Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Waiting for a VIP - Eastern Freeway!

While we await the formal inauguration of the much-awaited Eastern Freeway, let us recap the salient features and its importance as listed by MMRDA:

The ever expanding and populating Eastern parts of Mumbai and Thane have been crucial linkages of growth of the State. The economic activities in these areas needed long term and sustainable infrastructure to meet the present and future demands. The Eastern parts were a key to exponential development owing to its proximity to other major industrial hubs like districts of Thane, Pune, Nashik and Raigad. The planners at MMRDA had envisaged this trend and future demand at very early stage and hence, building the Easter Freeway was not only a need but also a key to unlock immense potentials of prospective growth areas. Not limiting the road connectivity to the city limits, it penetrated right up to the heart of city and connected efficiently up to the extreme ends of the city.
The exit point at Chembur, near RK Studios. Pic: B N Kumar

The Eastern Freeway project was undertaken by MMRDA under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The Eastern Freeway is planned such that it provides 22.0 km high speed corridor from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum to Eastern Express Highway (EEH). The Freeway also provides direct connectivity to new CST Railway Terminus and facilities to and fro movement of goods traffic in Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) area.
As planned the EF starts from Museum, passes along Shahid Bhagatsingh Marg, Wadi Bundar on P.D ’Mello Road and further enters into MbPT area and finally joins EEH via Anik Panjrapole Link Road (APLR). Total length of proposed (Phase-I) project is 12 km from Museum to Anik which includes, ground improvement of existing road, 4-lane Elevated corridor of about 9 km and construction of missing link.

As per revised
Talking into consideration the quantum of structures to be dismantled on P. D ’Mello road, recent improvement of the road by MCGM and integration of Eastern Freeway with APLR on WTT road, the length of Eastern Freeway (Phase 1) is modified to 9.29. Km under.

Section I -From S.V Patel road junction on P.D ’Mello road to Orange gate comprising of up and down ramps (0.41Km)
Section II - Orange gate to Mbpt pipeline gate- elevated corridor (7.02)
Section III - Mbpt pipe line gate to WTT road comprising of construction of elevator corridor through Salt pan (Missing Link) and Customs area (0.78 Km)
Section IV - WTT road near customs area to start of APLR- Elevated corridor (1.08 Km)
The project cost is estimated at Rs 531 crore and is approved under JNNURM with 35% financial assistance from Government of India, State Government and MMRDA share 15% and 50% respectively. M/s. Simplex Infrastructures Ltd. is roped in for the project. The project commenced in January, 2008.
The project also consists of constructing Mumbai ’s first and the only twin tunnel at the footsteps of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) mountain. The twin tunnels are approximately half a kilometre in length each; with 17 metres in width and 10 metres in height, it will have four carriageways in each tunnel.
The project, under Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project (MUIP), is instrumental in reducing congestion in the beneficial areas which have emerged as prominent suburbs with substantial population and road traffic growth. The project provides easy and effective connectivity between suburbs and city and moreover, industrial establishments around the city and other cities. The project has also improved much needed connectivity among Western suburbs, Eastern suburbs and Harbor suburbs of MMR.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Jio Mere Lal! Ambani Bros to share telecom towers!

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. and Reliance Communications Ltd. today announced the signing of a definitive agreement for sharing of RCOM’s nationwide telecom towers infrastructure.

Under the terms of the agreement, Reliance Jio Infocomm will utilise upto 45,000 ground and rooftop based towers across RCOM’s nationwide network for accelerated roll-out of its stateof-the-art 4G services.

The agreement provides for joint working arrangements to configure the scope of additional towers to be built at new locations to ensure deep penetration and seamless delivery of next generation services.

This agreement follows the inter-city optic fiber sharing agreement already signed in April 2013 as part of a comprehensive framework of business co-operation between Reliance Jio Infocomm and Reliance Communications.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Realty Regulator can bring in corruption, CREDAI Chairman apprehends

·         Many provisions are against the industry and consumer interest, says Lalit Kumar Jain

MUMBAI, June 6, 2013: Stating that the Real Estate Regulatory Bill approved by the Union Cabinet seeks to whip only errant developers, realtors apex body CREDAI Chairman Mr. Lalit Kumar Jain has expressed fear that it could encourage corruption instead of curtailing the social menace.
Mr. Jain expressed his views on the subject based on the press release from the Union Cabinet and added that he would provide detailed observation after receiving the draft legislation.
Mr. Jain, who is also the Chairman and Managing Director of Mumbai-Pune developer Kumar Urban Development Limited (KUL), said the real estate sector definitely needs a regulator on the lines of the one controlling telecom, banking, stock markets and insurance sectors.
He lauded the intent of the Housing Minister but said that the discretionary powers for registering or deregistering projects and adjudication by a bureaucrat could become breeding grounds for corruption. Moreover, the provision for criminal prosecution of developers could lead to the exit of professional and qualified developers.
“Our fear is that those with expertise to handle political influencers will only survive, thus leaving the all important industry in the hands of corrupt people,” Mr. Jain said and called for regulator covering all stakeholders like defaulting customers, the approving authorities and financial institutions that fund projects.
“How can anyone blame the developer if a project is held up due to approval delays or funds for that matter?” he asked.
“CREDAI has worked hard to advise the ministry to come out with appropriate comprehensive Bill with teeth to direct all stakeholders including approving authorities which will protect consumers while enhancing quality environment for the business,” he pointed out. Otherwise it will be an added establishment with huge costs, serving no purpose other than adding cost, thereby making tenements costlier.
Mr. Jain welcomed the statement of Mr. Ajay Maken, Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, that the Bill provides for a uniform regulatory environment to protect consumer interests, help speedy adjudication of disputes and ensure orderly growth of the real estate sector.
“Also, the promotional role of the proposed Regulator like standardization in the sector carpet area, checking money trail and curbing money laundering, professionalism and promoting planned development are music to our ears,” he quipped.
On the provision in the Bill for mandatory deposit of 70% of the cost in an escrow account, Mr. Jain pointed out: “This is impractical.”
The construction cost of the project varies in different markets. For instance, in micro markets as in prime areas, the cost of construction may be around 30% where as in suburban areas it could be a high at 80% of the entire cost elements. The provision should be based on the ratio of the extent of the construction cost so as to ensure timely completion of projects, and prevent fund diversion. Otherwise, the growth in the sector will get arrested as the reality of the day is that funding for land purchase is just not available from banks, thanks to the negative weightage given by the RBI for real estate finance.
He explained that the Bill provides for a speedy and specialized adjudication mechanism to settle disputes by an officer of the rank of joint secretary. This is also not practical since the judicial process is a specialized task and hence an expert of the field only can redress the disputes. Or, it should be left to a judicial officer and not bureaucrats, in any case, who may be influenced by higher-ups or corruption.

The Bill should have aimed at catalyzing domestic and foreign investment into the real estate, thereby contributing to enhance economic activity and increase in GDP growth. Sadly, this is missing, Mr. Jain added.