed through Daresi and Niggar Mandi before finally culminating into the ganda nullah near Damoria Bridge was also encroached upon. Industries and other establishments occupied banks of the Budda Nullah passing through the city. They extended their structures into the nullahs by constricting its span. Finally, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had to intervene and direct the Municipal Corporation to remove encroachments on this nullah. Though the poor were removed, industries continue to occupy long stretches in several areas.

Seasonal drains also suffered an identical fate. Residents raised plinth levels and sold the land at very high prices. For instance Pakhowal Road, earlier named as Sua Road after a drain of the same name. There is no drain there now. Part of it was taken under a road and the rest encroached by residents. Besides houses, commercial complexes also covering the drain now.

Two years ago, the Barrewal and Bahadurke drains were encroached upon but the police booked the encroachers. Jassian Drain, too, is meeting a similar fate. It is gradually being filled and shops and houses are coming up on it. The story of Jwaddi to Threekay drain is identical.

“It (encroaching drains and nullahs) is big business. The mafia invests nothing but gets high returns. First they fill up the drain and then construct a beautiful structure over it. Then they sell it off for half the land price. They just give possession, as they cannot provide legal documents, but buyers don’t seem to have a problem with that and the show continues,” says Parminder Singh, a real estate agent. Buyers obviously do not include the common man, who would not like to spend a penny on dubious deals, he says. “Only some people who do not mind making rounds of government offices buy such houses,” he adds.



Destination Dharuhera

This town is the next big thing after Noida and Gurgaon. RAJU WILLIAM tells us why

WITH real estate growth in Noida and Gurgaon having reached its pinnacle, now Dharuhera is hot property. A developing town, it falls under Rewari district and is ahead of Industrial Model Township (IMT) Manesar on the Delhi-Jaipur expressway.

This is in line with the major shift in thinking of developers who have started seeing long-term growth prospects in moving beyond the NCR with its limited supply of properties. According to a survey of developers in seven metro cities by FICCI and consulting firm Ernst & Young, 70 per cent developers favoured reaching out to smaller towns. As it happened, real estate in the NCR evolved when development first took the route to Gurgaon and then Noida. When property prices in Gurgaon and Noida started going up, construction activities shifted to Ghaziabad, Meerut, Faridabad, Greater Noida and Sonepat.

Though one can buy decent space in NCR, there are few who can afford it and certainly not the middle and salaried classes. Dharuhera seems to be the answer. With bigger and better prospects for residential, commercial and industrial property development due to comparatively low cost of land rates, industry leaders like Parsvanath, Ansal (API), M2K, Tivoli, SNG, BCPL-Vardhman and many others have already started to cash in on the situation. And their target is the segment that simply cannot afford the Rs 50-65 lakh, 2/3 bedroom flats in Gurgaon and Noida.

One of the latest developments in Dharuhera after Omaxe and Parsvanath is initiated by BCPL-Vardhman, which is coming up with a housing project, Woodscapes. “Based on residential needs in our country, these flats will be affordable with all features required for a modern lifestyle. This is the idea behind Woodscapes, Dharuhera,” observed its chairman, Rajendra Jain.

As per industry watchers, Dharuhera will always have an edge over the NCR for more than one reason. It is one of the most closely linked towns with Delhi and NCR. Its location on National Highway-8 and a well-developed infrastructural base like roads and communication network all over the district make it an ideal location for people working in Gurgaon, Manesar, Bhiwadi, Rewari and even Delhi.

On completion of the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway — being branded as the pride of NCR — the travel time to Punjab and UP will be minimal. Total electrification, a large pool of skilled manpower, a supportive social environment and above all, development of various industrial and residential colonies forms the basis of convenience in Dharuhera.

At present, property prices in Dharuhera are far less than Noida, Gurgaon or Ghaziabad. It is being felt that if the SEZ takes off as planned, the town would be ideal to access it. What Dharuhera also offers is cheaper housing as compared to Delhi and Gurgaon. It is rated high by investors too, who see it as an affordable yet high return investment opportunity. As per industry insiders, current land rates are between Rs 1,500 and 2,000 psf. and these are expected to shoot up to at least Rs 3,000 psf in the next couple of years.

Industries and high-tech and high value projects involving foreign collaborations and investment have also come up in the area. While the Bhiwadi Industrial Town is a five-minutes drive, IMT Manesar is a 15-minute one. The SEZ being developed by Reliance has already created a buzz in the real estate market. Dharuhera is seeing renewed interest from developers. Not only will it neighbour the SEZs, this town is also reaping the benefits of its proximity to industrial hub of Manesar.



Customer is king
S.C. Dhall

Battling a slump, real estate firms offer freebies & incentives to prospective buyers ahead of the festive season

PLANNING to buy a house? First the good news. Just ahead of the festive season, most real estate and housing giants are offering incentives, freebies and discounts to prospective buyers. The bad news is that the skewed demand and supply equilibrium in the real estate sector has not significantly affected prices.

Real estate companies too are looking at the festival season as an opportunity to boost sales despite the slowdown in the sector, especially in the wake of the government decision to release arrears for Central staff around Diwali. Freebies range from a trip for two to Dubai or Singapore to a Maruti Alto. Most of these offers are available in and around New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and some southern cities.

A Mumbai realtor has even introduced a customised advance disbursement fund scheme. This would provide the clients more benefits and alleviate concerns that stem from soaring interest  rates on home loans. Under the scheme, the realtor will bear interest on the home loan before handing over possession. In ordinary circumstances, the loanee has to pay interest as well as the principal much before possession. By doing this, the company claims to be “fulfilling its commitment to providing affordable housing”. Surely a win-win situation — the customer is benefitted and sales are not affected.

But many like Bangalore-based Puravankara Projects do not favour the trend. “We offer long-term benefits to our customers in terms of quality of homes and the whole buying experience rather than short-term incentives,” an official said. However, keeping pace with trends, the realtor is planning to launch mortgage finance schemes and is working with various banks  to make their projects pre-approved.

According to Sanjeev Baboota, a real estate consultant operating out of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, demand might have waned but it is a passing phase. “We are nowhere at the end of the road as far as housing demand is concerned. Speculators have exited the market leaving behind only the genuine retail investor. And that is a good thing,” he says.

Interestingly, demand for properties in Chandigarh and Panchkula has come down and all roads now seem to be leading to Mohali. “With the number of  projects coming up in Mohali, the housing demand will soon begin to look up,” he adds.

Buyer’s den

IF some advertisements are to be believed, interest-free loans are also available. As real estate and housing companies still seem to proliferate, it appears to be a buyer’s market, even as the retail investor is taking his time before entering it.

With inventory demand shrinking due to rise in interest rates and lack of affordability, property sales have reportedly plummeted by around 50 per cent since  the beginning of 2008. If the developers fail to create demand this Diwali, the downturn could continue for a longer period. But the good tiding for potential buyers could mean hard times for speculators.



Tax tips
Home Truths
S.C. Vasudeva

Q. I have a flat in Chandigarh I acquired in 1998. Now, I have been allotted a flat in Faridabad but I have no money for it. So, I have to sell the flat in Chandigarh to pay for the new flat. My problem is that for the Faridabad flat I will be paying based on the progress of construction of the block of flats i.e. the payment is progressive linked to construction. So, where do I park my money after selling my flat in Chandigarh so that I can make periodic payments for the flat in Faridabad and still save capital gains tax? Construction in Faridabad has just started and will take 2-3 years to get completed.

— Gursharan S. Sidhu

A. According to the provisions of the Income-tax Act 1961, to claim exemption from the taxability of capital gain in such a case, an assessee is required to utilise the amount of capital gain arising on the sale of residential house to acquire or construct a new residential house. The specified period for acquiring the new residential house is two years whereas for constructing a new residential house the period allowed is three years. If the amount of capital gain is not utilised for the acquisition or construction of a new residential house before the date of filing the income-tax return required to be filed under the provisions of section 139(1) of the Act, then the unutilised amount is required to be deposited with a bank, in a capital gains scheme account before the said date. The amount payable towards the acquisition or construction of the residential house can be withdrawn from such an account.

In view thereof, in case the amount of capital gain is not utilised before the due date of filing the return of income applicable to you, you will have to deposit the balance amount of capital gain in a bank account under the capital gain scheme. This will take care of your problem of parking the funds after the sale of Chandigarh flat. The answer to your query is based on the presumption that the Chandigarh flat is a residential one.

Tax of the matter

Q. I own a property that I have given on rent. I charge rent of Rs 1 lakh a month, which is inclusive of different services like lift, air conditioners, security etc. Can I ask the tax authorities to split up the above sum? How would the amount so split be taxable?

— R.K. Sinha

A. In case the owner of a property gets a composite rent for the property as well as for services rendered to the tenant, the composite rent is to be split up and sum, which is attributable to the use of the property, is to be assessed as income from house property under Section 22 of the Income-tax Act 1961. The amount pertaining to the rendition of services would be taxable under the head ‘income from other sources’.

You’ll have to pay tax

Q. I purchased land in Mohali about 18 months back. Prices have shot up in the last few months on the basis of reports that an international airport is likely to be set up in the vicinity of my land. I intend selling the same but I am afraid that the holding period of the land being less than three years, a short-term capital gain would arise on the sale thereof. Can I save capital gains tax on sale of such a land by any chance?

— N.K. Singh

A. The Act does not provide for any relief from the taxability of a short-term capital gain. The capital gain arising on the sale of the land owned by you would be a short-term capital gain. The same would be aggregated with your other income and the tax would be leviable on the slab rate applicable on your total income.

Tax simplified

Q. I have some agricultural land within municipal limits. The same is likely to be acquired by the state government for setting up of a SEZ complex. I understand that the capital gain arising on the compulsory acquisition of such a land is exempt from tax. If so, kindly elaborate.

— Amit Kumar

A. Capital gain on compulsory acquisition of urban agriculture land is exempt if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The assessee is an individual or a Hindu undivided family.
  • He or it owns an agriculture land situated in urban area mentioned in section 2(14) (iii)(a)(b) of the Act.
  • There is transfer of the agriculture land by way of compulsory acquisition under any law or a transfer, the consideration for which is determined or approved by the Central Government or Reserve Bank of India.
  • The agriculture land was used by the assessee (and/or his parents if the land was owned by an individual) for agricultural purposes during two years immediately prior to the date of transfer.
  • The asset may be long-term capital asset or short-term capital asset.
  • Capital gain arises from compensation (and/or additional compensation) or consideration that is received by the assessee after March 31, 2004.

In case you satisfy the above conditions, the capital gain arising on acquisition of your agricultural land would be exempt from tax.

Deed Indeed

Q. I purchased a house in 2005, the sale deed of which was executed on November 18, 2005 by paying stamp duty of Rs 1.8 lakh in the office of sub-registrar, Chandigarh. I took possession of the house on the same day, but Estate Officer, Chandigarh, transferred ownership of the said house on December 21, 2005. Should I sell the house after November 18 or December 21 this year to avoid short-term capital gains? I want to purchase another house immediately. Kindly advise.

— Vijay Sharma

A. In accordance with the provisions of Transfer of Property Act, 1882, the legal title of an immovable property gets transferred either on the execution of the sale deed in favour of the purchaser or by allowing the possession thereof to be taken or retained by the purchaser in part performance of a contract referred to in section 53A of the aforesaid Act.

In my view, therefore, the legal title of the property vests with you w.e.f. November 18, 2005 i.e. the date on which the sale deed was registered and the possession of the property taken by you. The recording of the transfer by the estate officer in his records does not alter the vesting of the legal title on November 18, 2005.

Accordingly, the limit of three years provided in the Act for treating a capital asset as a long-term capital asset would expire on 17.11.2008. You can transfer such a long term capital asset after the said date so as to avail the benefit of exemption of capital gains tax by utilising the capital gain arising on such sale by acquiring/constructing a new residential house within the specified period or investing the same in the acquisition of capital gains tax saving bonds.



Rock On!
Jagvir Goyal

Correct grinding & polishing can make or mar your floor. A few vital clues…

Take your pick

Choosing granite: While choosing granite, the first thing to decide is whether you want a textured surface, plain one or with lines or waves in it. Mostly, deep black granite is preferred. A good quality slab will have no patches of discoloration.

Now, check for hairline cracks and pinholes with the naked eye. Rub the granite surface with a piece of cloth dipped in kerosene oil or petrol. No colour should appear on the cloth. If it does, it means industrial oil has been rubbed on the slabs to intensify colour. Such slabs of granite will lose their colour in one or two months. Reject them! This problem is generally faced in light shade black granite. Choose granite that is genuinely dark coloured. Choosing kota: The stone from mines around Kota in Rajasthan is bluish, grayish, brown, green and red in color. If you are using kota in open to sky cut-outs or in paved areas, choose greenish or grayish kota tiles of 575 X 575 mm. Kota stone is cheap and costs around Rs. 20 to 25 per square feet. However, don’t use it on kitchen counter tops.

Using kota?

MOSTLY, kota stone tiles are not cut to true right angles. These need to be set to right angles at site by making a tile size mould on the ground. This results in some edge-cutting of stone slabs. Account for this wastage while buying slabs. If you have bought kota at Rs 20 per square feet, actual cost that you will be bearing will be around Rs. 22 to 23 per sq ft. Keep joints between slabs not more than 3 mm thick.

GRANITE and kota are two stones that have become immensely popular with house builders. While granite’s USP lies in its hardness, durability and visual appeal, kota is affordable and ideal for paved areas in front and back courtyards. Both stones respond well to polish, but there are a few important guides to be kept in mind while buying and using these materials. Read on…

Making the cut

LOOK out for circular marks on the back of granite slabs and if you find some, skip the slabs. When cutting slabs from big blocks, insist on water cutting using big sized mechanised saws. Sometimes, cutting is done with kerosene cutters, which leaves circular patches of kerosene on the back of slabs. With the passage of time, this kerosene travels to the upper surface of granite leaving blotches on it.

Measure it right

Granite: Check the thickness of the granite slab yourself. Sellers tend to increase thickness by 2 to 3 mm! Lesser thickness may upset your plan and you may have to make it up by unnecessary filling of mortar below the slab. Granite is best suitable for kitchen counters because it never loses its polish. It is expensive and any relaxation on thickness should not be allowed.

Kota: Choose thickness not less than 32 mm for floors and not less than 20 mm for stairs, skirting and walls. Pre-polished as well as rough kota stone is available.

Mirror shine

THOUGH tiles do not need polishing, all natural stones do. No one uses the old method of three-four cuttings for polishing these days. The seven-cutting method, popularly called granite polish, is used and it lends a distinct sparkle to the floor. Grit blocks of 0, 1, 2, 2 ½, 3, 4, 5 and 6 number are used for this polish. Water is used during cutting to act as a lubricant. Use this method for polishing of floors. The shine remains intact for seven or more years. Nowadays, an additional cutting is done with a very fine imported grit block to bring mirror-like shine in the floor.

Op Polish

THE first four operations of granite polish of floors involve cutting and grinding and the next three polishing of floors. After the first cutting, wash the surface thoroughly and cover it with white cement grout to fill pinholes appearing after first cutting. Cure it for three days and then allow second cutting. Apply the repair again after the second cutting. No repair is generally required after second cutting unless some pinholes are still noticed. Full polishing operation lasts 10 to 11 days. Nothing like Mansion Polish etc is required in this type of polishing.

Get the right man

WHENEVER you get flooring done on contract basis, include the first one or two of total seven cuttings in the contract for laying of flooring. Tell the contractor that you will make payment only when the cuttings have been performed and slopes have been shown to you to be okay and in right direction. If you don’t include first two cuttings here, he may lay the floor tiles or slabs without required care for slopes or level.

When the first two cuttings are to be done by him, he will take care that slabs or tiles match each other so that minimum effort is needed during cutting to match them. The rougher laying he does, more effort and labour will have to be put in while cutting. So that way, you can avoid the headache that cutting and polish man may cause by finding faults with laid floor.

You can even wait for doing next five cuttings that can be got done after a month or so when the painting, POP etc has been completed. Assign them afresh to another party.

Cutting edge

IF the flooring area of your house is large, don’t hire cutting machine. Prefer to give polishing work on contract basis. Cost of granite polish involving seven operations is around Rs 7 per sq ft of floor area. This includes arrangement of cutting machine and grit blocks by the polishing contractor himself. Time gaps are to be given between different cuttings and sometimes the machine rent crosses the cost of machine itself. So, it is better to get the work done on per sq ft rate basis. If the contracting party insists you arrange the machine and pay lesser, calculate its rent and see if buying the machine is economical. Later, it may be sold off or kept for use by yourself and friends.

Go ahead. Happy flooring!

The writer is deputy chief engineer, civil, PSEB. He can be reached at



BPTP bags Sap Ace Award

BPTP Limited has been awarded SAP ACE (Award for Customer Excellence) under the category ‘Best Engineering, Construction and Operations Sector Implementation - Midsize Enterprises’ from SAP India. Winners were chosen after an extensive multi-stage selection process powered by SAP India.

The SAP ACE awards span across three categories: overall, midsize and small enterprises. The evaluation process comprised four stages including scrutiny of the nomination form, shortlisting via interviews, onsite review and final assessment by the jury after a detailed panel discussion.

The management at BPTP had taken a decision to implement the SAP system to integrate a standalone legacy system in place to ensure centralised system for appropriate and accurate reports for decision-making. The company also wanted to integrate project management, and establish its linkage to materials, financials, and real estate sales processes, thus making the architecture complete and flow of action triggers to complex value-streams seamless.

Speaking on the occasion, Vilakshan Jakhu, Director (IT), BPTP Limited, said, “The SAP system has created an unparalleled transparency in our business operations which have enabled us better co-ordination between the departments. The document management system has eased and enhanced customer interactions.” He also said that the SAP Ace awards is a unique platform to recognise the small, mid size and overall enterprises, who have performed exceptionally well in the dynamic market scenario.

 Eminent members of the jury included D. D.  Purkayastha, CEO, ABP Limited, Sivashankar, CIO, Infosys, Vijay Sethi, CIO, Hero Honda, Kailashnathan, CIO, Titan Industries and T R Madan Mohan, industry analyst.

All eyes on Faridabad

REAL estate developer Piyush Group is about to announce the launch of its commercial IT unit named ‘Global i’ in Faridabad. The net worth of this ambitious project, spread over 3 lakh square feet area, is Rs. 210 crore and it is expected to be ready by 2010.

Designed by renowned architect Hafeez Contractor, Piyush Group’s ‘Global i’ has been designed on an eco-friendly pattern and provides for an infrastructure platform that is customised to meet all the needs of the IT industry. Apart from state-of-the-art offices, this IT unit of Piyush Group also boasts of a three-level basement parking system, a spacious cafeteria as well as a health club and spa.

Following the procurement of the letter of intent and sanction of the construction plan, work has commenced on this project. “Faridabad is a relatively untapped commercial market and its easy accessibility from Delhi makes it a lucrative investment option for domestic as well as multinational companies. The tremendous initial response that Global i has garnered shows that this hitherto unknown city is on its way to become a major IT hub of NCR. Two floors of this six-storied park have been sold-out even before construction started.” said Anil Goel, chairman, Piyush Group.

“We are also planning to set-up five well-equipped Service Rooms within the park so that visiting guests of the tenant companies have a comfortable place to stay,” Goel added. A 12% return on investment has also been assured for nine years to attract more investors for this project. — TNS



Anybody looking?

Residential areas are fast turning into commercial centres in Dehra Dun, reports UMESH DEWAN

DEHRA Dun, once synonymous with peace and tranquility, is fast turning into a chaotic town due to rapid urbanisation leading to a host of problems. In blatant violation of land use norms, residential areas in city are fast converting into commercial centres and the Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA) appears to have decided to look the other way. With MDDA miserably failing to check this illegal practice, the problems are acquiring alarming proportions.

As a result of indiscriminate change of land use, considerable chunk of residential colonies in city have already been converted into centres of commercial activities. Besides, on account of “sheer negligence” and highly irresponsible attitude of the authorities, educational institutions, shops and commercial complexes are being constructed in every nook and corner of residential areas in stark contravention of land use policy.

Action against unauthorised commercial establishments in residential areas is initiated at regular intervals. Notices are issued to violators and if they still continue commercial activities, buildings are sealed. In some cases where commercial buildings cannot be reused for residential purposes, the department resorts to demolition.

— Sham Mohan Sharma, MDDA spokesperson

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the land use policy was being flouted with impunity in most residential areas. Throwing all rules to wind and without seeking permission for change of land use, many localities developed as purely residential areas with specifically marked portions for commercial activity, have been put to commercial use. Nehru Colony, Dalanwala, Maharani Bagh and GMS Road are just a few posh residential areas where shops, restaurants, commercial complexes and other commercial establishments have come up.

Residents allege that the authorities were hand in glove with violators. “Without connivance of the officials, it is certainly not possible to raise commercial buildings in residential areas,” said Sanjay Rawat, a senior citizen.

The practice of running commercial establishments from residential areas has also lead to a plethora of civic problems. “We face traffic chaos, encroachment on public land, illegal squatting and crisis of power on a daily basis, as pressure on civic amenities has increased manifold on account of opening of commercial establishments,” said Neelam Joshi, a homemaker from Dalanwala.

Residents also said that commercial exploitation of residential colonies had become a nuisance, as people visiting the area for shopping park vehicles in front of their houses. People residing in many other areas also expressed similar views, while demanding immediate closure of all commercial establishments, illegally operating from residential areas.