Patna: Building bye-laws have been notified and a new municipal commissioner has replaced Kuldip Narayan, but the slump in the real estate sector continues, though a few green shoots can be seen.
The good news is the sudden completion of work on a large number of buildings, construction on which had been stalled for over a year after Patna High Court’s 2013 directive to stop illegal construction activity. Incidentally, most buildings were finalised over the past few months, even though the pace of disposal of vigilance cases against unauthorised buildings has dipped since last December.
Developers — who were crying for the past two years about being victimised by the former civic body chief and policy paralysis in the state government — had seen Kuldip’s removal and the new bye-laws as a panacea for the sector’s ills.
Now that it is nearly four months since Kuldip’s removal from PMC (suspension order was issued on December 12) and two months since the new building bye-laws came into effect, the builders’ lobby claims the conditions have hardly improved. They attribute finalisation of building projects to the boost in confidence among developers following Kuldip’s removal from PMC.
“Following the Patna High Court directive, PMC had stopped construction activity in over 1,200 buildings in 2013. Vigilance cases were initiated against less than 500 buildings, but construction on the remaining 700-and-odd buildings were kept on hold without any solid reason. This instilled a sense of fear among builders. However, with Kuldip’s removal, we got a message that the government was finally showing positive attitude towards us. Accordingly, buildings against which no case was initiated, are now getting completed,” said Sachin Chandra, state president in Bihar Chapter of Builders’ Association of India (BAI).
Though builders have lately gathered guts to resume work on held-up projects, the demand for new flats is still comparatively lower owing to the overall environment of suspicion in the minds of buyers. “The buyers are highly apprehensive about buying flats these days, as they are not sure if the apartment is free of litigation,” said another city-based developer.
Builders claim no new construction projects are being taken up, as PMC is not approving maps because of a clause in the new building bye-laws mandating registration of builders, which has not started yet. Also, PMC has put on hold the process of approving planning reports, which it had restarted recently.
“The process of registration of builders with PMC has not commenced. As a result, the process of approval of maps as provided for in the new bye-laws has not started yet. Also, the bye-laws state that planning report for new projects would be released based on demarcation of new and old areas as envisaged by the master plan for the city. However, the draft of the proposed master plan is still to be finalised and come into effect. Consequently, the PMC has stopped issuing planning reports,” said Sachin.
The state cabinet approved the draft of the building bye-laws at its meeting on December 2, after which it was notified on January 25. The draft of the proposed master plan for Patna, on the other hand, was released on August 15. Thereafter, feedback was sought from residents, after which it was to be notified. However, it is still to be notified through a formal notification.
“We do not see any willingness from the present state government to improve the condition in the real estate market. The state has entered into election mode and we feel the government is more concerned about that. Any positive development in the real estate market is now expected only after the formation of the next state government,” said Nanhey Kumar, former state convener of BAI.
Senior officials in the urban development and housing department, however, claimed that all issues adversely affecting construction activities would be resolved by month-end.
“We had received around 700 objections to the master plan, which have been scrutinised by our consultants and we are expecting to come up with a final master plan by the end of this month. Till then, all urban local bodies have been asked to issue planning report as per the provisions of the existing master plan. As far as registration of builders is concerned, we have already started the first step in this regard, which requires empanelment of architects,” said Amrit Lal Meena, principal secretary in the urban development and housing department.
As a result of the uncertainty in the in the real estate market, builders from the city have started fleeing to places like Noida in the National Capital Region (NCR) citing apathetic attitude of the state government to resolve the issues stalling growth in the market.