BHUBANESWAR: Just when the realty market in the city started burgeoning five years ago, Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) almost withdrew as a housing developer, leaving the sector to the monopoly of private builders. Had the BDA remained a dominant player, the city's exorbitant housing prices may have been more reasonable, feel experts.
Despite housing being one of its key thrust areas, the agency has hardly come up with any new residential projects in the city in the past five years. The period saw three housing and urban development ministers (KV Singhdeo, Badri Narayan Patra and Sarada Nayak), who were chairpersons of BDA, come and go, without any focus on affordable housing in the city.
Barring the Pokhariput duplex complex targeting the high income group and Netaji Subhas Enclave, planned more than seven years ago, the agency has not contributed in terms of new dwelling units in the city in recent years.
The BDA has undertaken some public private partnership (PPP) projects, one in partnership with Unitech. "In such projects the agency's role is limited to selling land to the private builder with certain terms and conditions like a land owner. BDA is not an active partner in executing the projects. The builder only uses BDA's name to sell its properties," said a senior BDA officer, requesting anonymity.
This is contrary to the situation in the 1990s, when the BDA and Odisha State Housing Board were the main real estate developers with very few private players around. In the past five years, however, over 20,000 housing units are estimated to have been added by private players, compared to just a few hundred by the BDA.
Experts feel the BDA should come up with more affordable houses. "Government agencies such as the BDA should directly undertake more construction as private builders do not create houses for all categories of buyers," said Piyush Rout, a consultant in city management. "The BDA's withdrawal in the face of market demand is surprising," he added.
Builders also feel greater BDA involvement in housing construction will make a big difference. "Its presence in the construction scenario would help evolve a benchmark price of properties by creating a balanced market and curtail erratic development. But the BDA has drastically reduced building new houses," said Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) state president D S Tripathy.
Conceding that very few housing projects have been developed by the government agency in recent years, BDA vice-chairman Deoranjan Kumar Singh said, "One of the reasons of not undertaking residential projects aggressively is shortage of land parcel. The city's infrastructure and big projects are currently the main focus of BDA, though housing will continue to remain one of the key areas in times to come. Some new housing projects will come up soon."
BDA engineering member Asutosh Mallick said the agency will some come up with two group housing projects in Paikarapur, among others.
The BDA has prepared a comprehensive development plan (CDP) and has been preparing zonal development plans (ZDPs) and comprehensive mobility plans for the city, officials said.
Singh said the BDA has been currently preparing the request for a proposal (RFP) document for the much-awaited satellite city at Madanpur-Jagasara on the city outskirts. Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE), consultant for the project, has already submitted the final blue print of development (stage 4 plan) to the state government. The modern integrated township is proposed to come up over an area of 1208.39 acres in the south-west corridor of the temple city. While the project would require a maximum of 576 acre from Jagasara village, land from other villages such as Madanpur (200 acre), Kaimatia, Paikrapur, Kaimatipatna, Bidyadharpur and Jagasarapatna is also proposed to be acquired.