The Gujarat High Court has ordered status quo on land claimed by tribals under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) after three tribal rights groups filed a civil application alleging the forest department has begun pre-monsoon work on some such land, which spreads across 13 districts.
“We find that the petitioners have made out a strong prima facie case to have an interim order of status quo as regards the nature of the character of the land involved in the present case as also the nature and character of the land occupied by the scheduled tribe and other traditional forest dwellers in question as on this date, till the next date of hearing. We accordingly pass such order,” said a bench of acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala in an order on May 11. The court will resume hearing the case after June 11, when it opens after summer vacation.
The Action Research in Community Health & Development (ARCH), Rajpipla Social Service Society (RSSS) and the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) said in the civil application that they found out through field visits and contacts in tribal areas that the state government had gone ahead with reviews of FRA claims and that foresters were readying for the monsoon even as the case was being heard by the court.
“In many instances, the forest department has also started digging pits for plantation of trees in the coming monsoon, in the lands occupied by these claimants, which would result in their eviction from these lands,” they said.
The civil application was part of a larger case — the three groups had last year filed a PIL saying the government had “rejected as many as 113,700 (73%) of the 156,000 (FRA) claims they had decided and were also in the process of rejecting most of the remaining 24,000 claims that were still pending with them”.
In its reply, the Tribal Development Department countered that it has already ordered a review of the claims and that there was much duplication in the original set of claims and that the government “is trying to prevent illegal encroachment and attempts to stop illegal activity” because “there is likelihood of massive encroachment in scanty resources of the state”.
AHMEDABAD: The city's heritage is rich and it is all set to get even richer. Sluggish demand may have pulled prices down across India - Ahmedabad included - but areas of the walled city have seen a 30% rise in the January-March quarter this year as compared to corresponding period last year, according to residential index figures released by Reserve Bank of India's National Housing Bank.
On the whole, prices in the city went down by 0.6% - posh western areas saw a 25% decline. But, walled city - the area being considered for Unesco's World Heritage City status - has defied gravity.
"Realty prices here were hit after the post-Godhra 2002 riots. But, the situation has changed now," said developer Vijay Shah.
There is a huge gap between demand and supply for residential properties in walled city. "Because of the buzz around the World Heritage City status, there are many who now want to go back to the old city," said citybased developer Uday Vora. Ahmedabad's walled city turned 600 only last year. The city is the only one from India to be included on Unesco's tentative list of World Heritage Cities.
In the last three months, prices of homes in the diamond city of Surat in Gujarat have crashed by over 25 per cent. The crash has been steepest between January and March 2012, states the latest data from National Housing Bank (NHB), an wholly-owned entity of Reserve Bank of India.
Prices in Surat had been on a steady rise since the beginning of 2010. The cost of owing a home in this coastal town rose by almost 30 per cent in the two years between January 2010 and December 2011. However, according to the latest figures from RESIDEX, a mechanism created by NHB for tracking prices of residential properties in India, the prices in the city have begun to dip.
The biggest drop has been witnessed in the northern areas of the Surat like Katargam, Dabholi and Amroli where home prices have plummeted by 26 per cent (between January and March 2012), compared to the prices that existed in December 2011.
Most of the residential micro-markets in the city, including areas like Rander, Adajan, Udhana, Limbayat, Piplod and Sultanabad, have seen prices dip in the range of 4-12 per cent. Only the eastern areas of the city (Varachha, Umarwada, Puna) saw a 4 per cent rise in prices between January and March 2012.
Similar is the case in Ahmedabad, one of the largest property markets of Gujarat, where home prices rose by 32 per cent in the last two years (ending December 2011) but dipped by as much as 17 per cent in the first three months of 2012. The biggest fall has been in the southern areas of city comprising areas like Vatva Gam, Vishal Nagar, Gordhan Vadi and Abad Diary.
In the eastern part of the city, prices of homes in localities like Gomtipur and Vastral have dipped by 11 per cent, while in the western parts of the city the dip is a nominal 3 per cent.
The only micro-markets breaking the bearish trend were those in the central and northern parts of the city where prices have risen by 20 per cent between January and March 2012.
Now roads in Gujarat will have star ratings! Under a World Bank project, 40 different corridors of state highways, covering a total distance of 1,600 kilometres, will be studied, evaluated and rated under various safety parameters.
“Under this project, existing state highways have been selected. These highways will be inspected for 56 different safety parameters like road use, road accidents and casualties, traffic flow, quality of intersections, signage, road-side inventory, pedestrian crossings, etc. Based on these parameters, ratings will be assigned to different corridors. These star-ratings, from one to five stars, will indicate the safety of the corridor,” Abhishek Tiwari, project manager of Indian Road Survey & Management Pvt Ltd (IRSM), told The Indian Express.
IRSM, a joint-venture of Australian Road Research Board and Chennai-based Taisei Group, has been selected by the World Bank to conduct a road assessment programme.
Over Rs 100 crore is expected to be spent on this project which will include highways that will be upgraded and rehabilitated under the Gujarat State Highway Development Project (GSHP-II).
“The project is expected to begin this week from Valsad. About 1,600 kms of roads under the GSHP project will be covered,” said Tiwari. The 67-km stretch between Pardi-Diksal is expected to be inspected for design structure, corridor safety, etc.
The larger stretches (having distances of 60 kms or more) expected to be covered under this project include Savarkundla-Dhala (Amreli), Mehsana-Himmatnagar, Jamnagar-Mewasa (link to Bhavad-Jamjodhpur), Vansda-Dharmpur-Ambheti-Vapi (Navsari), Bodeli-Alirajpur (Vadodara) and Rajkot-Morbi road.
This project in Gujarat is part of a larger project involving four other states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. “Data collection for roads in Kerala and Karnataka, covering approximately 1,100 kms, is already complete. Now, inspection will start in Gujarat,” Tiwari added.
Gujarat International Finance Tec-City gets Rs 393 crore for first phase
AHMEDABAD: Financial institutions committed Rs 393 crore for the first phase of Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Gandhinagar, the upcoming international financial services centre in Gujarat. The fund will be invested to expedite infrastructure building in the first phase, say GIFT officials.
"The financial closure shows the confidence and interest exhibited by the investors in the project. The deal will expedite the first phase of the project," Ramakant Jha, director of Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Limited (GIFTCL), the special purpose vehicle created for the project.
The funding is provided by a consortium of 15 financial institution and banks under the Pooled Municipal Debt Obligation Facility (PMDO) comprising Indian Infrastructure Finance Co Ltd, Canara Bank, IL&FS Financial Services Ltd, Allahabad Bank, Bank of India, Dena Bank, Central bank of India, Corporation Bank, Indian Bank, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Syndicate Bank, Union Bank of India, Vijaya Bank and Indian Overseas Bank. PMDO is a pool created under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for funding the infrastructure projects in urban areas.
GIFTCL is also in talks with Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) for additional funding of Rs 700 crore for the Rs 1,100 crore phase 1. The talks are likely to materialise within one year. Funds will be raised through equity, internal accrual and additional debt, an official said.
Infrastructure Lease and Finance Company, the partner in the project has undertaken construction of two 29-storey towers. The first tower is constructed up to 19 storeys, while 9 storeys have been built for the second tower.
Both the towers are likely to be ready by November 2012, creating one million square feet of commercial space. A couple of banks including The State Bank of India ( SBI) and Dena bank as well as other financial institutions have already booked their space. IL&FS has pumped in Rs 280 crore in the project. The investment is likely to shoot up to Rs 600 crore, by the time the two towers are ready. Road, water, waste management, power and other infrastructure works are under progress at the site.
Earlier this year, Gujarat government created a special Area Development Authority, a legal entity in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, for day-to-day governance of GIFT. Being developed over an area of 886 acre, the Rs 72,740 crore GIFT city project will house a financial services-based multi-services SEZ, a centre for domestic financial sector, corporate offices, regional offices of companies, a trade centre, housing colonies, social infrastructure and other associated amenities.
The IFSC is a 'Deemed Foreign Territory' for facilitating inbound and outbound transactions. Rules and regulations for IFSC have been drafted and are under finalisation by the Government of India in consultation with regulators like the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Forward Markets Commission (FMC) and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).
GIFT officials say representatives of a number of mutual fund companies, rating agencies, brokerages have expressed readiness to set up their shop in the upcoming financial hub in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat.
In a desperate move to make the controversial Gujarat Unauthorized Development (Regularization) Act, 2011, successful, the state government has decided to reduced the “impact fee”to be paid by owners of unauthorised properties to get these regularised almost by 90%, as per changes announced on Friday.
The move comes following a tepid response from the property owners towards the “impact fee” regime introduced on February 18, 2012.
Now, the “impact fee” an owner of unauthorised property has to pay will be less than 10% what he was required to pay earlier for the same property.
Also, the state government has now decided to charge a flat “impact fee” rather than calculating it as per jantri rates, which are official assessment of a real estate property.
In another relief, different rates for commercial and residential constructions have been done away with. Now, uniform rates will apply for both kinds of properties.
As per the new notification, for an illegal construction up to 50 square metres on CG Road in Ahmedabad, a person would be required to pay Rs 25,000. Earlier, he was required to pay 60 per cent of the property’s value as per jantri rate, which is around Rs 5,500-6,800 per square feet for CG road. This means he would have been required to pay Rs 6 lakh to get his property regularised.
Announcing the changes, state’s Urban Development Minister Nitin Patel said the new decision was taken on the basis of feedback from local authorities across the state.
“As per new norms, eight no-objection certificates that were to be attached along with the application form will not be mandatory,” the minister added.
According to an estimate, there are around 15 lakh illegal constructions in the state at present.
The deadline for applications seeking regularisation of properties is July 2012, but sources said it could be extended for another six months.
Builders in Gandhinagar asked to install chabutra in societies
AHMEDABAD: A unique Gujarati tradition that stands for compassion towards birds and animals is being incorporated in the planning of residential complexes in Gandhinagar - the birdfeeder or chabutra, as it is called locally.
The Gandhinagar Urban Development Authority (Guda) has been recommending developers in its jurisdiction to include bird feeders in their open spaces or common plots before handing over the possession of the society to the residents.
It was during an Guda board meeting that the chairman suggested to include the request while passing plans of the developers. "The chabutra symbolizes the way of life of Gujaratis and its ethos, and is fast becoming extinct from our lives. The town planning department officials have requested builders to include chabutras when they come to us for approvals. We have successfully managed to convince 30-odd builders to participate in the initiative," says Guda chairman Ashok Bhavsar.
When asked whether the authority has plans of making installation of birdfeeders compulsory for all new constructions in Guda limits, Bhavsar said, "We can always position it as an independent recommendation of Guda. For making it compulsory the aspect has to be included into the prevailing general development control regulations of our state."
Amplus Capital to raise Rs 200 crore realty fund; to focus on Gujarat residential properties
MUMBAI: Amplus Capital Advisors, a venture capital advisor company, is raising Rs 200-crore realty fund with investment focus on Gujarat residential property market.
Amplus is promoted by promoters of Ahmedabad-based textile major Arvind Group and counts Sanjay Lalbhai, chairman and managing director of Arvind as its key promoters.
"In the last three months, we have already received commitment for 50% of the targeted fund corpus under first close. We hope to conclude the entire fund raising by September end," said Anuranjan Mohnot, chief executive officer, Amplus Capital.
The fund will be focusing on residential property markets in Gujarat and aims to generate returns of 25-30% for its investors. The promoters have already committed Rs 25 crore in this fund. The fund hopes to start deploying its corpus from 2013 onwards.
Apart from its primary focus being on high growth areas of Gujarat primarily Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat, the fund will also look at investments in Bangalore, Mohnot said on the sidelines of CII's real estate conclave. The fund is also looking to invest in brownfield redevelopment projects in residential and commercial projects in Mumbai.
The fund with total life seven years including two one year extensions each, will initially consider ticket size of Rs 15-25 crore for its investment, which will be increased going forward, he said.
100 acres for quake victims gobbled up, HC orders clean-up
Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL), the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday ordered demolition of temples, ashram shalas and other such buildings constructed on 100 acres of land in Adhoi village of Kutch district and ordered an inquiry against the government officials responsible behind this.
The land was part of total 300 acres acquired by the state government for the rehabilitation of the village that was devastated in 2001 earthquake and was reserved for public purposes. The Maharashtra government had adopted the village for rehabilitation work.
According to the details, after Adhoi from Bhachau taluka of Kutch district was devastated in the 2001 earthquake, the state government had acquired 300 acres of land from local farmers at the rate of Rs 5 per square metre for non-irrigated land and Rs 7 per square metre for irrigated land.
The Maharashtra government had adopted the village for rehabilitation purpose and had built around 500 houses for the earthquake victims there.
One hundred acres of land from the total 300 acres land was kept reserved for public purposes.
However, over the years, some private groups built a derasar, dharamshala, private houses and commercial complexes etc. on the land after getting “illegal” permission from the village panchayat, which had passed resolutions to that
One Khetsinh Shah, who is a native of Adhoi settled in Mumbai, moved court challenging the encroachment on the 100 acres of land through his advocate Bhushan Bhatt.
Against this, some private groups also moved the court to protect their construction on the government land.
A division bench of HC comprising acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala pronounced the judgment on Wednesday while coming down heavily on the encroachment on the government land and ordered its removal within a stipulated time.
The court expressed its extreme displeasure at the erection of derasar and commercial buildings on the government land.
“In our country, shelter for poor is more important than building temples,” it observed.
The court ordered the district collector to issue a notice to the persons who encroached on the land to get the illegal structures built by them removed within two weeks and take possession of the land.
The court has ordered the state government to set up a committee to inquire into the episode and take disciplinary actions against the officials who allowed encroachments on the land acquired for the rehabilitation of the poor.
AHMEDABAD: A populist measure for regularizing 15 lakh illegal properties in Gujarat seems to have fallen flat. Even as the deadline of August 19 draws near, the exemptions and rate-cuts have found only a few takers in Gujarat's cities.
Interestingly, Gujarat Regularization of Unauthorized Development ( GRUDA) Act, known as the impact fee law, has August 19 as the last date for accepting applications. Post-deadline, municipal authorities will have the powers to run bulldozers over illegal properties.
But, with elections round the corner, a demolition job means bad politics. Another option is extending the deadline by amending the law during the one-day assembly session called this month. State urban development minister Nitin Patel said, "We have no plans to extend the cut off date for the law. As a ministry, we only make laws and now it is for the people to follow them."
Cities like Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara have just a few hundred applicants interested in the scheme. In Ahmedabad, just 617 applicants have approached the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for regularizing their properties. CG road, which has 52 illegal buildings, has just one applicant. Vadodara has about 400 applications and Surat 250.
Interestingly, though the AMC had claimed before the Gujarat high court that there are about five lakh illegal properties in the city, it has sent just a little above 22,000 notices to illegal properties in the city - these were the only illegal properties on AMC's records.
"People think if they apply for regularization AMC will know their illegal status. But they fail to realize that the AMC knows where these properties are located. We can start taking action against such properties after August 19," said a senior AMC official.
Last week, AMC pulled down 30 illegal structures that were built after March 28 last year.