|Mr. Alakshendra Singh
General Manager Corporate Communication
EROS Group is a recognized real estate giant in India with special strength in and around Delhi. The group has created some of the most pioneering episodes of real estate promotion and town planning for a period of over 70 impressive years. Mr. Alakshendra Singh, in conversation with CE&CR, shares his views on affordable housing, its demand-supply scenario and effect of the pandemic on the real estate sector.
Civil Engineering and Construction Review: What is your take on affordable housing and what is your company doing in that direction?
Alakshendra Singh: As we are going through a tough time, I must say that affordable housing section with the existing crisis is likely to be one of the worst affected due to the COVID-19 epidemic, as concerns over the target audience’s restricted income and joblessness continue to rise. This section has been leading the sales traction in real estate for the more than a year. Also, the government has set an aspiring goal of providing ‘Housing for All by 2022’. It is projected that the government would continue to deliver additional push to affordable housing once the crisis gets over. Also, as the relocation of people belonging to lower income from rural and semi-urban areas to urban areas endures unabated, the plea for affordable housing is expected to stay high.
We have our affordable housing project in Greater Noida in the name of Eros Sampoornam. This is our first group housing project in Greater Noida, where we have invested almost 225 crores. It is a RERA register project.
CE&CR: Which challenges are being faced by the Delhi-NCR realty segment, owing to the several instances of malpractices by some builders?
Alakshendra Singh: There have been some mutual problems confronted by most of the financiers and buyers in the real-estate market. The most common concerns that are met by them are the deferrals in projects, high-price, poor quality of building and modifications without prior information. Apparently, due to the influx of new act like RERA, all such problems will no more be in the picture.
The act’s main purpose is to preserve transparency in the market. While there is a necessity for developers to make certain they are compliant with new rules, buyers too should change their viewpoint about the market now. The government should also try and make the land bill unchanging to promise better land procurement. Also, the single window clearance would bring in several agreements on time.
CE&CR: Tell us something about the current residential properties’ demand and supply scenario.
Alakshendra Singh: The unparalleled effect of COVID-19 is now intimidating to change the demand and supply scenario. The real estate industry has already started to witness a radical fall in sales, which in the backdrop of the high inventory held by realtors, should also end in a drop in prices. The affordable housing section, which had raised a significant amount of grip over the last few years, may also take a hit by COVID-19. The epidemic will significantly upset affordable housing’s target audience. With limited salary and employment fears, buyers of affordable housing may defer purchase choices, leading to a rise in certain percentage of unsold stock within this segment in 2020.
CE&CR: What are the improvements needed in government policies to streamline the real-estate business?
Alakshendra Singh: The Indian economy and particularly, the real estate sector is going through a stimulating phase now. However, the affordable housing section has also started feeling the impact of COVID. The realty sector is no doubt observing a stagnancy in new projects, but the affordable housing segment is moving comparatively fast. To rationalise the Indian real estate sector, government needs to take additional steps to implement RERA. The industry has been for a long waiting for quicker/single window allowance since long. A faster window will help in justifying the cost of growth and make real estate more affordable.
The government should also take steps to restore the fresh NBFC crisis that has exaggerated developer subsidy in the country. Despite the recent revitalisation in the market, Indian real estate suffers from an enormous quantity of unsold inventory and deferred projects, and therefore, necessitates systematic involvement from the government and regulatory bodies.
The industry also anticipates justification of taxes by inclusion stamp duty under GST. This will give an additional thrust to the business by easing out the cost of progress.
CE&CR: Going forward, what are the opportunities that you are seeking in the ‘Smart Cities’ domain?
Alakshendra Singh: The growth of a smart city grants an enormous prospect, mainly from the real estate viewpoint. The very nature of these smart cities – the setting up of information and communications equipment facilities fixed with social facilities would make them very beautiful; specifically, the services sector. Growth of technologically bigger workspaces, which offer facilities such as smart workstations, very high speed Internet, etc., at reasonable rates, is sure to lure organisations to shift focus to such newer locations. These could also include IT SEZs, proving to be eye-catching destinations for IT companies.