As he completes two years in office, YEIDA chief PC Gupta is picked up by the Realty & More editorial board as its choice for the •Agents of Change• series. With a single-minded focus and utmost devotion to the onerous task at hand, Gupta has brought about a massive change in the Yamuna Expressway region with his all-round initiatives. And the journey is on! With relentless energy and a pool of innovative ideas, Gupta goes on steadfastly with his mission to take YEIDA to greater heights of glory.
From settling the compensation claims of the farmers in the region to launching the first-ever affordable housing scheme to strengthening its industry focus, PC Gupta, CEO ofthe Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (VElDA), has been able to transform both the profile and also the perception about the Authority and the region it is mandated to work for. An affable, yet no-nonsense, hardworking professional, Gupta has brought about a sea change in the functioning ofthe Authority by lavishing it with a host of achievements within twoyearsofhis reign in office.
A major credit for that goes to the strict regimen Gupta follows, both at home and work, his Spartan habits, an eye for detail and an unwavering focus on responsibility at hand. An LLB pass-out of 1981, Gupta gets up at six and regularly spends two hours on morning walk that includes an exercise in yoga and a bout of meditation. A normal day at work is a busy schedule of holding official meetings, clearing files, making policy decisions and meeting developer and public representatives at appointed hours. The hectic day at work is followed by happy hours at home with his wife and three children, two daughters and a son. In between, Gupta is able to steal sometime for his valuable pastime- reading.
In a relaxed conversation with Realty & More, looks back with satisfaction and a good degree of pride at the changes he has been able to bring about in a short span of two years he has been at the he I m of YE IDA. “When I joined two years back, farmers’ agitation was at its peak and there were issues regarding compensation and resettlement,” he said. “lnthesetwoyearswiththehelp of state Government, the compensation issue has been sorted out and there is consensus on giving enhanced compensation to the farmers.”
Gupta informed us that there was a condition that the farmers had to take back the petitions. People of three villages, where the compensation has been given, did so and the proceedings are on in other villages. “So, the big problem of farmers not letting us do development work due to compensation issues has been solved,” he said with a sense of contentment. “There is a conducive environment in this area now and farmers are also supporting our developmental work,” he added.
Talking about the other major feat, the VElDA chief said, “When I joined here, I realised that the Authority had not done much for affordable housing segment, and builders were also not giving much attention to this.” In the last two years, he said, “We came up with affordable housing, comprising smaller houses of 30 sq m, 50 sq m and 90 sq m areas catering to Lower Income Group (LIG) and Middle Income Group (MIG). Around 7,000-7,500 such units are under construction. I am hopeful of delivering around 4,500 flats in a year’s time and the rest in two years.”
Another big issue, which justifies the R&M’s decision to shower the ‘Agent of Change’ epithet on Gupta, is that despite being an industrial township, previously not much focus was given to industry in the Yamuna Expressway area. As a result, the industries did not come in the region. “For the last one year, major focus is on getting more and more industries and promoting these in this region, he said, and added, “We have been very successful in this.”
Due to the good connectivity of this area many industrialists are showing their interest, Gupta said. “In the last one year, we have allotted around 1,1 00 industrial plots here, where the development work is going on now. Very soon small industries are going to be set up here, as these are smaller plots of sizes varying from 300 to 1,800 sq. metres. Some agro processing and dairy processing units have already come up in this re ion,” he told Realty&More.
Another big development which has happened in the area is that YEIDA has reserved 100 acres of land for electronic manufacturing cluster and allotted the same to the UP Electronic Corporation. The corporation will develop the land where mainly cellular and LED companies are showing interest. Many such companies have already visited the site and showed interest. So, this 100 acres will be developed as electronic manufacturing cluster.
Apart from this, Gupta informed us, “We are receiving many queries for textile, automobile and food processing units. We are hoping that soon such kinds of units will also be set up here.” Another sector from where the Authority is getting considerable queries is amusement and recreation. “In our Master Plan, the area between the Yamuna River and Yamuna Expressway has been kept green, where we are promoting recreational activity. People are showing interest in this area for amusement parks and theme parks. And I hope, soon investors will come for this as well.” he said expectantly.
Probing Gupta deeper on the farmers’ issue, we asked whether all their issues have been solved and if the YEIDA and farmers are on the same page now, to which his reply was, “Farmers had only two main issues – one of which was increased compensation of 64.7 per cent similar to what was given in Noida and Greater Noida by a court order.” Though the court order was not applicable on YEIDA as the Authority was not a party to the case, the state Government decided to give similar increased compensation to the farmers of Yamuna Expressway region also. “So, the big issue of compensation is finally over,” he said satisfactorily.
Elaborating further, Gupta said the other issue was of resettlement of the farmers in the same region for which the state Government has made and approved a regulation, and a committee has been made for the purpose. The committee comprises senior officials of YEIDA and representatives of the Collector and the SSP. The committee is regularly holding meetings with the farmers and resettlement work is in progress.
With a sense of achievement in his tone, Gupta told Realty & More, “There were these two main issues, and work is on for both the issues. A consensus has also been reached.” The Government and the Authority, he said, have made the required rules and regulations the implementation of which is being done on ground. “So, all the grievances of farmers have been taken care of, and I hope in six to eight months, all the issues will be sorted out,” the YEIDA chief informed us.
Though not totally Authority-specific, Realty & More tried to seek Gupta’s views on a related issue of the Land Acquisition Ordinance of the Central Government. We also asked him if the changes to the Land Act of 2013 are finally in place, what will be their impact on YEIDA. Will the land acquisition become easier or tougher for the Authority? Gupta said there are two-three major issues- one of which is pre-consent of 70 per cent farmers prior to the acquisition, which is a big issue. “Fortunately,” he said, “When we were doing acquisition earlier, we were doing as per the agreement guidelines. As per a pre-determined rate decided by a commissioner-level committee, farmers were offered compensation. And you will be surprised to know that in our earlier acquisitions we had consensus of almost 85 to 90 per cent farmers. So the pre-consent provision will not impact us.”
The other provision of the Social Impact Assessment will as such not make much impact, but it will make the entire acquisition process very lengthy, he said. “We have devised an alternative system under which we directly purchase land from farmers with their consent,” he added. Talking about circle rate, the YEIDA boss told us, “Being an industrial town, circle rate of urban area is applicable here, which means we have to pay two times of the circle rate in case of compulsory acquisition.”
The circle rate of the Yamuna Expressway area is around ~800/sq.m., which on doubling becomes Rs 1 ,600/sq. metre. But the Authority is already are giving around Rs 1 ,900/sq.metre on direct purchase from farmers. Additionally, it gives the benefit of 7 per cent developed land to farmers. Taking all this into account, it turns out to be around ~2.500/ sq.metre compensation. “So, I don’t think there will be any issues if and when the new Act comes into place,” Gupta summed up. The man who has worked exceptionally hard to bring about a transformation in the region with his multifarious initiatives, was candid when Realty& More asked him why Yamuna Expressway has not been able to take off despite all this. “In the initial few years, housing sector was promoted the most. Focus was not on industries. But since last two years, we are focusing on industries”, he said. Naida’s success, according to Gupta, can be attributed also to the fact that it had the advantage of being in close proximity to Delhi, which is not the case with Yamuna Expressway. “So, unless industries come here and set up their units, this area is not going to take-off,” he emphasised and explained,”Once people come to work here, they would want houses to stay here. So, before housing schemes, the main requirement for this area is to develop industries and institutions. Therefore, our main focus in on setting up of industries and institutions, housing will come later.”
The vision, according to Gupta, is reflected by the fact that apart from the electronic manufacturing cluster coming up on 1 00-acre area, food processing sector has good potential in the region. In the YEIDA-notified area, there is 2,65,000 hectares of land, of which development is happening only on around 24,000 hectares. The rest is agriculture land. For the agriculture produce, if there are processing units here, it will be beneficial for the farmers, says Gupta, as raw material will be easily available. “Considering this, we made a scheme that more than 25 acres of land can be taken by developers to develop parks. Post- development, he can allot smaller parcels of the same for allied industries,”he said.
While Gupta was going gung-ho about promoting industries in the region, we couldn’t resist raising the offrepeated concerns about law and order situation in the areaas it is an established fact that no industry wi II venture to set base here till these are addressed. To this Gupta’s reply was, “There will be much improvement in the law and order situation in the days to come.” The basis for his optimist stems from the fact that the state Government has given major attention to this aspect.
Last year six new police stations have been sanctioned for Gautam Buddh district. Though no new police stations are planned for Yamuna Expressway, the strength of existing stations will be increased. “I think, very soon we will have proper police force for the region,” he said confidently, and added, “The Authority is providing the required infrastructure support, like patrol cars for mobility and CCTV systems. In our Master Plan, we have identified sites for police station and have sent that to the police department. We are waiting for their final report. After getting their report, we will send a formal request to the Government as to how many new police stations are needed. Very soon a final decision will betaken.”
Since the development status of any region can be better understood only in conjunction with the condition of public transportation in the region, Realty & More also quizzed Gupta about this problem in the Yamuna Expressway. “Yes!” he admitted, “Public transportation is a big problem here.” But, he was quick to add, “As you know, the Noida-Greater Noida Metro Rail route has been approved, and soon the work will start on that stretch. We planned a loop from Noida-Greater Noida Metro for Yamuna Expressway. We have asked DMRC to make a pre-feasibility report for Yamuna Expressway. We hope that in the feasibility report the loop of Metro will come up by the side of the Expressway.”
As has been reported in the previous issues of Realty & More, Gupta also elaborated on YEIDA move to prepare a multi modal transit plan to provide feeder service for connecting other areas with the Metro. For this prefeasibility report, the Authority has issued RFP and 13 companies have shown their interest and given their presentations. “I think we will be able to finalise it soon,” Gupta informed us . Summing up the transportation plan for the region, he said, “City bus service for narrower routes, and for broader areas tram services can be opted. So, one integrated transport plan will be made which will have all the three modes of transport- Metro Rail, tram and city bus service. To prepare a feasibility study of this integrated plan, we are soon going to hire a consultant.”
He also clarified the perception that the Metro Rail feasibility report which YEIDA is getting prepared will be from Greater No ida to Agra. “No, not till Agra. Initially, it will be confined till the first phase, which you can say, till Jewar,” said Gupta. Before concluding a long-drawn conversion with R&M’s ‘Agents of Change’ choice for the current issue, we broached the financial health of YEIDA with him and sought to know how the Authority was going to service the huge debt on it. “Yes, as on date, the total debt on the Authority is about f3,300 crore and the additional compensation liability is around f5,000 crore,” Gupta said. But, he added confidently, “Our officers have made a cash flow of the land which we have, which we have sold, and which will come to us. As per that projection we will be paying off all the debt by 2020 and we will also have surplus cash of aboutf4,000 crorewith us.” The YEIDA chief was candid enough to admit that “We have liquidity crunch today, we don’t have cash with us.”
But summing up on a positive note, he said, “We have property, land bank, and also we are to receive amount for the properties we have sold. With all these, we will beable to clear off all our liabilities and undertake developmental work. Our plans are chalked out till2021, as per our approved Master Plan.