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Chennai to be slum free?

December 16, 2010 4 comments
Chennai slum free
 
With the State working towards making the city slum-free by 2013, KENNY ROGER MOISE and SHIVANI BAIL try and understand how this development is impacting the city and its inhabitants…
 
  Slum-dwellers live a hard life. Most often their problems pass under the radar of the authorities. No one repairs their (slum-dwellers) broken sewage lines, collects their garbage, sprays their locality with mosquito repellant, repairs their damaged transformers or files their First Information Reports (FIRs). It is no wonder then that their tenements are not pleasing to the eye. Now, with government officials aspiring to make Chennai a city on par with Singapore, these slums seem to have become dispensable. But aren’t they citizens of this city too?
   At present the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB), which carries out projects to improve the living conditions of the urban poor, is working on three projects – housing for the tsunami-affected and vulnerable families, housing under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and repair and renewal works on existing settlements. A Ramalingam, Managing Director, TNSCB, says, “We have completed 8,314 tenements out of our requirement of 13,891 tenements for families affected by the Tsunami disaster at an estimated cost of 568 crore. Under the JNNURM scheme, we have undertaken the construction of 35,270 tenements at an estimated cost of 1,504 crore. We have already completed the construction of 17,376 houses. This is part of our initiative to make Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore, slum-free.”
 
   Most of these housing projects seem to have been developed to house the people displaced as a result of the government’s aggressive development stance. The Cooum Beautification Project which was announced in December 2009 and the Elevated Expressway project announced in March 2008 are two such projects. While the beautification project seeks to clean the 72 kilometre-long Cooum River, the Elevated Expressway Project, which is already underway, is a 19 kilometre long corridor that will connect the Chennai Port to Maduravoyal; large parts of this project pass through slum settlements along the Cooum. “The initial proposal for a freight corridor from the Port to the National Highway was made by the engineering consultancy firm, L&T Ramboll for a stretch of 8.5km,” says Nityanand Jayaraman, a city-based environmental activist. “This proposal was less expensive and did not affect any slum settlements. However, this was disposed and a new proposal was made for a 19km corridor from the Port to Maduravoyal based on a feasibility report by an international transportation and infrastructure consulting firm, Wilbur Smith Associates. This road curves along the Cooum River and is expected to displace nearly 18,000 families when it gets completed.”
 
   Work on both projects has already begun. “The Pudupet slum (next to Chintadripet), Jyotima Nagar slum and the M K Stalin Nagar slum (on either side of the Choolaimedu bridge) have already been evicted as a result of these two projects,” says R Geetha, National Additional Secretary of the Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangham and Advisor, Unorganised Workers Federation. “People from these slums have been sent to the Okkium Thoraipakkam settlement on Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR). They have lost their livelihoods in the process.” Houses constructed as part of the Emergency Tsunami Reconstruction Project (ETRP) in Thoraipakkam now house slum-dwellers from across the city; even from as far as Ayanavaram, Kilpauk and Parrys. “Most of these people travel back into the city to work and end up sleeping on the pavements instead of travelling all the way back home,” says V Manimekalai, a volunteer with the Unorganised Workers Federation and a resident of the Thoraipakkam settlement. “They sometimes don’t return home for a month at a stretch.” How many such people are being evicted? “As per a study published in the Economic and Political Weekly, around 18,000 families will be evicted along the Cooum River for both the Cooum Beautification Project and the Elevated Expressway Project,” says Nityanand.
 
   The government, on the other hand, believes that the evacuation of these slums is important, as the people living there are vulnerable to fire accidents and floods.
 
   “Several settlements along water ways and road ways in the city are densely populated, yet the people in these settlements survive with hardly any amenities,” says Ramalingam. “Just because they have adjusted to these conditions does not mean they should be left to live like this. Apart from considering their well-being, it is also important to consider the environmental impact of their settlements on the river banks.”
 
The conditions in which evicted slum-dwellers live in are hard to imagine. Consider the Thoraipakkam slum. Constructed by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) in 2009, this settlement has now become famous for all the wrong reasons. “Despite housing around 15,000 families (around 65,000 people) the Kannagi Nagar slum in Thoraipakkam does not have even one Primary Healthcare Centre,” says Geetha. “Women have delivered their children in autos and buses on their way to the city on several occasions,” says Manimekalai. Apart from this, the lack of employment in the slum forces young men to adopt a life of crime. “In some parts of Thoraipakkam, residents have to pay local goondas for electricity, water and rent,” says Manimekalai, “Several deaths have taken place here as a result of people refusing to pay them. The police don’t help us; they file FIRs only after someone gets murdered.” Water is also a big problem in these slums. “A month ago, we used to get water only once a month. Now the situation has improved and we receive water twice a week. However, the tank from where we get our water is very dirty. It is uncovered and often contains slippers, plastic bags and mosquito larvae,” says Manimekalai.
 
   The government, on its part, has made some effort to resolve these multifarious problems. “Tenements in Okkium Thoraipakkam and Semmencheri have been developed as integrated townships in coordination with the concerned agencies. TNSCB has co-ordinated with the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) to ensure that the frequency of buses that go via Thoraipakkam to important destinations of work in Broadway, Egmore, Adyar, Saidapet, Tambaram, Velachery, among other places, is sufficient for the large number of people who live there,” says Ramalingam. “To ensure the livelihood of the new settlers, a package of services for economic development is being provided; this includes valueadded training programmes, referral services and job fairs in coordination with IT companies and other private sector companies. So far livelihood projects including skill training, formation of self help groups (SHGs) and other activities have been carried out to benefit 22,521 people at a cost of 488 lakh.”
 
   Are these efforts enough of a substitution for the big change that the government is forcing the poor to make? At the end of the day, their development needs must be considered too. After all, without them our houses wouldn’t get built, our homes wouldn’t get cleaned; in short, without them our development would not be possible.
 
Times of India, Epaper, Property Times – 11 December 2010

A PROBLEM OF PLENTY – IT Parks

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

The setting up of TIDEL Park on OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road) in 2000 set the tone for a slew of IT developments in Chennai.When Chennai woke up to the possibilities and opportunities that the IT and ITES sector presented,it lapped it up – a little too aggressively,perhaps.Although the demand for IT space in the city was good to start with (with absorptions of over 5 million sq ft in 2005-2006 ),it (the demand ) has been slipping considerably since then.Despite the dip in demand,new IT Parks started mushrooming in the city and suburbs,thus widening the gap between supply and absorption.As of now,the absorption rate (of IT space) in Chennai is about 3 million sq ft of the total IT space.
One of the reasons for this unplanned supply,as most promoters and consultants point out,is the fact that IT Parks enjoy a lot of subsidies.Rajesh Babu,Chief Consultant,RECS Group,a professional real estate consultancy services group,explains,”The Government has extended plenty of subsidies to IT Parks in a bid to encourage their growth.For instance,IT Parks have the advantage of increased FSI (3.5 – 3.75) and there are no zone restrictions – which means,they can be constructed even in residential areas.Bascon IT Park in T Nagar and Ramaniyam – Baid Hi-Tech Park in Thiruvanmiyur are cases in point.In addition,IT Parks also enjoy certain tax exemptions,electricity concessions,etc.”All this,he adds,led to speculative investments that created a perception of increased demand.It also encouraged developers to diversify and look at IT Parks as lucrative options,resulting in a development of millions of sq ft of IT space,a lot of which still remains vacant.

Ajit Chordia,Managing Director,Khivraj Tech Park,agrees.”The demand-supply mismatch can only be attributed to huge supply.With a cumulative space of about 18 million sq ft,it has been very difficult for the demand to catch up with the supply.There were no trade bodies that sent warning signals and even Government bodies like ELCOT (Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited) did not analyse or even foresee this demand-supply situation.”The demand for IT spaces in 2005-2006 gave most promoters the perception that demand will soar in the future.The recession,though,shook the market and the absorption spiralled down to about 2.2 million sq ft in 2008 from close to 3 million sq ft in 2007.

However,the oversupply situation is more pronounced in the city’s peripherals,while IT Parks in the city continue to be fully occupied.And this brings us to the question of location of the IT Park,which most promoters believe,is crucial to its sustenance.Jair DSouza,GM – Sales and Marketing,Shapoorji Pallonji & Co Ltd,a company that owns SP Info City,an IT Park in Perungudi,says,”Places like OMR,Ambattur and even parts of GST Road have a lot of IT Parks – OMR alone has about 50 IT Parks.But do people want to set up offices in these places Lack of social infrastructure in these areas is a huge hindrance;transportation and connectivity need attention too.How can an IT Park in places that lack basic infrastructure attract offices This is precisely why parts of Ambattur and OMR have an oversupply situation.”

That apart,the quality of amenities within the IT Park also helps determine its level of occupation.ELCOT defines an IT park as “a building built on a minimum 2,000 sq m of land with certain infrastructure facilities like telecom connectivity,air-conditioning and power back-up,to name a few”.
 Times of India, 13 Novermber 2010

Profiling GST, OMR and Oragadam

September 18, 2010 Leave a comment
HOLISTIC LIVING

With rising population,integrated townships are poised to be the next big thing in Chennai,even as suburbs in the city play host to a number of such projects.RADHIKA RAMASWAMY visits three important corridors in the city to find out more

GRAND SOUTHERN TRUNK (GST)

The 20-kilometre stretch from Tambaram to Maraimalai Nagar on GST Road could well be mistaken to be within city limits.Such is the development here. GST Road has been touted as a premium industrial corridor and connects all the Southern districts of the State to Chennai via both road and rail. Home to manufacturing giants, IT majors, schools and colleges, the road, over the past three years, has turned into a commercial hub of sorts. One of the first companies to set up its unit on GST Road was Team (Team co Hitech Enginering Ltd) in Vandalur (20 years ago). This was followed by a series of developments in and around Maraimalai Nagar. Mahindra World City,an integrated township,spread across 1,500 acres,developed in the year 2000 transformed the landscape of GST and triggered the growth of integrated townships in this area.Arun Excello’s Estancia and Shriram Properties’ The Gateway are upcoming integrated projects here.”While OMR is IT-centric, GST is a mix of IT, telecom, automobile and ancillary units,”says P Suresh,MD,Arun Excello.”The city has reached a saturation point in terms of significant residential development.With Chennai expanding and peripheral areas playing host to large-scale industrial boom,self-contained townships have become the order of the day.”

OLD MAHABALIPURAM ROAD (OMR)

The OMR phenomenon occurred in the late 90s. What was once a stretch with green patches and large land parcels on either side of the road has evolved into a premier IT corridor.Tidel Park was the first IT establishment to foray into OMR,which is now called Rajiv Gandhi Salai. This was followed by the mushrooming of several other IT parks.Today,over 2.7 lakh people work out of here. “The IT boom led to an unprecedented residential demand along the stretch and several residential projects have come up since 2000,”says K K Raman,Vice-President,DLF Homes “Nobody has the time or the energy to go to far-away places for entertainment and recreation. People prefer everything right from education to healthcare centres in the vicinity of their homes. This is where integrated townships come into play. An integrated township is not just about a home. It is about creating a lifestyle that takes care of every single need of the resident.”DLF Homes is coming up with a 58-acre integrated township project called Garden City in Shollinganalur. Over the next two years,the number of people working in OMR is expected to cross four lakhs. With this,the demand for gated communities will only increase. There are currently over five full-fledged integrated townships on OMR.

ORAGADAM AND SRIPERUMBUDUR

Oragadam,centrally located between Grand Southern Trunk and NH4,has been touted as Chennai’s largest and the most developed industrial belt. With over 22 Fortune 500 companies (of which six are global car manufacturers),the Sriperumbudur-Oragadam belt has seen tremendous industrial growth in less than four years. The area is well-connected via road and rail and according to industry experts,the presence of automobile giants like Renault and Nissan and Ford has triggered growth around Oragadam. Several manufacturing giants such as Motorola, Dell, Flextronics, Samsung, Nokia, Apollo Tyres,and TVS Electronics,have set up their respective units in the industrial belt stretching from Sriperumbudur to Oragadam. Three integrated townships – Arun Excello’s Temple Green,Hiranandani (Hirco Group)’s Palace Garden and Inno Geo City are being developed in Oragadam. Aniruddha Joshi,Executive Director,Hirco Group,Says, “Today,owning a home in the city has become cumbersome and costly. The only solution to the spiralling price and increasing interest rates on home loans is to own a property in an integrated township coming up in the outskirts of the city. The new industrial corridor foraying into places like Oragadam will generate new jobs and will attract people to relocate out of Chennai. Our township will provide them with homes that are located conveniently close by. We are building the whole infrastructure from the ground up – roads,electrical power,telecommunications backbone,water and sanitation. By doing so,we reduce our townships dependence on the public infrastructure and make them self-sustaining – a key differentiator in a country where the public infrastructure is under considerable pressure.”That apart,today’s buyer profile consists mainly of young people,who want to fulfil their aspirations at the earliest.Moreover,these buyers want all this,within the constraints of a certain level of pricing. Townships are an ideal option for such buyers,due to the inherent advantages of economies of scale – they offer various amenities,at relatively lower price points.

 

Times Property, Times of India, 18 September 2010

OMR in big demand by premium realtors

September 6, 2010 Leave a comment

 

OMR Apartments

 

If there is an area that reflects the fortunes of Chennai’s residential real-estate, it must be the Old Mahabalipuram Road or the IT corridor to the south of Chennai. Now formally known as the Rajiv Gandhi Salai, it has been the centre of attraction for developers and buyers when at peak pricing in 2007 or the steep decline a couple of years later.  

Now it has come a full circle. The market is on an upswing and has hit new highs, say developers.  

Prices swing up  

The 40 km of road running south, beginning from Madhya Kailash in Adyar, saw soaring prices as the country’s leading builders, including Hiranandani, DLF, Mantri, Puravankara and L&T, launched projects a few years ago. But then came the dip in 2008-end that saw prices and demand take a beating. A classic case being that of DLF which launched a township project about 20 km down the OMR with units priced at Rs 2,700 a sq.ft in December 2007, which was then considered aggressive pricing, hiked it to Rs 3,200 in a few months, only to slash it below launch prices in 2008-end. But that is a distant memory.  

New projects at higher price points are fast being announced and as rapidly sold. Compared with the earlier highs, the difference now is that more local players are venturing into the market but stick close to Chennai. These are premium projects by leading local brands that earlier ignored OMR as too volatile. These are leading players such as Appaswamy Real Estates and Ceebros who clearly segment the OMR market and see value in locations close to the city.  

One exception, though, is Akshaya Homes, a local player which has done a dozen projects — residential and commercial — along the OMR, beginning with Kelambakkam about 20 km down OMR. Mr T. Chitty Babu, Akshaya’s promoter, says he chose to start further from the city, well beyond 20 km from Adyar, when OMR was opening up as a market and land prices were low. Now its projects are closer to the city to take advantage of higher pricing as the market is more established.  

Thus his initial projects were priced around Rs 3,000-4,000 a sq.ft at Kelambakkam. Last year, during the low, he opted for a budget housing project at Rs 2,750 a sq.ft.  

But now, in line with the recent trends, Akshaya Homes will soon launch high-end homes of 3,000-4,000 sq.ft at Perungudi close to the city and also Kelambakkam, but the pricing is yet to be decided, he says.  

Support infrastructure  

Mr T.S.S. Krishnan, COO, Appaswamy Real Estates, while acknowledging that the OMR is back on track, points out that it should not be looked at as a single market unit. Sufficient developments in road and support infrastructure close to the city have helped attractthe interest of home buyers.  

So Perungudi and Kottivakkam, which are a few minutes drive from Adyar, are now as much in demand as any location in the heart of the city. Appaswamy Real Estates has launched a couple of projects at Kottivakkam. The price range is between Rs 60 lakh and Rs 1 crore at about Rs 5,000 a sq.ft. One project with 130 apartments is fully sold and in the other with 70 units, a joint development, the company has sold off its share of units, he said.  

Another premium builder, Ceebros with its first project on the OMR at Thoraipakkam, has over 350 apartments coming up for delivery in end-2011. An apartment of about Rs 1,200-1,600 sq.ft costs about Rs 4,750 a sq.ft. Mr Subba Reddy, Managing Director, Ceebros Property Development, says the location is the key to the success of the project.  

Mr R.V. Shekar, Managing Director, Lancor Holdings, says the demand and pricing of residential units in its Central Park South project at Sholinganallur are at levels seen in the peak seasons of 2007. Pricing here is around Rs 3,975 a sq.ft in the third phase of development. The cost of ownership of a 1,650-sq.ft apartment is over Rs 70 lakh. Except for about a dozen residential units the project has been fully sold.  

Lancor plans to launch the next phase of over 200 apartments soon. “It is the road of the future,” he says. The large concentration of IT companies will attract the workforce that will need residential space.  

The difference then and now is that the OMR has better facilities now. Whether for education, healthcare or entertainment, facilities are now available.  

Mr Mehul Doshi, of Doshi Housing, which has positioned itself in the mid-income segment, in the suburbs of Chennai, says  

Doshi Housing is set to launch a project on the OMR at Karapakkam just ahead of Sholinganallur. The 11-acre project to be launched early next year will have over 1,200 apartments. There is a concern on oversupply along the OMR but projects close to Chennai see no cause for concern, he says. That would apply to localities up to Siruseri, 20 km south of Chennai, he says confidently.  

Depending on the projects the market will support a pricing of around Rs 3,500-5,000 a sq.ft, he says. Doshi’s own project planned at Karapakkam is likely to be priced around Rs 3,750-4,000 though the final decision will be only at the time of launch. Hindu Business Line, 29 August 2010

Costs drive home dreams to Suburbs

 

Aspiring homeowners are now looking to relocate beyond the city suburbs, with private builders offering dream homes in affordable townships in these areas, complete with entertainment, schooling and hospital facilities.

With land becoming sparse and costlier within city limits, the only option for the builder is to amass at least 3,000 acres of land in rustic corridors off OMR, ECR or GST, says C. Devadasa Sundaram, chairman and MD, CeeDeeYes, whose upcoming township Chennai Pattinam, on OMR near Thiruporur has flats ranging from Rs 22 lakh to 45 lakh.

“A township is economically viable for both the builder and the consumer, only if we are planning to accommodate 3,000 families in comfortable two or three BHK homes, and provide schools for the kids, a mall, multiplex,” he says.

Even as private builders are catering to a large middle class segment that is ignored by government projects, they do seek participation from the state. “While we have taken care of other infrastructure like sewage, electricity and water, we have recently written to the government to improve the road facilities,” Mr Sundaram says.

Apart from smoothening unmotorable road tracts, the government must take a keen interest in reducing construction costs, says Nakshatra Roy, True Value Homes. “Material like doors, windows and tiles are much cheaper to import, but when faced with the levy of 30-40 per cent on such items, the builder will have no choice but to pass it on to the buyer, who is already burdened with EMIs,” explains Mr Roy.

Deccan Chronicle, 2 Aug 2010

Railway link to Puduchery to link OMR and ECR

August 2, 2010 1 comment

 

CHENNAI: The east-coast railway line from Chennai to Puducherry just got a little closer to realisation as Southern Railway has okayed the final location survey to identify land use and cost.

Part of an ambitious plan to connect Chennai to towns along the East Coast all the way up to Kanyakumari, railway board has given the go ahead to build the line from Chennai to Cuddalore at a cost of Rs 523 crore. This, however, may go up to Rs 600 crore. The board has approved the new line by including it in the supplementary budget of September 2007. The last railway budget had allocated Rs 25 crore for initiating the project.

The railway line between Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) and East Coast Road (ECR) will connect Sholinganallur, Kovalam, Tiruporur, Mamallapuram, Kalpakkam, Kuvathur, Cheyyur, Marakanam, Kunimedu, Kuiyilappalayam, Jipmer in Puducherry, Bahour, Varakalpattu, Tirupadipuliyur and Cuddalore Fort. The line will run close to the sea at Mamallapuram.

“We have awarded a contract to carry out a final location survey. It will also identify from where the line should take off – Perungudi or Chengelpet,” said Southern Railway chief administrative officer R Ramanathan.

According to initial plans, the 180-km line will take off from Perungudi MRTS station. But, there is also a view that the line should start from Chengelpet so that it can be used for freight transport. “If it starts from MRTS, we cannot operate freight trains,” he added.

Southern Railway would explain to the Board about the pros and cons of starting the line from Perungudi and Chengelpet. “The line can be linked to Perungudi and also Chengelpet,” he said. If it is linked to Chengelpet, the coastal line can be connected to the main railway network through the Chennai Egmore-Kanyakumari southern trunk line.

Meanwhile, a Perungudi-Cuddalore line will enable passengers to board an Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) to Mamallapuram and then switch to conventional trains to Puducherry or Cuddalore. Travellers will be able to reach Puducherry in two hours, as against the five hours via the current line through Chennai Egmore-Villupuram-Puducherry.

The survey, which is the final leg of procedures before a new line gets approval, will assess the land required and identify plots through which the line would pass. Surveys to identify passenger feasibility on the route have revealed that the line will be viable as more people travel? from Chennai to Puducherry and Cuddalore because of the recent developments along the OMR and ECR.

“After completing the final location survey, we will prepare an estimate and send it to the railway board for sanction of funds. The project may cost Rs 600 crore,” said Ramanathan.

Times of India, 2 August, 2010

Housing for Slum dwellers

CHENNAI: Giving green signal to the state government’s move to create 3,000 more tenements for slum-dwellers and tsunami-affected people, the Madras high court has dismissed a PIL against the re-settlement project at Kannagi Nagar in Okkiam Thoraipakkam off Old Mahabalipuram Road (Rajiv Gandhi Salai).

A division bench comprising Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice KK Sasidharan, rejecting the PIL of Susetha, however, directed the authorities to provide clean and safe environment for the locality, where already more than 12,500 families living on the banks of Cooum, Adyar rivers and Buckingham canal had been relocated.

Underlining the government’s constitutional duty to safeguard the citizen’s right to life, the judges said: “Right to life under Article 21 does not mean an animal life, but to living life with human dignity.”

Advocate R Vaigai, counsel for the petitioner, sought to restrain the authorities from reclaiming or filling land in the Okkiam Thoraipakkam village off the OMR, and wanted the court to ban construction of any more tenements for slum-dwellers. Infrastructure facilities such as drinking water and drainage were not enough for even existing families, and the area was a marshland as per the 1911 settlement register, she said.

Advocate-general PS Raman, however, said the state had to shift about 50,000 families from various slums in the city, and that the area was not a marsh. Distinguishing the area from the Pallikaranai marshland, Raman said the PIL had been filed due to mistaken belief and political ill-will.

When the PIL was admitted a couple of years ago, the earlier bench had appointed an expert committee to go into the issue and furnish a report. The committee, too, felt it was an ecologically sensitive area where no further construction activities should be permitted. Instead, the entire region could be handed over to the forest department, it recommended.

The judges, rejecting the recommendations and censuring the committee for drifting beyond the terms of reference, said Okkiam-Thoraipakkam did not fall under the prohibited zone and that it was neither a marshland nor backwater area, as claimed by the petitioner.

Directing the authorities to provide hygienic and clear living environment in the region, the judges said civic neglect of basic needs would turn the residents towards anti-social activities. “The state is burdened to provide not only mere living rooms but also living conditions to the residents,” the judges observed, adding that the state and its organs should secure the rights and interests of citizens and ensure their life with dignity.

Times of India, 29 July 2010

School’s attractive for Townships

June 12, 2010 2 comments
SCHOOL’S IN!

 

Barrack Obama famously said, “We now live in a world where the most valuable skill one can sell is knowledge.” Education is one of the most important pointers of a country’s growth and development, a trend made evident by the numbers of schools becoming part of real estate projects. RAMESH NAIR writes on education and townships…

Integrated townships are fast becoming an important start towards decongesting crowded cities in India and concepts such as LiveWorkPlay (LWP), walk-to-work and walk-to-school are gaining popularity everyday. A large integrated township should therefore offer on-site social infrastructure such as a nursery, a crèche, a primary school, a composite school, a polyclinic and dispensary, a community hall, a reading library, convenience shopping, play grounds, parks, a police station, public parking, a bus, fire and train station, as well as a post office and EWS housing, for the informal service providers of the township, who will support the resident population. 

Developers are now making these amenities an integral part of their marketing strategy, as they market their projects. Self-contained townships will naturally result in the optimisation of land use, ensuring economies of scale, an increase in housing facilities and improved standards of infrastructure-related facilities; in addition to all of the above, these townships will also have incentives and safeguards, built into the project, which will ensure planned development. 

The real estate community can play a significant role in expanding the educational sector, as the country still lacks quality educational infrastructure. As most of the new developments are coming up in the peripheries, not having the right educational facilities could act as a big deterrent when developers attempt to attract prospective customers. Many developers are also taking this opportunity to project the provision of these facilities as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
   

However, developers need to realise that one size does not fit all when it comes to setting up schools and colleges. They need to closely evaluate the project, study the target segment and formulate a strategy that caters to the educational needs of the occupants of the development. They should also make sure they evaluate the education providers, in terms of qualitative and quantitative parameters. The area allocation should be based on the projected population. All such educational facilities should also have adequate amenities and playground facilities.
   

The government, on its part, can encourage the participation of more and more developers, in improving existing educational infrastructure, by providing for extra Floor Space Index (FSI) and more tax rebates for developments that also house educational facilities.
   

There is a continuous rise in the amount of money that Indian households spend on education. Some surveys indicate that Indians spend close to nine percent on education, which is second only to the amount spent on food and groceries. Indians also spend nearly $4.5 billion, annually, to send their children abroad for higher studies and technical training, with nearly 500,000 students making the move every year. New initiatives such as the Right To Education Bill (RTE), which makes education the fundamental right of every child between the age of six and 14 and the Foreign Universities Bill, which allows foreign education providers to set up campuses in the country, will create the need for more educational facilities.
   

For every parent, finding the right school is one of the most important responsibilities they have. For those who invest in real estate markets with quality educational facilities, the upside of Return on Investment is greater than those who buy homes in markets lacking good educational facilities. Good schools not only ensure that property values will grow over the long-term but they also, largely, indicate that they may be a safer investment if the market sees a downturn.
   

Communities with strong educational systems bounce back quicker than others, in case of a downturn. As per standards laid down by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), schools established within the city need a minimum land area of one acre; while those in the peripheries should have at least two acres.
   

Schools established in townships, which are also in peripheral areas of the city, have a built-up area of 40,000 to 80,000 sq ft. Most schools have either two or three sections, with classes sizes ranging up to 30 in the primary section and 45 in the secondary. Typical classroom dimensions are around 25 sMost of the schools coming up in the peripheral townships have a built up area of 40,000 to 80,000 sq ft. Most schools have either 2 or 3 sections with class sizes of 30 students in primary and up to 45 in secondary; typical classroom dimensions are around 625 sq ft.
   

Schools should also note that they should tie up with a developer who can deliver. A township is an incredibly capital intensive activity, with payback periods taking several years. Only developers with deep pockets can create townships, as the investment in land is huge and the turnaround time is long, given the various clearances required. Conversions and approvals also pose barriers. Another challenge is that very few developers have the track record, project execution, financial ability and expertise in delivering such projects.

SOME SURVEYS INDICATE THAT INDIANS SPEND CLOSE TO NINE PERCENT ON EDUCATION
   

THE REAL ESTATE COMMUNITY CAN PLAY A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN EXPANDING THE EDUCATIONAL SECTOR, AS THE COUNTRY STILL LACKS QUALITY INFRASTRUCTURE

Ramesh Nair is Managing Director (Chennai and
Hyderabad), with Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj. He can be reached at ramesh.nair@jllm.co.in

QUICK BYTES 

Times Property, Times of India , 12 June 2010

Stalin vows non-stop water supply to OMR

CHENNAI: The water-starved IT corridor, also known as Rajiv Gandhi Salai or the Old Mahabalipuram Road, will get continous water supply before December 2010, deputy chief minister M K Stalin assured on Friday.

On completion of the ongoing infrastructure work, at least 20 million litres of water would be guaranteed each day to consumers located between Madya Kailash and Siruseri, Stalin said while moving the demand for grants for municipal administration and water supply department in the state Assembly.

The work to provide water supply and sewerage connections along the corridor was taken up in 2007 at an estimated cost of Rs 41.77 crore. The corridor houses more than 16 IT majors such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant, WIPRO, HCL and Polaris and another 250 smaller firms — together they provide employment to 1.2 lakh people.

These companies rely heavily on water tankers that bring water from irrigation wells in the neighbouring panchayats of Mambakkam, Kovilambakkam, Pallikarnai, Ottiyambakkam, Nanmangalam, S Kolathur and Sittalapakkam panchayats.

Recently, some of the offices had to shut down for a day when tanker owners went on a flash strike, protesting against the seizure of vehicles by revenue for illegal extraction of groundwater for commercial use. The problem was sorted out after representatives of the IT majors took it up with the Kancheepuram district collectorate and Stalin.

“We welcome the government’s gesture. It will be truly a blessing for all of us,” said NASSCOM regional director K Purushothaman.

The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB), the agency implementing projects on the IT corridor, faced initial hiccups in laying pipelines along the corridor due to laying of service lanes, stormwater drains and ducts of various agencies. “All these problems have been sorted out and almost 75% work is complete,” said Shiv Das Meena, managing director of CMWSSB. The department has laid sewer and water pipelines for about 17 km on the eastern side of the corridor.

“At present sewer lines are being laid on the western side, after which water lines will be laid. We have also laid distribution mains between Kelambakkam and Pallipattu for about 34 km as part of the IT corridor project,” Meena told TOI.

The agency also plans to complete water supply schemes soon in Porur, Maduravoyal, Avadi, Alandur, Ambattur, Ullagaram-Puzhuthivakkam, Tiruvottiyur and Nerkundran.

Times of India, 24 April 2010

High demand and low vacancy; increases mall rental values

MALL 

Mall Development 

 The largest mall in Chennai – Express Avenue is expected to be operational in 2Q with approximately 80% of the mall already occupied.

 The mall witnessed strong demand during the quarter due to strong anchor brands and anticipation of operations beginning allowing for strengthening of quoted rentals by 10-15%. In under construction malls on the southern peripheral locations rentals remained stable as demand continues to be focused within city limits.

The significant space absorption and demand coupled with low vacancy rates of 1-2% is allowing for strengthening rental values in the range of 5-6% across malls in Chennai.  

Main Street Development  

After a prolonged lull in the market initial sings of recovery can be witnessed in the high streets with increasing enquires and conversions leading to strengthening of retail rentals in select high streets such as Cathedral road-RK Salai, Adyar main road and Purusavakam high road. 

Outlook  

Rentals are expected to remain stable in the short term with a positive bias towards the second half of the year. Viable rental levels coupled with the increased optimism displayed by retailers would be a strong catalyst to increase demand across Chennai.Extended due diligence is being undertaken and location strategy being given utmost importance leading to prolonged negotiations by high end retailers. High end micro markets such as KNK, RK Salai and Nungambakkam high road are expected to witness churn as retailers reconsider options.

Deposits are being currently negotiated at 6-8 months instead of the previous norm of 10 months although this trend is expected to reverse in the medium term as absorption picks up. 

Chennai retail rents 

 Source : Market Beat, Cushman Wakefield, Chennai Retail Report, 1Q2010