Lets talk about Property

Is quake-prone Delhi ready for transit-oriented development as policy encourages skyscrapers?

The ministry of urban development has approved its transit-oriented development policy (TOD) to address the shortage of affordable housing, pollution, congestion and to ensure that people actually walk to work. The policy provides for a higher FAR of 400, enabling vertical construction or tall buildings within the influence zone extending to 500 metres on both sides of the mass rapid transit system (MRTS). 
While real estate and urban planners have welcomed the move, many structural design experts have expressed concern over rampant construction of tall structures in Delhi, which falls in the seismic zone IV category and is highly vulnerable to earthquakes.


“If a severe earthquake of 7 to 8 on the richter scale hits the capital, 80% of its buildings won’t be able to withstand it,” say experts, adding that the ministry has cleared FAR of 400 in the absence of a special building code for tall buildings.

A FAR of 400 is applicable to areas along metro transit routes in Delhi. What this means is that there will be a sudden spurt in growth of 40-storey and higher buildings in Delhi, similar to the super tall structures to be launched in the NCR. Not only will this be dangerous, it would also bring to the fore total lack of coordination between government ministries, claims Sandeep Shah, country head and MD - India, Miyamoto International, earthquake and structural engineers.

The Bureau of Indian Standards that is under the ministry of consumer affairs last year had promised to revise the National Building Code and come up with a specialised code for designing tall buildings. Nothing has been done as yet even though these are essential for constructing safe buildings with respect to earthquakes, Shah adds.

A stringent regulatory mechanism and not higher FAR of 400 is the issue here. Experts ask how, when buildings with a FAR of 250 are structurally unsafe, how can structures with a FAR of 400 be safe.

The crux of the problem lies in the regulatory mechanism. Today it’s considered a mere formality to get approvals for plans and structural drawings submitted to the authorities. There is no system in place that ensures that buildings have been done as per approved structural drawings. The inspection of the site before handing over the occupancy certificate merely certifies the planning/architectural parameters and not the structural parameters such as quality of reinforcements or beams.

Increasing FAR to 400 will increase the hazard level. The city requires a regulatory system for checking the adequacy of buildings. There are countries where the metro passes right through the buildings because the structural safety of the building has been regulated and ensured, says Abhay Gupta, director, Skeleton Consultants Pvt Ltd/ESCOM Consultants Pvt Ltd.

Structural safety experts are also sceptical about plans to construct TODs, and building a 100-storey marquee tower in east Delhi, especially Karkardooma and near Sanjay Lake because of the fragile soil in the area. “These projects are not feasible because of the presence of sandy silt on the river bed and a high water table. These areas are prone to liquefaction during an earthquake. There have to be guidelines issued by the authorities for the type of foundation to be constructed and the size of the structure in these areas because of these defects,” Gupta adds.


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Realty Trends

Home prices near most-affordable levels in over 30 years: HDFC

Home prices may have been on an upward spiral for many years, but the cost of owning a house in India remains near the most affordable level in over three decades, shows data compiled by mortgage giant HDFC Ltd.

The average price of a home, purchased with a housing loan, rose to over Rs. 45 lakh in the 2012-13 fiscal year -- marking the fourth consecutive year of uptrend from about Rs. 25 lakh in the year 2008-09, HDFC has said in a presentation.

However, factors like an even greater surge in the personal income levels, tax incentives and lower interest rates, have resulted into houses becoming more affordable to purchase, it said.



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India Property Investment Gyan

Major schemes for affordable housing to be modified: Girija Vyas

NEW DELHI: Major schemes meant for providing affordable housing to urban poor will soon be modified to make them more people-friendly, the government said today and invited the private sector to contribute more actively in this area. 

Speaking to reporters here, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) ministerGirija Vyas today said her ministry is modifying all the major schemes including the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), Rajiv Rinn Yojana and the, Affordable Housing in Partnership scheme and added enormous budgetary support has been earmarked during the current plan period. 

Secretary HUPA Arun Kumar Misra told reporters that a fund of Rs 35,000 crore had been allocated to the ministry for the implementation of three major schemes, including RAY, which was being run in as a pilot project earlier under 12th five- year plan. 

He said the ministry would require approval from the cabinet for the implementation of these schemes and efforts would be made that through these funds 2 million affordable houses are encouraged. 

He said that in addition to the central government funds, banks and credit institutions would be providing funds for construction of affordable houses. 

Vyas said that with urbanisation, the number of urban homeless and area under slums had grown. 

Vyas said there was a need for private developers to develop economic models to foster affordable housing for economically weaker sections and lower income group households in urban areas as government efforts in this direction needed to be supplemented. 

Vyas also said a technical group, set up by her ministry, had shown that out of 18.78 million housing shortage in the country, 96 percent shortage is in EWS and LIG category and for this huge investments and private sector participation were required. 

Misra said the group set up by the ministry has suggested incentives for the affordable housing sector included concessions to development-related charges and service taxexemptions. 

It also sought direct tax rebates for affordable housing projects and inclusion of the sector in the 'infrastructure facility' he said and added the task force had felt that governments need to still provide direct capital grant support to affordable housing projects. 

Misra said that in the symposium held today where states, experts and private sector representatives were present, there was unanimity on many of the suggestions.

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Green Property- Eco Homes

Reclaim your city space: Projects in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata aim to transform lives

Three projects in three cities aim to transform the lives of people who live close by. The one in Mumbai hopes to transform a congested area into a green precinct; the one in Delhi converted an open drain into a walkway, while Kolkata hopes to bring the crowds back...