Homing in on Jaipur
Jupinderjit Singh

Electoral rolls’ revision startles: The till-recently sparsely populated Vidhyadhar Nagar, Jhotwara & Sanganer now top development activity

THE real estate sector may be taking a breather in the Pink City but the last four years have seen massive and unprecedented urban migration. Statistics collected during the special revision of electoral rolls for the ensuing Vidhan Sabha and parliamentary elections have made sociologists -- already worried over "the ill-effects of urbanisation” -- sit up and take note.

Rapid urbanisation is most marked in three colonies on the outskirts of the city that developed prominently after the real estate boom. Vidhyadhar Nagar and Jhotwara in the northeast and Sanganer in the southeast are the base for new malls, colonies and tall buildings offering housing and commercial activity opportunities. Buyers were aplenty.

Though the growth of the area and occupation of buildings is yet to reach the potential target, the figures boldly state that the perceived development was not misplaced. The areas have recorded over 20 per cent increase. There has also been substantial increase after January 2008.

Even as greater and wider figures would be available only after the 2011 Census, electoral rolls are taken as an indicator to the projected data. The strong base figures have already become a talking point among developers, planners and analysts.

On the other hand, the voters’ list shows a negative trend in the lesser-developed Bundi and Bansgarh areas. Analysts say many persons migrated to Jaipur due to its numerous employment and business opportunities.

The Vidhyadhar Nagar Assembly constituency with 2.41 lakh voters has the highest number of electorates in the state now. With only those above 18 are eligible to vote, the figures suggest more than 3 lakh new inhabitants in the region.

Just some years ago, the area was barely inhabited. Not many wanted to stay here after the floods of 1980 when the Amani Shah Nullah that carried rainwater flowing down the Aravallis wreaked havoc and destroyed the place. Some years ago, the Jaipur Development Authority constructed a seven-sector housing-cum-commercial township in Vidhyadhar Nagar. Today, it boasts of four cinema halls, major food chains and stores and branches of all leading banks. Built on the lines of the Pink City, Vidhyadhar Nagar is the first modern housing area where it is mandatory for all buildings to be painted pink.

Prof Mohd Hassan, an expert on urbanisation and political and social patterns, terms the growth of Vidhyadhar Nagar as phenomenal. "It acted as a magnet to the populace. It is highly organised and boasts of a well-planned landscape that cannot be seen in any other area of the city," he explains. “The colony may be close to the Amani Shah Nullah but it has been built on a high plateau and is safe from floods like those caused by the seasonal rivulet in the 1980s.”

The downtown Jhotwara locality is notorious for flesh trade, narcotics and hooliganism. Here, people still think twice about venturing out after sunset but its notoriety did not hamper growth. Whopping 2.4 lakh voters were added here in the last five years.

Urbanisation in these two areas, situated close to each other, is expected to spiral further with the Homecity mega project.

The historical town of Sanganer has become part of the expanding city due to urban growth. Situated close to the Aerodrome, it too has its share of housing colonies, malls and hotels.

“There are now 2.28 lakh registered voters in the Sanganer belt,” says Rajasthan Chief Electoral Officer Vinod Zutshi. Till a decade ago, this number stood at about 50,000! Agreeing that the figures were startling, Zutshi adds, “All electoral rolls in the state have a photograph of the voter. So, there is no possibility of any error. All these persons definitely exist there.”

The population is expected to rise. As of now, nearly 25 per cent flats and apartments in colonies are vacant. They were purchased for investment purpose and owners are waiting for the opportune moment.

The smiles, right now, only belong to companies planning future projects or in the middle of executing existing ones. Omaxe Limited chairman and managing director Rohtas Goel predicts further growth. "Jaipur is one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities in the country. The growth is fuelled by the large number of employment opportunities that the city is throwing up as a new age economy takes root. The biggest advantage Jaipur has over other cities is its excellent road connectivity to Delhi. In fact, Jaipur is being viewed as an alternate to Gurgaon. The Delhi–Jaipur Expressway and new airport have also given fillip to the contemporary lifestyle and work culture in the Pink City."



Have money, will splurge
Shivani Bhakoo

Fun uninterrupted

THESE farmhouses have become the perfect place for partying. With Diwali approaching, the elite have already started holding card sessions at their palatial homes away from the city. The guests are well attended by the hosts and everything else is left on the caterers and caretakers.

FAR from the madding crowd, tranquility, greenery, not a trace of pollution, and that too within a radius of 15-20 km from Ludhiana. No joke this. Farmhouses on the outskirts of the industrial hub promise exactly this and much more. The only condition: You got to be loaded!

Now that’s hardly a problem in the city. With no dearth of money, leading a comfortable and luxurious life is top priority for the crème de la crème. Come what may, they find alternate ways to avoid uncomfortable situations. Peace of mind is top priority, provided you can afford it.

If realtors are to be believed, several hundred farmhouses are being constructed around the city in a radius of 15-20 km, mostly on Pakhowal Road, Ferozepur Road and in South City. A good farmhouse is generally constructed on at least 1,200 square yards with no upper limit.  Starting from huge lawns, these farmhouses come with just about everything one can ask for — swimming pools, card rooms, badminton courts, puja rooms, modular kitchens, spacious living rooms, guest rooms, home theatres and, of course, a separate area for drivers, caretakers and domestic help. Naturally, facilities on offer are directly proportional to paying capacity.

Sanjay Sabharwal of Sabharwal Real Estates, who has been in business for the past three decades, says that the trend to build farmhouses is a reflection of changing lifestyles. “Not long ago, people were content with a good home over 250-350 square yards. Not any more. They now want palatial homes with all comforts and luxuries. At times, customers just provide the specifications and state their paying capacity and we do the rest.”

Earlier, these farmhouses were weekend getaways but now many residents have shifted for good. Few mind the commute. It’s an exchange they have gladly made in return of neat, clean and quite environs, says Sabharwal. “Driving could be a problem, but if you have the money to buy a farmhouse, you can surely afford a chauffer! Going to work or sending the children to school is no problem. While you work on the laptop, the chauffer makes his way through the jams.” In fact, several of my clients’ kids have started enjoying the long drives, he adds.

Amit Basant, who also deals in realty, says that a new colony — Basant Avenue — has come up near the city where approximately 4,000 big houses, including several farmhouses, are being constructed. Similarly, at South City, people have spent more than Rs 4-5 crore on their houses. “Who says there is no land available? You only need to have the paying capacity,” says Basant.

A proud farmhouse owner, who did not want to be named, said that for him it was an investment to begin with. “I had some extra money and built the place for my family,” he tells of the 3,600 square yard farmhouse near Hambran. “Now, we all enjoy staying here in the peaceful environs. It is suffocating in the city. My kids love to come here to play with the two ponies and three dogs. They splash around in the swimming pool during summer I have also been organising parties and get-togethers here,” he says.

In a city where traffic snarls and hour-long holdups are almost routine, quietude comes for a price, but no one is complaining.



Living life King Size
Divya Semwal

WHILE man's quint-essential quest for adventure and discovery finds expression in travel, Uttarakhand offers several exciting and beautiful luxury apartments to its residents.  In today's time, desire for sheer comfort and serenity is not a fad but a necessity. The real estate business for past few years in the capital has undergone through a sea change. Once known only for its schools and heritage buildings, Doon has suddenly gained recognition for its upcoming luxury homes. 

The tremendous growth graph in real estate assures one of a sense of security and prosperity. Living is getting redefined in all aspects. First came Windlass and now comes luxury homes, Arborea by Conscient Infrastructure.  Situated on the Mussoorie bypass road, the apartments offer an unhindered view of the majestic mountains on one side and the lush green valley on the other. Sahastradhara, known for its natural sulphur springs, is barely 10 minutes away. The most spacious and luxurious apartments in the city, Arborea homes come with all ultra modern amenities one can think of. The three-bedroom option comes with a lounge and servant quarter and can set you back by Rs 60 lakh. 

Papinder Kaur, the public relations manager for Arborea, says that the response has been excellent. "Almost 70 per cent of the three BHK units have been booked.” Apart from the scenic beauty, the main attraction is a no-hassles environment. Without stepping out of the premises, residents would be able to enjoy all kinds of facilities from spa, swimming pool and clubhouse to a children's park. Shrishti Sharma, a teacher at Scholars Home, Dehra Dun, feels that that city and its residents are ready for luxury apartments. 

Interestingly, the concept is not restricted to the Doon valley. Nearby cities like Hardwar and Rishikesh are not far behind. Many builders like Aakash Ganga Associates are executing projects in these cities.

"Our expertise in real estate development extends well beyond the conventions. The most innovative techniques are employed in the development of townships and we keep abreast of developments worldwide,” tells a member of the staff based at Hardwar.

At a time when money walks and talks, luxury apartment in the lap of nature seem to be the perfect getaway to revitalise the heart and soul. Enhanced real estate participation, improved infra-structure and professional services are some key components that could catapult the state’s realty sector into the fast lane never ending bliss.



How fair are home loans?
S.C. Dhall

Amidst allegations of lower rates to new borrowers, MRTPC orders probe

THE Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) has ordered an investigation into the non-transparent manner in which banks compute interest rates on home loans and the discrimination between new and existing customers. Taking cognisance of media reports, the commission has asked its investigation wing and the director general, investigation and registration, to probe the alleged unfair pricing practices adopted by banks, particularly in disbursal of home loans.

The body had received several complaints that banks were offering lower home loan rates to new borrowers while continuing to charge higher rates from existing borrowers. Most banks -- whether public or private sector -- swiftly raise interest rates whenever there is a slight increase in the cost of funds. At the same time, they wait for a considerable fall in the cost of funds before slashing interest rates. It has been alleged that banks readily reduce rates while negotiating with new borrowers to beat competition from rivals. Also, the rate of interest is not property communicated to the customers.

The probe has come at a time when existing borrowers are feeling the pinch after the sharp escalation in their interest burden. A borrower opting for a floating rate, believing that his interest rate burden would ease if the cost of funds falls, is deprived of the benefit.

RBI cautions

THE Reserve Bank of India has cautioned commercial banks against rising non-performing assets (NPAs) in their home loan portfolio. Banks and its branches with significant exposure to real estate will come under greater scrutiny from the RBI and will have to shape-up their risk management system if they want to be aggressive in the business of lending to real estate.

Bad debt of housing loans in banking sector is rising and it is not possible for banks to give a break at this situation. NPAs that stood at about 4 to 5 per cent two years ago, have rise to 12 to 15 per cent and are likely to swell further.

The Indian banking sector disbursed a total of Rs 2,72,000 crore of loans to the real estate sector lakh till March 2008. Private sector banks have scaled down their exposure to this sector, partly due to rising defaults, whereas public sector banks have stepped up the pace.

SBI claims to be the biggest lender in the segment as far as fresh loans are concerned. Exposure to real estate sector covers housing and commercial real estate loans and lending by national housing banks and housing finance companies.

Meanwhile, the Indian Banks' Association has set up a sub-committee to monitor infrastructure projects in the country.



LIC eyes more of realty pie
S.C. Dhall

LIFE Insurance Corporation of India is making waves in the realty sector. The country’s largest insurer, which forayed into the real estate business in 2005, outbid other players in purchasing land across the country. With this, its real estate assets include 1,570 properties in the country with around 380 reserved for investment purpose.

The second largest property owner in the country after railways, LIC is scouting for land to develop commercial properties across the country. “We plan to develop the sites into commercial property. It will take a minimum of three to four years for the projects to be completed. There could be an IT park, and or offices leased out to corporates,” is all a tight-lipped senior official said. The corporation is learnt to have earmarked a few thousand crores for acquiring new properties and the spree is likely to continue.

Besides purchasing land, the insurer intends to develop existing vacant plots and redevelop old properties. LIC is interested in acquiring properties in Tier I and II cities for its own use and investment purposes. Returns on property are quite often higher than those from the stock market.

The corporation has also appointed a professional consultancy organisation for consolidating its real estate portfolio. The consultants would be required to identify suitable properties for investment and self-use.

LIC may also partner with local developers to set up commercial real estate projects. It has already purchased land in Madurai, Kolkata and Punjab. Besides, it has also invested Rs 400 crore on land deals in Delhi, Jaipur, and Kolkata. In a recent auction, LIC has purchased land from Punjab Urban Development Authority in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Mohali and Bhatinda, taking real estate prices in the state to a new high. The corporation clinched all deals – Rs 180 crore for 5.54 acres in Amritsar, Rs 228.26 crore for 3.6 acres in Ludhiana, Rs 464.12 crore for 9.6 acre in Mohali and Rs 76.54 crore for 16,973 square yards of land in Bhatinda.



Rang Barse!
Jagvir Goyal

Painting preserves and beautifies. Do it right the first time and have many years to enjoy your home. Painters often overlook the complexities of house painting. Often, a tip or two is all that is needed. For all tricks and tips from start to finish, just read on

THE next few episodes of this column will focus on guidelines for external and internal painting of your house. Many choices of painting material are available and the trend is to look for best-looking and durable paintwork, irrespective of the cost involved. However, simply buying the best and most expensive paints doesn't bring the desired results. Certain workmanship points too need to be kept in mind. Renaissance is the idea at the back of the mind when a house owner decides to repaint his house. The old paint needs to be removed and surfaces prepared. And, painting a newly-built house demands equal attention, as the first paintwork lays the foundation for all future works. So, a few guidelines given here and in next six episodes must be followed.

First check

BEFORE doing internal and external finishing work, ensure that all doors and windows have been installed in position, all electrical conduits, their boxes and fixtures embedded in walls and walls finished smooth. There should be no plaster finishing marks along the conduits. All plumbing and sanitary pipeline chases must have been filled and finished. Take some more precautions. Tape all the edges of switchboards and window frames. Put jute bags or waste clothes on the floor to save it from paint droppings. When painting external walls, remove your vehicles from the site and cover the plants and shrubs, if you can't move them. Cover all door and window fittings with polythene and tape to avoid messy blotches.

Colour Magic

DECIDE the colours you are going to in your home very carefully. Pastel shades of pink, green and blue bring a soothing effect to a room while yellow and red are very attractive and make the room look warm. In India, pastel colors are preferred as these look cool and soothing. Decide colour scheme as per your personal liking and comfort. Take a look at the effect of each colour and take your pick (see box).

Generally, a colour palette displaying hundreds of colours is available with paint dealers. Check it to choose shades of your choice. The present trend is to use a dark colour on one wall of a room to highlight it and project it as the feature wall while lighter colour is applied on the other walls.

If the walls and floor are light-coloured, a room will look bigger. So, choose light colours if you want your room to look bigger. If the ceiling is low, again choose light colours as these will enhance visibility in the room. If the ceiling is too high, apply a dark colour to it and see the room height decrease instantly. Shining and reflecting wall surfaces will also make the room look bigger. If you run a strip or band of colour all round a room, it will give a compact look.

Light & Shade

WHILE deciding the colour scheme, you must see how they look in artificial light. Generally, dark colours look brighter in artificial light while light ones appear suppressed. Shade cards don't give you the exact idea. Choose by visiting a friend's house or showrooms where you could see the colours on a wall. Before buying your total requirement, buy samplers (easily available now in most leading brands). Paint a small area of wall, allow it to dry and then decide. You just cannot go wrong this way!

Sequence it Right

PAINT a room in the following sequence: Always paint the ceiling first. That way, any drops trickling on to the walls will not be a problem. Next, do the walls and finally, the doors and windows. The most important part of painting, white washing and colouring your house is to find a really good painter. Take extra pain here -- a good painter can put an end to more than half your worries instantly.

Brand Matters

ALWAYS buy good quality paint from a reputed company. Never go for cheap and low quality paint even if the painter suggests so. Look for reputed names such as Asian, Nerolac, ICI, Berger and Jenson & Nicholson. Even if you choose a lower grade -- i.e. first, second or third quality -- let it be of a reputed brand. This will help in getting a well-finished surface. Buy the paint in one lot. Different manufacturing lots may have slight difference in appearance. So, to avoid a variation in shade and to have a uniform look, buying full quantity of paint in one lot is important.

Options Aplenty

A LARGE variety of wall and woodwork paints is available and it is difficult for the house builder to decide which paint to choose for each surface. For internal surfaces, the choice is between whitewash, colourwash, dry distemper, oil bound (oil emulsion) distempers, plastic (acrylic) emulsion paints and premium emulsion paints. For exterior surfaces, choice is between cement paints such as Snowcem, textured paints, semi acrylic emulsion paints, 100% acrylic emulsion paints, heritage finish, spectrum finish and cladding. For woodwork, choice is between synthetic enamel paint, French polish, polyurethane polish and melamine polish.

Calculation Time

WORK out the required quantity of each type of paint to be used by measuring the areas of the walls and the ceiling. Deduct the area of doors, windows, ventilators, openings, cupboards etc from the wall area. Work out the area of ceilings. If you can't work this out, as a thumb rule, multiply your floor area by 5 and this is the approximate total area to be painted. Different type of paints have different covering capacities. Wall emulsions such as acrylic, plastic and lustre cover about 80 to 150 sq ft. area a litre when applied in two coats. Acrylic and oil bound distempers cover 60 to 100 sqft per kg per two coats. Wood enamels cover 80 to 90 sqft per litre per two coats while transparent finishes cover just 40 sqft per litre per two coats. Exterior acrylic or textured can cover 50 to 75 sqft area per litre per two coats and cement paints cover about 30 sqft area per litre per two coats. Coverage capacity differs from company to company.

Cost Factor

FOR least cost of finishing work, the combination of paints is cement paint for external walls, dry or oil bound distemper for internal walls, French polish or synthetic enamel of second quality for woodwork and third quality synthetic emulsion for metals. For best quality work and no cost consideration, use a combination of dirt proof and weather proof 100 per cent acrylic exterior emulsion paint or heritage finish or spectrum finish for external walls, premium emulsion paint for internal walls, melamine or polyurethane finish for woodwork and first quality synthetic enamel for metallic surfaces. For medium cost and quality, use textured exterior emulsion paint or semi acrylic emulsion paint or cladding for external walls, low range plastic emulsion for internal walls, low range melamine or polyurethane polish for woodwork and second quality synthetic enamel for metallic surfaces.

More tips on paintwork will follow. Watch this space for more!

(This column appears fortnightly)

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



Will Matters
S.C. Vasudeva

Q. I have read in this column that self-acquired property can be willed to any person and legal heir has no right whatsoever. Is it so in the case of ancestral property which one gets it from the father or uncle and makes a will to a particular person? If so, then the purpose of Hindu Succession Act will be forfeited. Generally, a father receives ancestral house or agricultural land and wills it in the name of his sons, leaving the daughters aside, then the act becomes meaningless. Similarly, if a person has agricultural ancestral land to his name but has no son or daughter and wills it to any other relative, omitting his legal heirs, can this will be challenged?

— Resham Singh

A. In accordance with the provisions of Hindu Succession Act, 1956, a Hindu male has the right to make a will in respect of his interest in a joint Hindu family property, which share would be determined on the date of his death as the provisions of the aforesaid Act envisage a deemed partition on that date. He has no right to make a will in respect of any other part of the joint Hindu family property except his own share as stated herein above. Since he has a right to make a will in respect of his share, it can be made in favour of any person of his choice. It is presumed that the agricultural land inherited by the person in question is a joint Hindu family property. If that be so, the answer to your query would be as indicated in the above paragraph. I would, however, suggest that advice of a civil lawyer be sought on the matter, as the issue raised has civil law implications.

Q. My father-in-law, who expired on May 6, 2008, had five children – four daughters and one son — all married. I am the husband of his eldest daughter, who expired on July 1, 2004. I have three brothers-in-law, one of whom bodily lifted my father-in-law and presented him before the registrar, Tehsil Hoshiarpur, on April 24, 2008 days before his death. He got a will forcibly executed/registered regarding my father-in-laws self- purchased rural land. Now, the land is willed to the sons of this brother-in-law and another.

A thumb impression was fixed on the will in the absence of other parties. Is this will valid or it is challengeable in the light of the following:

  • The will was registered just 12 days before my father-in-laws death and he was very weak and not in fairly good senses.
  • Why was his thumb impression taken? He was educated, retired as a gazetted officer and had always been signing.

Are there any will rules available? Please quote.

— Gurmel Singh

A. Only your wife had the right to contest the will executed by the father. However, it will be better to consult a civil lawyer on the issue, as any decision on the issue should be taken on the basis of his advice.

Carry forward the balance

Q. I have constructed a house during the year and let out the same. The amount of rent received is less than the amount of interest payable to the bank in respect of loan taken for construction. The approximate amount of such excess of interest over the income from house property would be Rs 1 lakh. My other income from interest etc. would be approximately Rs 80,000 for the year ending March 31, 2009. If I am able to adjust such a loss against my other income, is it possible to carry forward the balance amount of Rs 20,000 to next year for adjustment against my income for the year ending March 2010?

— Anand

A. According to the provisions of Section 71B of the Income-tax Act 1961 (the Act), if the assessee incurs any loss under the head “income from house property” and such loss is not fully adjusted under any heads of income in the same assessment year, then the balance loss is allowed to be carried forward and set off in subsequent years (subject to a limit of eight assessment years) against the income from house property. On the basis of the above provisions of the Act, you would be entitled to set off the above loss of Rs 20,000 against income from house property for the year ending March 31, 2010.

Daughters can move court

Q. This is in continuation of your response in the column dated November 27, 2008 that daughters are legally entitled to a share in the father’s property. If the sons pressure the father and get his self-acquired property transferred in their names through registered deeds under family settlement, what legal recourse is left with daughters? The sons are planning to dispose off the properties so acquired at the earliest. 

 — Mohan R.

A. The family settlement is normally made when either there is a dispute between members or is likely to be. Further, all members who are part of the family always sign a family settlement. If the family settlement has been made excluding certain members, who have not assented to such a family arrangement, the execution thereof can be contested in court.

Maximum deduction Rs 1 lakh

Q. I own a residential flat in Gurgaon for which I am paying the installments towards the loan raised for buying the said flat. I am staying in a rented house in Delhi and am entitled to house rent allowance from my employer. Is it possible for me to get the deduction of both these amounts from my salary income?

— Rajesh

A. The receipt of house rent allowance and the allowability of deduction under Section 80C of the Act are two different issues. The receipt of house rent allowance, therefore, does not effect the allowability of deduction under Section 80C of the Act in respect of the repayment made towards the amount borrowed for acquisition/ construction of a residential house.

Accordingly, you should be entitled to claim the deduction of the installment paid towards the repayment of loan within the overall limit of Rs 1 lakh allowable under section 80C of the Act.

Further, you should also be able to claim the deduction of the house rent allowance subject to the permissible limit and fulfillment of conditions prescribed by Rule 2A of the Income-tax Rules 1962 read with section 10(13A) of the Act.

This column appears weekly. The writer can be contacted at [email protected]