By Anil Pharande
From the fast-emerging cities in countries like India and China to established urban centers in countries like the United States, UK and Europe, accelerated urban development has generated challenges of a scale not seen before in the history of civilization.
All’s not well with urbanization: Deteriorating air quality is a major concern through the urban sprawls of Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. In Beijing, the ever-escalating use of personal automobiles, industrial growth and the failure to phase out reliance on coal contribute to pollution frequently result in workplace hubs and schools having to close down. In the bustling metropolises of London, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and Mumbai, vastly inflated housing rates have priced out large segments of aspiring homebuyers.
All across the globe, growing cities are struggling to cope up with never-before-witnessed growth rates and the ensuing challenges to their liveability quotients. In more established cities, there is not enough affordable housing supply to meet demand.
Almost everywhere in the world, the blessing of economic and urban growth invariably brings with it the curse of reducing housing affordability, mounting challenges to health and safety, degradation of infrastructure and generalized urban chaos. In a country like India, farmlands get eaten up by development and agriculture itself becomes an untenable means of livelihood. Unsurprisingly, more and more people migrate to the cities from rural areas in search of employment and sustenance.
In the midst of the chaos and unchecked issues that rapid urbanization brings with it, one model of real estate development has come to the fore which can potentially save the day.
The Role of Integrated Townships: The integrated township was first tested and proven in more advanced countries, but it found rapid adoption in India because it provided a unified solution to a number of urbanization challenges.
In India, integrated townships are literally the only means available to offer citizens in fast-emerging cities like Pune the option of living in a healthy, dignified and enabled manner. They are oases of highly organized real estate development which provide a wholesome mix of commercial activity, housing and green open spaces that can exist regardless of how rampant urbanization development impacts the rest of the city.
Thanks to the fact that integrated townships follow a pre-determined development plan which is devised and approved before any concrete is poured, there is no danger of over-development, encroachment or excessive consumption of open spaces and public amenity areas like parks, gardens, and playgrounds. Many such townships give their residents the option to walk or cycle to work since they have their own captive business centers.
Townships development in the post-RERA era: Because of all the benefits it offers in terms of providing a way out of the effects of air pollution, infrastructure crunch and deteriorating inner-city life, the integrated townships model has been a singular chapter of success in the Indian real estate story. With the recent announcement of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), however, questions have been raised about how this model can continue. After all, large townships take many years to be completed, and RERA puts definite limits on project completion timelines.
However, there is a solution which township developers with sufficient capitalization will now adopt. Since townships are basically clusters of separate housing and commercial projects, the way forward is to register each of these projects separately under RERA and focus on completing them within the stipulated timelines. Developers may also take on partnering construction firms to increase the speed of deployment and help create the support infrastructure which is an essential feature of every integrated township.
This will result in an accelerated rate of development progress of the township as a whole without compromising on any of its features. Thanks to RERA, townships will now be built at a faster rate than ever before, making the concept of township living even more attractive to homebuyers who have set their sights on a healthier, less confused and more dignified lifestyle for their families.
(The author is Chairman, Pharande Spaces)