R&M interview with GNIDA CEO Debasish Panda
‘Making Greater Noida happening is my target’
Making Greater Noida happening is the prime target of Debasish Panda, who took over as the CEO of GNIDA about four months ago. A 1987-batch IAS officer of the cadre, who was the state3’s Principal Secretary (Home) before taking up the present assignment on May 22, Panda is quite bullish about the physical and social infrastructure of Greater Noida. In an interview with Realty & More Editor Palash Roy, he said though the primary objective of GNIDA is to get industries and investments in Greater Noida, he is confident that once these come, jobs and residential boom will follow.
Panda also negated the common perception that Grater Noida is losing out to Yamuna Expressway region when it comes to investment in manufacturing sector. He said rather forcefully that the three authorities in the region are working in tandem and there is no competition among them. Each region, he said, had its own advantages and whenever there is an investment opportunity, “we offer all the three regions”.
The following is the text of R&M’s interview with GNIDA CEP Panda:
Palash Roy: What are your plans for the development of Greater Noida?
Debasish Panda: As you are aware, we are an industrial development authority, so our primary focus is to get industries, get investments in to Greater Noida and create jobs so that there is an overall economic growth in this region.
There is a huge potential in Greater Noida because of its strategic location. We are almost zero distance from the National Capital Region and further more we are going to get connected with Metro by the middle of the next year. Apart from that, the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and the Western Peripheral Expressway are also cris-crossing Greater Noida. Another major project that is coming up is the Dedicated Freight Corridor. With Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, we have a Special Purpose Vehicle. We are setting up an industrial township of 800 acres of land.
PR: Will this township come up at Bodaki?
DP: Yes, near to Bodaki, and this is very close to peripheral expressway.
Apart from that, we are also going to set up a multi-modal logistic hub, which means it will have cold chain storage, warehousing and facilities of grading, packing, etc. So, all the produce also can come here, manufacturing products, agriculture products can all come here and from here can be sent to different parts of the country because you have a dedicated fright corridor which will take 12- 14 hours to reach Mumbai and almost the same length of time to reach Kolkata. From there it can be distributed and exported. So, that is the advantage.
PR: Will you please dwell more on that?
DP: We have an excellent physical infrastructure, which is one of the prerequisites, and also the social infrastructure. Suppose if someone invests Rs 1,000 crore that would mean anywhere between 1,000 to 3,000 people will be employed. For them you need residential facilities. They will require schools, hospitals, entertainment, leisure, and everything is here.
All the big schools are here – DPS, Cambridge, Somerville. We have a university here – Gautam Buddha University. Then there are large numbers of institutions run by the private sector. We have hospitals also. We have a state-run 500-bed hospital which we are planning to upgrade to a medical college or a university eventually. Besides, we have a large number of private nursing homes, and super specialty hospitals. We have a golf course, good number of hotels, malls, and recreational facilities…everything is here. So it is an attraction for anyone. We can assure to the prospective investors and entrepreneurs that this is the time you should come.
Moreover, the Government has come up with a new industrial policy which offers a host of incentives. We are probably the first state to give relief and assistance reimbursement of SGST. Mega projects enjoy host of other incentives, and the ease of doing business is our priority. There will be a single window where people will apply online for all the clearances that are required. Everything will come through one bunch, get segregated and go to the respective departments and authorities which are allowed to give permissions. And all this has layers of monitoring also, which will also be done at the level of Chief Minister. That is the kind of importance which is being given to investors to set up industries. And this is not for Noida, Greater Noida, and Yamuna regions only, but for the entire state of Uttar Pradesh.
PR: You are saying you will be seeking investment but lately it has been seen that Greater Noida is losing out to Yamuna Expressway region when it comes to the manufacturing sector?
DP: We are not competing with Yamuna. That is also a part of our state. Yamuna is a new Authority very consciously set up. Jewar Airport will be falling in that region. If large chunks are required for investments, Yamuna can offer them as land there is cheaper as compared to Greater Noida. But if you are making large investments, then Greater Noida is the place, for example – high-tech sectors and biotech industries.
PR: Isn’t Greater Noida largely becoming an educational hub?
DP: No! The land-use is very clearly differentiated, how much is for institutions and how much for industries. There is a need for having enough number of educational institutions also. You should be aware that this is a planned city and as per the planning, you have industrial areas, institutional areas, commercial areas and the residential areas.
PR: But it seems the manufacturing units are going more towards Yamuna area?
DP: No, it’s not that way. Whenever there is a delegation, or investment inquires are made, we offer all the regions – we have something in Noida, something in Greater Noida and something else in Yamuna. As I said, if it is a big industry which requires large chunks of land, it will be preferable to go to Yamuna, and if it is a high-value investment, then the preferable destination is Greater Noida.
PR: So, you mean both are complementing each other?
DP: Yes that is the precise answer!
PR: In the residential sector, lots of unrest is there across the region. Any specific measures which you are taking and would like to list?
DP: If you look at it, the entire real estate sector is in the middle of trouble throughout. Of course, the National Capital Region is also dealing with issues. We are in the process of trying to work out solutions. There are some projects which can complete and deliver the flats to customers. We are facilitating that. But there are some builders who are in a bit of crisis. We are conducting a study, or an audit, so that we can find possible alternatives for getting these projects completed as fast as possible because our topmost priority is the buyers.
PR: In some cases, a builder has completed a project but has not paid, say for example, dues to the Authority as a result of which registrations are not happening. Are you devising any solution to this kind of a problem?
DP: The Government has come up with a scheme called the Project Settlement Plan which enables the builders to opt for it. They have to pay a certain amount and the balance is rescheduled and some amount of ease is provided through that scheme. About 50-odd builders or projects have applied for it and we have entertained all those applications. Among them about 17 projects’ outstanding has been rescheduled, another 30-35 have sought more time. They are in talks with banks and we hope they will be able to sort out. Then, we will be rescheduling their outstanding as well.
PR: In case a builder is unable to complete the project, then can a co-developer come to finish the project?
DP: We are conducting an audit and then we will see what the alternatives are. Yes, co-developer is one possible solution for it.
PR: If a developer comes to bail out another developer, will he be granted ext
DP: We have to work out the details on how we can get a co-developer on board. Once we have the audit, and done the study, once we are complete with that, we will be in a position to work out. And it will vary case-to-case, project-to-project. All that needs to be worked out–how to introduce a developer, what will be the terms and conditions and how do we get a developer on board, through a bid process or something else, all those details will be worked out. We are in the middle of doing that activity.
PR: Are you working closely with buyers’ and developers’ associations?
DP: We are meeting everybody, all of them are stakeholders. Our topmost priority is to see that the projects get completed, the buyers get their flats and the Authority gets its money so that it is business as usual after that. This is a huge problem and we are trying to sort this out.
PR: How much time, do you think, it will take to settle?
DP: We cannot define a timeline but we are working very hard, very actively. Almost every day, something or the other we are engaged with.
PR: Lastly, any target that you have set for yourself?
DP: My target is to make the city, this township, happening with industries flourishing, commercial activities going on, with people coming in and moving into the city, ensure better quality of life, maintain good services, and keep the city as green as possible. These are my objectives or targets that I have set for myself.