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- IT hubs enhancing property demand in and around Chennai
Ours is a state that has been at the forefront, compared to the rest of the country, as far as the formulation of comprehensive IT (Information Technology) policies is concerned. Way back in 2005, the Government of Tamil Nadu released policies targeting the Knowledge Sector, namely IT and the IT Enabled Services (ITeS). These included a 50 percent exemption of stamp duty for IT companies towards land registration and office construction, and relaxed Floor Space Index (FSI) norms to IT buildings. One of the earliest initiatives taken towards the development of the IT sector was the setting up of the IT Corridor Project (Rajiv Gandhi Salai), and the TIDEL Park in Chennai.
“The coming up of the IT park in Madurai has caused land prices around the facility – located on the Ring Road, to shoot up. But companies are yet to move in and occupy the building, and as this has not happened for a while, land prices have since remained stagnant,” says Balaji M, Managing Partner, Aishwaryam Constructions, Madurai, “IT professionals only comprise around 10 percent of my clientele. In fact, there are quite a few IT professionals working abroad who are buying land, as their parents usually convince them to invest in real estate in Madurai.” The IT sector might not be doing as well as it used to, but it has definitely had an effect on the realty sector in the state, and has been instrumental in the linking and modernisation of roads and highways.
The Rajiv Gandhi Salai is a stretch between the Madhya Kailash Temple Junction and Siruseri in Chennai, and this stretch was part of Phase-I of the project, which also included the 2.1 km long East Coast Road (ECR) Link Road connecting the IT Corridor at Sholinganallur and the East Coast Road. The focus was initially on Chennai, and the city soon became the hub of the IT revolution.
The State has since moved on, and now, apart from the TIDEL Park, we have Ascendas, Mahindra World City, IT & ITES SEZ TIDEL-II, IT & ITES SEZ TIDEL-III, Coimbatore SEZ – TIDEL Park, and Special Economic Zone India-Singapore, as some of the IT parks within the State. “The TIDEL Park in Coimbatore is nearing completion, in the sense that only a few minor works are pending. There are ten IT companies that are functioning from there now, out of which six started functioning last year itself, and four companies moved in this year,” says R Bhuvaneswari, Development Manager (Projects), Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Limited (TIDCO), “The entire project will be completed within the next three to four months.”
The advent of the IT revolution in the State and the country brought about a lot of changes. People automatically started thinking that there was a lot of money involved, and land rates have skyrocketed in and around IT parks. The government has also greatly increased guideline values,” says R S Shankar, Proprietor, Adithya Estates and Constructions, “The problem is that affordability has not been taken into consideration, and while loans are helpful, the middle class still finds it very difficult to invest in land. The market is stagnant now, as the current IT scenario is not very bright.” Shankar, who is based in Coimbatore, explains that land prices have shot up ever since the government announced a couple of years ago that a TIDEL Park would come up in Coimbatore.
“The cost of a ground on the main road that leads to the IT parks is around 1 crore, while the asking price for a ground that is off the main road, and slightly in the interior, is between 25-30 lakh,” he reveals. He explains that the road linking Peelamedu and Saravanampatti (where the KGiSL Software Technology Campus is located), leading to Sathyamangalam Road, has developed and it has come up in a big way. He adds, “While IT has brought about drastic changes in the real estate sector, it has also in a way contributed to the fact that there isn’t any land that is now available for purchase, except in the interiors. This is in a way similar to the situation in Chennai. For example, in 1991, the price of an acre was 15,000 in Oragadam, and years later, the IT Corridor changed the scene entirely.”
- Demand for developed plots rise in Chennai
There has been a consistent demand for developed plots in and around Chennai. A number of projects coming up in suburbs have seen the prices doubling in a span of just four years in select areas. Despite the stringent norms for plot loans, investors are pooling resources from other avenues to invest in plotted development projects as they are convinced that land appreciates much faster than other assets.
There is another reason for this trend. With the urban land, input and labour cost soaring, a section of mid-segment people are unable to invest in housing. In order to overcome the spiraling prices and inflationary pressures, investors are convinced that land as an investment would be the best bet in the long-run for reinvestment at an appropriate time.
Those who have wisely invested in developed plots in Chennai’s suburbs like Singaperumal Koil, Oragadam and Sriperumbudur have seen their investments doubling in a span of four years, according to industry sources. However, location plays a key role while opting for such investments. Industrial development, impending large township projects, improved connectivity levels, infrastructure development and transport network have significantly contributed to the spurt in land prices in suburbs and peripheral areas.
The DTCP approved plots are always priced higher than Panchayat approved plots due to flexible norms in the latter in suburbs. This has also aggravated the unhealthy competition in the market where there is fierce competition among hundreds of small time operators.
Prices for DTCP approved plots range from Rs 500 per sqft and above in areas like Sunguvarchathram, Padappai, Wallajabad, all 60 km away from the city areas. Land promoters are nowadays offering a combination of services including resale and property maintenance services. This has encouraged NRIs and others migrating to other cities due to work related assignments to invest in developed plots. A few land developers have diversified into construction activities as well which in turn has prompted land owners to build houses.
The DTCP provides through their websites details of plotted development projects approved and those pending for approval. An investor cell at CMDA provides free advisory services on land related queries on submission of basic data.
- Tamil Nadu housing board plans 300 acre township
The Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) is planning to develop a 300-acre self contained residential township at Thirumazhisai, near Poonamallee, highly-placed sources said. The project, which is on the drawing board, could cost about Rs 3,000 crore going by the present cost of construction, said an official. The site is about three km off the Bangalore highway. The board is apparently reluctant to invest on developing the project. Hence, in line with all recent developments carried out by the board, the Thirumazhisai project also would be implemented under the self finance scheme, said an official. If so, buyers will have to look for finance options from banks and other financial institutions. Real Estate Chennai will benefit if the development does happen. The land at Thirumazhisai is the single largest piece of land owned by TNHB’s near Chennai city. “The project will have apartments catering to all sections of people. With a view to putting the land to maximum use, we have decided not to have independent houses in the project. In all, there could be more than 20,000 dwelling units. Specifics will be known only after the design is finalised,” the official said. The board had acquired the land more than a decade ago at rates far below the present market value. “Since the board was set up on a no-profit, no-loss basis, our price will also be far below the rates at which private builders sell in the region (.2,800 to .3,000 per sq ft),” said the official. What holds the board back from immediate development of the site is lack of proper access for it. “We have to acquire about 11 acres of land abutting the road to provide a decent access for the site. Negotiations are on with land owners for an amicable solution. Since acquisition under the land acquisition Act could pose problems similar to the ones faced across the country, we are working on a land exchange formula. It should materialise soon. After that, the project will be put on fast track,” said another official. The project will have all support infrastructure like bus terminus, schools, commercial space, parks and scope for leisure. Apart from attracting people working in the industrial belt of Irungattukottai and Sriperumbudur, the TNHB project could also be a potential investment option for Chennai residents. “If the road connectivity is good, people would not mind even commuting from Thirumazhisai to places like Porur, Nandambakkam and Avadi on the city’s outskirts,” said a TNHB official.
- Property values appreciate in ECR in Chennai
The property values of East Coast Road (ECR) have crossed the mark of Rs 11,000 per sq ft at prime locations near beach and are still appreciating making it a top residential locality of Chennai. Visible expansion of IT/ITeS sector acting as the catalyst in the real estate growth. Revival of demand for luxury villas, increase in property prices and launch of new projects, all this has returned and bucking the Chennai’s submarket.
“Chennai is noting a continuous demand for luxury housing from quite some time now, primarily towards the peripheral locations of the city where premium homes are available at affordable values,” says AP Leo, property consultant at Nucleus Properties. The capital values of premium apartments and luxury villas have noted a hike of 10-15 per cent in past six months. The number of enquiries also showed an upward trend, seeing a hike of up to 25 per cent during the same period. The appreciation in property values can be attributed to the fact that it is primarily end-user driven rather than investors, he added.
The stretch from Palavakkam to Mamallapuram is the key hub seeing exponential demand and supply in the residential sector. These locations house projects in the premium category catering to HNIs, NRI’s and have demand for individual bungalows/villas priced at more than Rs 2 crore.
According to Sree Kumar from Sree Group of Properties, “Rental sector is too flourishing and have noted a significant appreciation of more than 30 per cent in recent past.” The rental values of a fully furnished 4-5 BHK villas/independent houses varies from Rs 60,000-90,000 per month depending on its location and proximity to neighbourhood beach.
ECR strategic situation near to the IT corridor is the major USP of the area. Enhanced demand from expats and HNI’s visiting to city for professional reasons are the major contributor in the upward rental and capital sector. On an average, the capital values at ECR vary from Rs 2,000-6,000 per sq ft depending upon location and connectivity. Residential land is also the next most transacted category after luxury villas, sums up Kumar.
Improved connectivity level, transportation and other infrastructural activities have created spurt in the upcoming housing projects in the suburban areas such as ECR. Looking at the prevailing demand and supply ratio, it is expected that the submarket will continue to witness positive trend in values.
- Old Mahabalipuram Road paves the way for realty development
The setting up of TIDEL Park on Rajiv Gandhi Salai or Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) in 2000 changed the landscape of the stretch forever, paving the way for the development of the IT corridor, as we know it, today. This development, naturally, led to the creation of a premium residential housing market along the belt starting from Madhya Kailash, all the way to Thiruporur, and beyond. OMR may have seemed like a distant suburb a few years ago, but now, it is very much a part of the city.
As Chitty Babu, MD and Chairman, Akshaya Pvt Ltd, points out, “OMR, up to Sholinganallur, is essentially an extension of the city, and should not be considered a suburb anymore. Take Velachery, for instance. Until recently, it was considered a low lying suburb that was only in the news during monsoons. But now, it’s a thriving residential and commercial zone, and very much a part of the city.”
The location of OMR – its proximity to Adyar, for example – has attracted large scale residential development here. This gives the area a distinct pricing advantage, says Chiity Babu. “The prices (per sq ft) are almost half of that in Adyar,” he adds, “So, at a distance of less than 5km from Adyar, one can procure an apartment for half the price.” Another factor that works to its advantage is its proximity to ECR. Badal Yagnik, MD, Jones Lang LaSalle, Chennai, says, “Prices on ECR are 50-60% higher than that along OMR. And both corridors are witnessing plenty of development in the residential/ commercial sectors.”
Although it was the IT sector that initially fuelled growth along OMR, it’s no longer the sole growth driver. As Badal Yagnik says, “It’s the demand for housing that has been driving growth in this area over the last few years.” He continues, “Last year, for instance, the city saw office absorption to the tune of 5 million sq ft, while this year, it is only 2 million sq ft. A large chunk of this space lies on OMR. Despite the fall in absorption rates, the demand for housing has been soaring along the OMR.”
While the stretch from Madhya Kailash to Sholinganallur has been witnessing maximum demand, even beyond Sholinganallur, the demand, though not as robust, exists. Badal says, “Prices along the Madhya Kailash-Sholinganallur belt have been increasing by 20% year-on-year. However, some of the best schools are coming up in large townships planned in the latter half of OMR.
Places like Padur, for instance, are set to grow, with malls like Marg Junction, and residential projects planned in the vicinity.” Any further development on OMR is bound to happen after the toll gate, due to non-availability of land on the stretch from Madhya Kailash to the toll gate. Chitty Babu adds that while prices (per sq ft) range around 7,500 until Sholinganallur, they are about 3,000 to 4,000 in the area from the toll gate to Thiruporur, and lesser as you move further.
- Chennai sees dip in home loan mart
With the home loan lending rate stabilising and property prices inching high, there has been a dip in the quantum of home loan applications being received by leading housing finance companies and banks. While a leading nationalised bank has estimated the dip by 10 per cent over last year, there are others who do not feel the pinch as there has been a consistent demand maintained this year. A few have even reported 25 per cent growth rate over last year. The average size of the loan has also reduced as the fast moving segment in the residential category across most micro markets is said to range between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 40 lakh.
In a fierce competition prevailing among HFCs and banks, a marginal variation in lending rate does not cause concern for borrowers as emphasis is laid on service and processing time which is becoming major criteria among home loan borrowers. At the same time, fixed rate option is becoming popular among a section of the people due to the increase in the quantum of loan as well as the tenure of the loan prescribed by select institutions, according to industry sources.
LIC Housing Finance is offering fixed rate option loan at 10.7 per cent for three years and 11.15 for five years. While Indian Bank offers fixed rate option up to Rs 2 crore at 11.5 – 12.0 per cent, Dena Bank extends the tenure even upto 10 years. Corporation Bank offers fixed rate option at 11.0-11.5 per cent. Federal Bank does not offer any fixed rate option but reduces the floating rate option to 10.48 – 11.23% depending on the loan amount and repayment period. A few banks do not offer fixed rate option at all.
With the demand for housing picking up in and around Chennai and seeking home loan an integral part of home buying exercise, it is expected that the competition will intensify in the coming months. In the bargain, improved service level, flexibility and strategic alliance with developers would transform the housing market for better days.
- A decline in demand for Chennai’s luxury apartments
Suburban Chennai’s residential apartment market is feeling the heat of the job market slump and poor increments given by most corporate houses. Industry sources say signs of softening of the market are evident, especially in the premium and luxury segment. “Apartments above 50 lakh per unit are hard to sell in the suburbs and those above 1 crore are moving sparingly,” said Kevin William Albert, associate director of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), an international realty firm.
The residential division of JLL, which sells about 1,500 apartments a year for major builders, does about 70% of the sales in the 40 lakh to 50 lakh bracket, he said. About 30%of sales happen in the 50 lakh to 60 lakh bracket. “We hardly promote anything above 60 lakh,” said Albert.
Right pricing of residential projects holds the key to successful marketing, said Albert. “Many builders take the last selling price of previous projects in the area as the benchmark price for their launch,” he pointed out. At times, it can go terribly wrong. Builders cannot charge the rate of a ready-to-occupy apartment on a project which is yet to be started. “Wherever there is such anomaly in pricing, buyers develop cold feet.”
Still, Chennai is better off than other cities, claims Isha Homes managing director Suresh Krishn.The macroeconomic implications are a matter of concern, but they have not yet impacted the city in a big way. But compared to last year,sales have dipped,he said.
Chennai market is facing many influences, which are specific to the city. While the supply was low last year, primarily because there was an inordinate delay in according approvals to residential projects, this year has seen many new projects flooding the market.
- Industrial sector drives residential demand in West Chennai
The residential market in Chennai has largely remained stable in the last one year. No sharp fluctuations have been recorded in property prices, unlike in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, as per market sources. The absence of overt speculations has also ensured that developers have moved pricing of homes in a stable and gradual manner thus keeping any unnatural spiking at bay. It has largely been the Southern and Central zones that have contributed to the rise in residential prices in the city. However, the industrial development in the western parts of the city has pushed the residential demand thereby increasing the price for residential units.
The residential demand in western localities is largely being driven by those working in various MNCs, automobile companies and manufacturing units. Also demand is witnessed form the NRI population.
For instance the stretch from Sriperumbudur to Orgadam has undergone large scale industrial development in the last few years. Many major automobile and manufacturing units are located here which include Hyundai, Nissan, Renault, Hero, , , Moser bear to name a few. An array of developers have forayed into this industrial belt in order to tap the rising residential demand that is being created owing to the industrial developments. The developers to have set base here include Tata Housing, Vijay Shanti Developers, Godrej Properties, Hira Nandani, Orgadam City developers, Mahindra Developers etc.
“The demand for residential units along this stretch is gradually pushing the prices here,” says Ramesh Goel of The Great India Realty Company. The prices in various localities in the western zone has shown slow but steady rise in prices in the last quarter. Sriperumbudur, for instance has recorded an average increase of 6 per cent in the capital values of multi-storey apartments. Localities such as Porur, Poonamallee, Mogappair registered an increase of 2-4 per cent, as per data on .com.
“While prices range between Rs 2500-4200 per sq ft in Orgadam, it is slightly higher in Sriperumbudur ranging between Rs 3000-4500 per sq ft,” informs another realtor T Satheesh of Landsmiht Realty. Prices are higher in Sriperumbudur owing to its strategic location near the Chennai-Bangalore Highway (NH4).
Both these localities cater to high end as well as affordable housing segment with various builders catering to different target group. For instance Godrej Properties have high end luxury projects while Tata Housing offers affordable options.
The region along Mount Poonamallee road and Porur is witnessing the infusion of fresh residential supply in the price band of Rs 4,000 per sq ft – 5,000 per sq ft. The proximity to the CBD and excellent connectivity to various industrial hubs is expected to drive growth in this region. “The Chennai Trade Zone, being developed by the Tamil Nadu Government, will be set up approximately 10 kms away from Poonamallee which is further expected to augment the need for residences in the locality, informed Rajesh Katariya of Katariya Real Estate Pvt Ltd.
- Chennai city housing prices zoom past Rs 1 crore
If you are an apartment owner in a good location in city areas, then you can feel proud that you are a crorepati today at least in notional values. But if you are the one due to invest in housing for a specific city location, you will have to cough up not less than Rs 1 crore. Soaring land values, lack of clear title properties, fierce competition among developers and demand exceeding supply have all made buying an apartment a virtually impossible task for the common man.
Yet another factor is the archaic development control rules which have throttled the housing development for decades in key locations across the city. Restrictions on FSI have made housing a costly exercise for Chennaiites over the years without rhyme or reason. The worst affected sector is the middle class for whom the question of acquiring their dream home in city areas will be a Herculean task hereafter. The Tamil Nadu Housing Board apartment owners in key city locations are sitting pretty as the redevelopment exercise on their existing units would fetch a windfall besides cash incentives in the years ahead.
Just visualise the apartment prices for select ongoing projects across city locations and for a 1200 sqft apartment the price is over Rs 1.25 crore: Alwarpet (Rs17,500-Rs20,000), Anna Nagar (East) (Rs 12,000-Rs12,500), Besant Nagar (Rs 12,500-Rs 13,750), Adyar (Rs 13,500), Kalakshetra colony (Rs 15,000), Kilpauk (Rs 12,800-Rs15,000), MRC Nagar (Rs 10,500-Rs15,000), Kasturi Ranga Iyenger road (Rs 28,000), Nungambakkam (Rs 13,000 – Rs15,000), R.A. Puram (Rs 13,500), Sri Nagar Colony (Rs 14,000-Rs16,000), T Nagar (Rs 12,700-Rs15,000) and Valmiki Nagar (Rs 11,000-Rs12,000).
Even the resale apartments in key city locations are quoted at rigid prices due to which the transactions are taking much longer time nowadays, say realtors monitoring secondary market price movements in the city.
At the same time not all city properties can fetch fancy prices. There are road restrictions and access issues that have made even prime properties lying idle for several years as buyers do not evince keen interest at such prices. Even property developers are shying away from joint development in such areas due to lesser ratio for development. Some developers are keen to even accept 55:45 (developer) as the sale value compensates them with higher revenue and the lead time is short besides there is a ready market for such units.
For the younger generation this is a timely lesson to start investing in homes much earlier than later. They can pursue their costly higher education without any institutional commitment while pursuing their initial careers. They can mortgage, rent and raise resources from housing finance companies and banks to pursue their academic interest without the need to depend on their parents.
- Buildings sans parking to face tough action
CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government is set to act tough against buildings that do not adhere to parking norms. Promoters and owners of buildings without adequate parking facility as prescribed by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority and the Directorate of Town and Country Planning will have to find alternative space in their vicinity to create parking space.
Only recently, the state government had promulgated an ordinance to save buildings that were constructed by violating the rules till July 27, 2007.
While framing rules for regularizing such buildings, the government has decided not to give any relief to those that violate parking rules. This is in view of the fact that the soaring vehicle population is taking a toll on road infrastructure.
"The new rules for regularization of buildings under Section 113 C of the Town and Country Planning Act will be released shortly and will be applicable to the entire state. There will not be any relief to those who have violated parking norms," said a senior official.
Buildings sans parking to face tough action - The Times of IndiaCommentQuote2Flag
- Chennai office market absorption drops marginally in Q1 FY 2013
BANGALORE: Demand for office space in Chennai has dropped marginally in the first quarter of the current financial year as corporate remain cautious due to ongoing economic crisis in the global markets.
As per Knight Frank, the city recorded a total absorption of 1.10 million sft in the April - June quarter of 2012 as compared to 1.20 million sft during the same period last year.
The share of IT/ITes sector, which contributed 75% of the total office space demand in the first of last fiscal slipped to 48% in Q1 of FY 2013.
"This decline in the IT/ ITeS sector absorption may be attributed primarily to the inability of the economies of the North American and European countries to revive as per expectations.
Although the IT/ITeS sector continues to be affected by economic constraints, with the market reflecting cautious optimism, leasing levels should remain firm and not decline drastically," says Knight Frank.
Some key transactions in Chennai in Q1 FY 2013:
Ascendas IT Park
DLF IT Park
L & T
Ambit IT Park
DLF IT Park
Chennai office market absorption drops marginally in Q1 FY 2013 - The Economic TimesCommentQuote0Flag
- Western corridor opens new channels for realty growth in Chennai
Western suburban areas of Chennai along the outer ring road (ORR) are witness to immense real estate activities these days. After the state government approval and land acquisition, the ORR between Nazarathpet and Nemilicherry has attracted many national and international industrial players to set up industries, and promote satellite townships.
According to Sabir Ahmed, a city-based property dealer of Mangal Estates, “The construction of the ORR stretch has enhanced connectivity to the western suburban areas by manifolds.” This has certainly led to an increase in the demand and supply of new realty projects in both the commercial and residential segments.
Localities such as Tondiarpet, George Town, Thiyagaraya Nagar, Perambur, Pallavaram and Chromepet are witnessing a surge in the realty market. But the oversupply in the market and lower volume of transactions has resulted in slow appreciation. The property values either remained stable or noted a marginal escalation of 5-8 per cent,” says Ahmed. The residential properties available in areas such as Pallavaram, Chromepet and Tondiarpet are available in the price range of Rs 3,000-5,000 per sq ft.
“The commercial sector is slowly picking up and is expected to grow once any major multinational will commence its operations from here,” says Sree Kumar of Sree Group of Properties. There is commercial office space available in the localities such as Pallavaram, Mount Road, Alwarpet, Perungudi, GST Road fetching Rs 5,000-10,000 per sq ft which is very reasonable. The rental values of these spaces vary from Rs 30-60 per sq ft per month. “Good connectivity and accessibility with the city centre, other suburbs and neighbourhood cities are the additional facilities driving the commercial market,” he added.
The ORR also aims to include new commercial belt and few new areas are being planned to accommodate commercial developments. Apart from residential and commercial development the ORR also includes other transport links such as monorail which is in the pipeline and rail networks. Upcoming western corridors will certainly have potential to develop into secondary business district of the city and with more inflow of capital, the market will witness appreciation.
- 50% of city’s land records computerised
CHENNAI: Computerisation of more than 50% of Chennai's land records has been completed so far. Land records of other urban areas (municipalities and corporations) would be computerised next within a definite time frame, said revenue minister Thoppu N D Venkatachalam.
Speaking at a conference of revenue ministers in New Delhi on Thursday, Venkatachalam said the government has assigned the State National Informatics Centre the task of developing a web-based software application for online management of land records. It would help update land records once the data entry is over. "On receipt of detailed project proposal from the National Informatics Centre, funds will be sought under the national land records modernisation programme from the Centre," he said.
50% of city’s land records computerised - The Times of IndiaCommentQuote0Flag
- IT sector sees decline in use of commercial office space in Chennai
CHENNAI: Due to the uncertain global market conditions, the Information Technology sector has witnessed a decline on the use of commercial office space in Chennai, says a study.
"Chennai office market is predominantly covered by the IT and IT-enabled services sector. In the first quarter of 2011-12, out of the total 1.20 million square foot absorbed, 75 per cent was contributed from the IT and ITeS sector", a study conducted by Knight Frank India said.
"However, in the first quarter of this financial year, share of IT and ITeS sector declined to 48 per cent due to the uncertain global market conditions," it said.
Sectors like media, telecom, aviation, automobile and consulting firms together contributed about 13 per cent in first quarter of 2011-12 to 22 per cent in first quarter of this financial year indicating the emergence of other sectors absorbing the commercial space market, it said.
On the outlook for this financial year, the study said the Chennai commercial property space has moved from an absolutely IT and ITeS sector, to a more diversified occupier base with the newer sectors.
The banking, finance and services industry (BFSI) vertical also strengthened its hold in the commercial space with its share increasing from six per cent in the first quarter of 2011-12 to eight per cent in the first quarter of this financial year, the study said.
IT sector sees decline in use of commercial office space in Chennai - The Economic TimesCommentQuote0Flag
- After collapse, corporation checks old buildings
CHENNAI: Agraharam-style houses built more than five decades ago, abutting each other in a cluster and sharing common walls and roofs, are considered one of the city's defining features. But the collapse of a three-storey building in Triplicane on Wednesday, killing two people , brought civic agencies under the scanner for allowing many of these buildings to turn into death traps.
It has been three years since the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) updated its second master plan to rebuild and strengthen old residential and commercial buildings in the city. However, as Chennai Corporation officials failed to act and the plan was put in cold storage, thousands of buildings in the city fell into disrepair.
The corporation finally acted on Thursday, sending engineers across the city to inspect buildings more than 50 years old. They have been directed to enumerate the buildings and carry out a structural stability audit for each of them. "We want to prepare a list of dilapidated buildings so that we can keep an eye on them," said corporation commissioner D Karthikeyan.
The inspections began on Thursday in old parts of the city like Triplicane, General Patters Road and Mylapore. The owners of dilapidated structures are likely to be served notices directing them to strengthen the buildings . But the exercise will provide little comfort to the relatives of K Thyagarajan, 65, and his wife Manjula Devi , 60, who died in Wednesday's collapse.
It is unlikely to guarantee any remedy because the northeast monsoon is only a month away. Experts say thousands of buildings in old localities like Triplicane and Parry's could simply crumble in heavy rain or if a minor earthquake strikes the city. The walls of most of these buildings, made of limestone and clay, have developed cracks. Plaster is peeling off their ceilings.
Experts warned against hasty measures to strengthen old buildings . "If the wrong methods are used, it could prove disastrous," said V Shanmugasundaram, former head of the department of civil engineering at Anna University.
He said the corporation or house owners should consult engineers and plan reinforcement of old buildings on a case-to-case basis. "If it is a limestone wall, it could just be replastered to increase its longevity," Shanmugasundaram said. "The walls that are beyond repair should be pulled down and rebuilt with concrete."
Safety experts are apprehensive about the government's proposal to draft a new bill that will exempt unauthorised structures from demolition if they are constructed on or before July 1, 2007. A CMDA official said the plan to reinforce old buildings was not implemented because it did not have the government's support.
After collapse, corporation checks old buildings - The Times of IndiaCommentQuote0Flag