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Central portal would have been better: Assotech MD

Assotech

Describing RERA as a step in the right direction, Neeraj Gulati, Managing Director of Assotech Realty, is unhappy with the way it is being implemented during the past one year. In a chat with Realty & More Editor Palash Roy, Gulati said it is because of the dichotomy as RERA is a Central law the implementation of which has been left to the states. According to him, it would have better if the implementation, especially the portal part of it, had been handled by the Centre. “I wish it was a Central portal but to be regulated state-wise”, said Gulati emphasising that all states are not equally tech-savvy and bureaucracy everywhere does not have the same kind of efficiency level. The Assotech MD also informed R&M that the senior living project, which he company has been planning, is very much in the pipeline and an announcement in this regard may be made within this year itself.

Palash Roy: It has been a year since RERA was implemented. What is your take – how is the implementation, is it working fine, are things changing?

Neeraj Gulati: First of all, let me tell you that if you are asking on a personal basis, RERA is a step in the right direction. The issue has always been of implementation. And as expected, the implementation has not been very smooth, especially because it is a state matter. Some states are doing well, some are not doing so good, and some are absolutely bad. I recently read that 16 state governments have not been able to come out with rules and regulations, which means the implementation has not happened at all. So, one year has passed and nothing has actually happened in these states.

But the thing is work cannot stop. The work is going on, people and business houses, who have bought land, are working in those geographies. They can’t stop. Also there are many states where rules are not in place; some formats are not in place. For example, CA certification is required before a developer can operate the account. These formats were not available earlier but they have recently come from the UP Government, after one year. Also, there are certain things like agreement to sell or agreement to sub-lease. The formats for these have not been issued even now. We have been interacting for these on a regular basis.

PR: But there are states like Maharashtra where RERA is functioning very well?

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NG: Maharashtra is one state which is doing the best. Gujarat and some others are doing well but not the best. Maharashtra RERA has definitely come up very well. I wish the implementation part specially the portal part of it, was a Central portal but to be regulated state-wise. It may have been a better situation because every state is not that savvy. Every state means the political incumbents and the bureaucracy in each state has different efficiency level whereas you are trying to implement a Central law in all the states. So, the dichotomy is the law is Central but the implementation is in states and all the states have different efficiencies.

  • And as expected, the implementation has not been very smooth, especially because it is a state matter. Some states are doing well, some are not doing so good, and some are absolutely bad.
  • There are certain things like agreement to sell or agreement to sub-lease. The formats for these have not been issued even now. We have been interacting for these on a regular basis.
  • I wish the implementation part specially the portal part of it, was a Central portal but to be regulated state-wise. It may have been a better situation because every state is not that savvy.
  • Not only the portal part, there are other issues as well – even at the authority level. The RERA authority itself is not adequately manned even after one year. The bureaucracy, which should be in place to implement, is still not there.
  • We are doing something in association with Maldives Government. It is a social housing project with a free-sell element also. It is progressing well, and on expected lines.
  • Having a service provider in this segment (senior living) is the biggest challenge and we are looking at various service providers. We have shortlisted one and we are in the process of finalising.

PR: This is a good idea, but through Credai why don’t you tell this to the Central Government that there should be a Central portal which will monitor or regulate various state portals?

NG: We are beyond that stage. I don’t think that is going to happen because there are many other priorities for the Central Government than this. Not only the portal part, there are other issues as well – even at the authority level. The RERA authority itself is not adequately manned even after one year. The bureaucracy, which should be in place to implement, is still not there.

PR: When you say that many states are not completely ready and they are unable to implement, is it because of their technological inefficiency as well?

NG: Yes! They don’t know how to do it. They don’t have people who know how to do it and because everybody is doing separately so everyone is actually contacting different service providers, different formats etc. So these are some real challenges on the implementation of RERA.

PR: Now coming to Assotech. You have recently launched a project in Maldives. How is it doing?

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NG: It is doing fine and we are doing something in association with Maldives Government. It is a social housing project with a free-sell element also. It is progressing well, and on expected lines.

PR: Can you please explain what social housing is?

NG: Social housing means something like public housing, like here DDA and all such bodies who make houses for public good. We have a contract with the Government to supply the houses at a certain price. So, the Government is the buyer and, in turn, it will sell to the public. That is the format.

PR: Apart from Maldives project and ABC Phase-2, anything else in the pipeline?

NG: We are thinking of coming up with another IT project on similar lines on Noida Expressway.

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PR: You also had plans of venturing into senior living. Is the plan still in place?

NG: Yes, the plan is definitely in place and we are working out relationship with service providers. Once the relationship is finalised, we will move ahead.

PR: In which geography, will the first project come in this segment?

NG: Either Gurugram or Goa or one of the South Indian cities, Hyderabad or Bengaluru.

PR: Do you already have land banks in these places?

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NG: We have tie-ups for land. We don’t buy land always.

PR: So once you finalise the service provider, you will start working on it?

NG: Yes, we will start working after finalising the service provider. Having a service provider in this segment is the biggest challenge and we are looking at various service providers. We have shortlisted one and we are in the process of finalising. Hoping that it works out!

PR: By when do you hope to announce your first senior living project?

NG: I think we should be a announcing it within this year only.

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