National Real Estate Summit
Photo Caption: (L-R) Mr. Ranjeet Mehta- Director- PHD Chamber, Mr. Alok B Shriram- Sr. Vice President- PHD Chamber, Mr. Shankar Agarwal- IAS secretary- Ministry of Urban Development Govt of India, Mr. Rajeev Talwar- Group Executive Director- DLF & Chairman of Housing Committee PHD Chamber, Dr M Ravi Kanth- IAS, Chairman & MD- HUDCO, Mr. Manish Agarwal, Co Chairman Housing Committee- PHD Chamber unveiling the Report on Smart Cities by PHD Chamber & CRISIL.

PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized a National Real Estate Summit 2014 recently in New Delhi for unveiling a special report on Smart Cities prepared jointly by PHDCCI & CRISIL.

The occasion was graced by Mr. Shankar Aggarwal, Secretary Ministry of Urban Development; Dr. M Ravi Kanth, Chairman & Managing Director HUDCO; Mr. Alok B Shriram, Senior Vice President of PHD Chamber among others

In his welcome address, Mr. Alok B Shriram urged the government to reduce the cost of borrowing for the housing sector, explaining that this can be achieved by providing interest subvention for low income borrowers.

"Housing faces a disproportionate incidence of taxes amounting to more than 35 per cent of the cost of a completed unit. This can be partially alleviated by giving tax treatment of SEZs to affordable housing projects and providing benefits under Section 35 AD to the real estate sector", he said.

Dr. M Ravi Kanth in his presentation called for reduced rates of interest for housing activities and setting up of smart cities so that these come up within the stipulated time period. He, however, cautioned that credit exposure should be restricted to those entrepreneurs who wilfully turn defaulter and discourage the financial institutions to narrow their exposures for real estate activities for fear of increasing their non-performing assets.

The white paper on Smart Cities, brought out by PHD Chamber & CRISIL and jointly released by Mr. Shankar Aggarwal, Dr. M Ravi Kanth and Mr. Alok B Shriram, however, emphasizes the setting up of a Central Planning Authority for expediting and monitoring the completion of 100 smart cities project and suggested that the authority should act as a regulatory body for them to ensure compliance.

The proposed authority, according to Mr. Shriram, is required to manage and provide single window clearances for smart cities creation since the real estate developers are currently subjected to multiple approvals from Centre and States which hinder housing activities in the country and the smart cities should fall under exclusive domain of the suggested authority.

Post unveiling of the white paper, there were two technical sessions in which various issues such as funding, setting of business center in the proposed 100 smart cities, global collaboration, heavy use of technology, etc whose solution will speed up the process of building of these proposed cities were highlighted by the penalists in their presentations.

Ms. Binaifer F. Jehani Director, CRISIL Research, in her presentation waxed eloquent on the structures of the 100 smart cities and gave elaborate presentation discussing the necessity of making these cities to be self sufficient urban centres which should have business set ups for providing work to the inhabitants. She expected 8-10 years are needed for building these cities and wanted incorporation of technology in the different areas of infrastructure of the cities to ensure speedy service delivery to people.

Mr. P K Tripathi, President, Unitech Ltd in his presentation touched upon the issues integral to the project completion and emphasized on new policy to be made for land acquisition that should integrate farmers into economic development process. He gave the example of Mexico that made low cost housing and stressed on the need for global tie-ups and green building energy efficiency.

Mr. Tushar Pandey, Senior President & Country Head, Yes Bank noted on making the housing affordable as part of the 100 smart cities and suggested on having national skill development program to keep physical infrastructure in tandem with IT. Collaboration was also a value loaded word of his presentation.

Dr. Kunal Banerji, CMO, M3M India Ltd in his presentation urged the government and bureaucracy to define the scope of smart cities and give guidelines to be followed by builders of these cities. He wanted the current global practices to be adopted in the smart cities projects. Dr. Banerji picked instances from his teaching and global working experience to convey the impression that technology is the most sought after by the people especially youth so that they can get access to a plethora of day-to-day services while sitting before their computer screen, including medical check-up. He echod how girls wanted technology to be used by security personnel to provide them round the clock security wherever they moved in the smart cities.

Other penalists too gave their presentations emphasizing the need of removal of multitude of hurdles in the smart cities projects, with government acting as facilitators and private sector bringing in the much needed funds.
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