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Housing and Transportation: Smart standards needed for better city planning

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Housing and Transportation: Smart standards needed for better city plan

The Niti Aayog has pointed out that the design and maintenance of city roads being a major challenge across Indian cities.

With the Centre putting its weight behind the flagship Smart Cities  programme for comprehensive and inclusive urban planning, several quarters within the government, including the Niti Aayog, have pointed out the urgent need to prescribe standards for design and implementation of various tenets involved with two key determinants of urban development — housing and transport.

“Over the longer term, India needs to introduce more fundamental changes to turn our cities into 21st century spaces. We need to introduce spatial planning that simultaneously addresses developmental needs of metropolitan, municipal and ward-level areas,” said the Niti Aayog in its draft three-year action plan.

For standardising the process of building houses – both affordable and high-value ones, former housing secretary Arun Kumar Misra said that not only should standards be put into place as early as possible but should also be updated to be relevant with the latest available technologies.

“For high-value houses, newer standards need to be put in place such as internet connectivity, or making them applicable for the climate and environmental technologies, water conservation, rainwater harvesting, etc. All these things need to be incorporated, and it can be done. Unfortunately, India is a bit weak in adopting newer technologies. However, private sector has the freedom to adopt them. But that requires changes in various norms for CPWD, state PWDs, etc. At both the state and the central levels, introduction of modern, fast house-building technologies, which is applicable for both affordable and high-value housing, is necessary,” Misra said.

He noted that while availability of technology was not a problem, the cost of adopting the latest applications was one.

“It’s not that all this cannot be done, but the question is what are the limiting factors. Technology is not a limiting factor, but cost is. There are some technologies, which have become quite reasonably priced now, and can be adopted, for example security systems,” Misra said, adding that the government needs to focus on having standards that are not passed as one-offs but can be replicated on a larger scale in the immediate future.

A senior government official earlier involved with the smart cities project said that standardising would also ensure vendor redundancy for the authority commissioning a particular project. “If there are no prescribed standards, it would be difficult for Smart Cities programme to maintain its momentum. There could be a certain vendor putting in its systems after winning a tender, but the project does not stop there,” the official said, adding that there was a need for standards for the smallest of things, such as street-lighting.

Notwithstanding the importance of standardising the housing aspect of urban planning, Niti Aayog has pegged that urban transportation should also have common practices considering the ‘intimate connection’ between housing and transportation.

“If a city is planned to provide housing next to workplace, it minimises the time spent on daily commute. Symmetrically, if suburbs and city centre are connected by well-functioning rapid transit system and the central business district has a dense in-city transportation system; residents have the choice to locate in the suburbs where they can afford larger spaces. Housing and transportation are thus intimately connected,” the think-tank noted in the action plan.

The Niti Aayog has pointed out that the design and maintenance of city roads being a major challenge across Indian cities. “The design and maintenance of city roads is a major challenge in Indian cities. The roads are notorious for being pedestrian-unfriendly, poorly surfaced, congested, and constantly dug-up. An important and urgent transformational reform is to draw up national design standards and contracting standards for city roads to address these challenges,” it said.

“Enforceable design standards can ensure that urban utilities are provided ducts under footpaths with inspection chambers, utility networks are mapped, and uniform lane width can be maintained,” it added. The Aayog has also proposed pilot of a public-private partnership model wherein a private contractor builds city roads, and in turn, charges utilities operators for using underground ducts over the concession period. “Such a project has the advantage that it eliminates the need for state utilities to raise capital for building their underground ducts,” it noted.

These apart, the Niti Aayog also recommended running pilots to see if stricter enforcement of traffic rules. “The flow of traffic also needs special attention in Indian cities. Unlike western (countries’) cities, motorised vehicles in India change lanes with high frequency and in unpredictable ways. This creates unnecessary traffic jams and delays,” the draft said. Additionally, it has also recommended incentivising vehicle-sharing services such as Ola and Uber with an aim to reduce the vehicles on roads, which would reduce both congestion and pollution.

Source: Indian Express

Also Read: How Will Home-Buyers Benefit From RERA

Ahmedabad Real Estate News

Under Construction Flat Booking Finds Tax Deduction Under Time Constraints

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Tax Deduction

If a buyer makes a transaction to book an under-construction flat and if he acquires it within the three-year period of the sale of his old house, then he is entitled to a tax deduction, says a ruling from the Mumbai bench of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT). If an apartment is booked in an under construction project than it must be viewed as a method of constructing residential tenements, says the December 18 judgment.

That means if the buyer uses the entire gain from the transaction to buy another house within two years or construct another house within three years. The two- and three-year period applies even if the buyer bought another house a year before selling the first one. But the property should have been bought in the name of the seller.

It is mandatory that within a period of two years after or one year before the date of transfer of old house, the taxpayer should construct a residential house or acquire another residential house within a period of three years from the date of transfer of the old house. The date of receipt of compensation will determine the period of acquisition or construction in a case of compulsory acquisition.

This exemption is effective and can only be claimed in respect of one residential house property purchased/constructed in India. In the case of multiple house purchases or constructions, the exemption under section 54 will be available in respect of one house only. Any purchases made outside the country does not fall under any kind of exemption. Section 54 gives relaxation in such cases by providing relief to the taxpayer who sells his residential house and acquires another residential house from the gained capital.

After the sale of an asset, the difference between the buying price and the selling price is a capital gain or a capital loss. These are further classified as long-term or short-term. If a property is held for 24 months or less, with effective from 2017-18, then that asset is treated as Short Term Capital Asset. Then an investor can make

treated as Long Term Capital Asset. Then only a Long Term Capital Gain (LTCG) or Long Term Capital Loss (LTCL) can be made on that investment.

ITAT agreed that booking of a new flat in an under-construction apartment should be considered as a case of “construction” and not “purchase”, hence following the earlier decisions of the Bombay high court and the tribunal itself. Further ITAT allowed the fact that the construction can began prior to the date of sale of the old asset. Same was stated in the earlier judicial decisions of the Karnataka high court and Ahmedabad ITAT, that the date of commencement is not relevant but it is the completion of construction that comes in relevance to section 54.

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India Real Estate News

HDFC and Quikr Make A Deal

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HDFC and Quikr Make A Deal

According to a deal between HDFC and Quikr, a stake of more than 3 percent will be given to the mortgage giant in return to its transfer of offline and online real estate brokerage business to the classified ads platform.

After acquiring Commonfloor in 2016 Quikr already has a major presence in online real estate broking.

“Most of the searches for real estate are moving online. Quikr has a much bigger presence online. Through this deal, we are partnering Quikr in the broking business,” said HDFC MD Renu Sud Karnad. According to her, this deal will strengthen Quirks position with offline support.

The deal suggests that HDFC will transfer to Quikr its entire shareholding in HDFC Realty, a real estate brokerage platform, and HDFC Developers, which runs the HDFC RED online platform.

Karnad added that the deal expects Quikr to generate home loan leads for HDFC. The transaction consists of a co-branded alliance between both parties and the HDFC brand will continue to be used online for a year.

The e-real estate classifieds platform HDFC RED has around 7,000 project listings and generates traffic of over 80,000 unique visitors per month. HDFC Realty has a 300-member, in-house sales team, and 7,000-strong nationwide broker network. Avendus Capital was the exclusive financial adviser to Quikr while Kotak Investment Banking acted as the exclusive financial adviser to HDFC on this.

30 million monthly users make Quikr India’s largest classifieds platform. It runs multiple vertical businesses across real estate, automobiles, jobs, services, and goods. The Quikr Home, its real estate vertical generates 3.5 million monthly unique visitors.

Both companies intend to work closely and conduct analytics and identify potential homebuyers, and therefore home loan customers, early in their home-buying journey. Quikr founder and CEO Pranay Chulet said, “We see great synergies between Quikr and HDFC as we start working together to bring a seamless online-to-offline platform to developers and consumers.”

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India Real Estate News

Retaining The Sustainability: GRIHA Launches Star Rating For Urban Homes

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GRIHA Launches Star Rating For Urban Homes

Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), is the National Rating System of India, a Sanskrit word meaning – ‘Abode’. Human architecture has always consumed resources in the form of energy, water and material from the environment. From their construction to operation, these habitats absorb the resources throughout their life cycles, emitting wastes in the end. This emission could be direct in the form of municipal wastes or indirect emission into the atmosphere, such as from electricity generation. Hence GRIHA was formed to reduce an architecture’s resource consumption, waste production and overall environment impact up to certain national acceptable limits.

In attempt to quantify all these aspects, like energy consumption, waste generation etc. GRIHA tries to manage, control and bring down the respective to the best possible limit. Being a rating tool, it helps people to assess the performance of their respective projects against the national benchmarks.

Hence it becomes an evaluation of the environmental performance of an architecture on a holistic level. Covering its entire life cycle, this evaluation provides a specific standard for a ‘green building’. This rating system aims to strike a balance between established institutions and emerging concepts, on a national as well as the international level.

The process starts with an online submission of documents according to the criteria. Then a team of professionals and experts from GRIHA Secretariat takes a site visit for the evaluation of the building.  There are four different sections categorized by 34 criteria in GRIHA rating system. Some of them are site selection and site planning, conservation and efficient utilization of resources, building operation and maintenance, and innovation. 

Sanjay Seth, CEO, Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) Council says, “A rating between one and five stars is being provided, helping the costumers to know about the sustainability of the houses”.

According to the Union Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, the climate resilient and sustainable buildings are the need of the hour. As the government is aiming to construct around 1.2 crore houses for the urban poor under the affordable housing scheme.

In one of his keynote addresses, Andreas Baum, Ambassador of Switzerland to India and Bhutan said that the Indo Swiss collaboration is operating with the Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency in the development of guidelines for energy efficient housing.

“At present India is witnessing a rapid urbanisation, if each building becomes greener than the last one, then we have a huge opportunity and hope for our country. We need to look beyond the conventional methods of building, in order to provide our citizens with a good quality of life. Hence, GRIHA gains important in meeting our national goals with respect to a sustainable society”, says Dr Ajay Mathur, director general, TERI & president, GRIHA Council.

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