Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Durga Shanker Mishra on Friday said the government will look into various demand of the real estate industry, including an extension of timeline for completion of projects by 6-9 months.
Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Durga Shanker Mishra on Friday said the government will look into various demand of the real estate industry, including an extension of timeline for completion of projects by 6-9 months. He highlighted various initiatives taken by the government in the past seven years such as development of 1.12 crore houses under the Prime Minister Awas Yojana (PMAY), launch of the Affordable Rental Housing Complex scheme for migrant workers, ‘infrastructure’ status to affordable housing, and 100 smart cities.
Mishra was addressing a webinar organised by realtors body NAREDCO. NAREDCO’s representatives made several demands before the secretary to revive both demand and supply in the sector that has been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The association sought extension of timeline for completion of projects by 6-9 months under the realty law RERA, extension of all building permissions till March 2023, rationalisation of government taxes on real estate, and control of rising prices of cement and steel.
It also sought reintroduction of interest subvention scheme, grant of input credit tax on GST paid in leased commercial real estate, suspension of insolvency law for some more period, and an online environment clearance system. Responding to the demand of extension of timeline for project completion, Mishra assured that he will “go in detail” to understand the matter.
“If need be, we will take this matter to RAC (RERA Advisory Council),” he said. However, the secretary did mention that this relief was given last year because of the imposition of the national lockdown. On high taxes levied by the central and state governments on real estate, Mishra directed the ministry’s senior officials to examine the matter in detail. “We will try to reduce government levies,” he said.
Regarding a rise in prices of steel and cement, Mishra said he took up this issue with the ministry’s concerned and would discuss the issue again. On the PMAY, he said 1.13 crore houses have already been sanctioned and out of that, 48 lakh have been completed and handed over to the people. The secretary informed that India’s ranking in ease of doing business related to construction activities improved to 27 from 186.
He said the new ranking is expected any time and expressed confidence that “we will be in top-20”. The secretary said the real estate sector contributes seven per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP). It is a USD 200-billion industry and set to become a USD 1-trillion sector with rapid urbanisation, he added. Emphasising on affordable housing, Mishra said the highest housing demand is in economically weaker section (EWS) and low-income group (LIG), and observed that the millennial also wants 2-3 BHK flats and not bungalows.
Talking about the Central Vista Project, Mishra said the new Parliament building will be ready next year. He also rubbished criticism about this project. At the outset, NAREDCO President Niranjan Hiranandani said the construction activities have slowed down because of the second wave, as only 50 per cent labourers are working on sites. He demanded that timeline for completion of projects should be extended as it was done last year.
NAREDCO Chairman Rajeev Talwar said all permission related to the development of projects should be valid till March 2023. Tata Housing MD and CEO Sanjay Dutt expressed concern about the abnormal price rise in cement and steel. He said steel prices have more than doubled while cement rates have gone up by 50-70 per cent in the past one year. Dutt also pitched for reintroduction of subvention scheme, under which builders agree to pay EMI on the behalf of homebuyers for a certain period.
Neel Raheja of K Raheja group put forward demand related to commercial real estate and sought inputbtax credit benefit. Rajan Bandelkar from Naredco Maharashtra said the second wave has more impact on the sector than the last year’s first wave. He demanded extension of timeline for project completion by 6-9 months as well as suspension of insolvency laws for some period. Ashok Mohanani, president of NAREDCO Maharashtra, was also present in the meeting. NAREDCO is one of the leading associations for the real estate sector with around 5,000 members.