Skirting a large part of Delhi-NCR, Ghaziabad’s case had often been felt to be a case of profiling, albeit unfairly. In a free-wheeling no-holds barred interview to Realty and More’s editor Palash Roy, Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA)’s vice-chairman SK Yadav seeks to dispel his city’s dismal image even as he carefully constructs a case for Ghaziabad as a city with promises galore, a city with eyes steadfast on good roads, metro connectivity, adequate affordable housing, and more importantly a blueprint for the future
PR : What is your roadmap in the coming years for GDA?
SY : In accordance with our Master Plan 2021, we have broken up our entire plan into two-yearpackages. So I will talk about the next two years. In the next two years, we will be investing `4,000 crore in Ghaziabad city alone to develop its infrastructure. And how? We would construct a 10-km elevated road from UP Gate to Rajnagar Extension which will cost us about `900 crore. This will be from the GDA fund. So you can reach Raj Nagar Extension from Delhi in seven to eight minutes flat. This will be a six-lane elevated road and even the traffic generating from city moving towards Delhi will use this. The contract is expected to be awarded by mid-January and the work shall start by January-end or the beginning of February.
PR : The perception is that despite improvements, Ghaziabad still lags in comparison with other NCR towns like Noida and Gurgaon. Is there a plan to change that?
SY : In six months, you will see that all the four-five entry points of Ghaziabad will have better road infrastructure than Delhi. The work for these has been tendered and awarded and it will be done in six months time.
On law and order issues, I had a meeting with the police authorities. I asked them what they wanted. They asked for bikes, jeeps, vehicles, cranes, etc. and we gave them eight cranes, fifty bikes, ten Boleros, five Scorpios. I said we will give whatever equipment they want, as I need the perception to change. Only then people will come, invest and the GDA will also generate revenue thereby.
PR : Are there other plans to promote Raj Nagar Extension as the new residential hub of NCR?
SY : Yes certainly. I am in touch with Rajeev Shukla, president, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), for constructing an international cricket stadium here. Ferozeshah Kotla (Delhi’s cricket stadium) is a small ground and this new ground will be good for international cricket matches as well as providing a boost to the region. We have already located land for this which will soon be
transferred to them.
PR : After Vaishali, Vasundhara, Indirapuram, Raj Nagar Extension and Crossings Republik, is the GDA planning to introduce new residential growth corridors along National Highway 24 and in Raj Nagar Extension?
SY : Yes. NH-58 goes to Meerut and Dehradun, NH-24 goes to Bareilly and Lucknow, then there is the State Highway 58 which goes to Saharanpur. Now we plan to construct a 20-km ring road for which land acquisition will cost us around `250 crore, and construction will cost another `450 crore, which means a total of `700 crore. This will be in PPP mode, wherein land will be provided by the GDA, and construction work will be done by agencies. Thirteen major developers of the country have participated on this. The Uttar Pradesh state cabinet will soon take a decision on this. This will open new vistas. This will unlock lots of areas. So after this,
you will be able to reach Delhi in not more than 20 minutes from any part of the city. Moreover, we are also mooting for dynamic land use. In this 20-km stretch, there will be a knowledge city, somewhere there will be toy city, somewhere there will be a recreational city, a mini-industrial city, and so on. So with these two major plans involving `900 crore and `700 crore, the road infrastructure will undergo a major change and it will unlock lots of areas.
SY : About 110 acres of land will be acquired for this. For this particular ring road project, farmers themselves are coming forward because it passes through green fields, and they know that once the project comes up, their land value will go up like anything. So I don’t think there will be any problem in land acquisition.
PR : What are your plans to decongest NH-24 and the Hindon stretch?
SY : We are connecting NH-58 and NH-24. We awarded this work about six months back which is costing us`250 crore. This work will be done in the next six months. On the widening of NH-24, talks with the Centre are in an advanced stage with the UP CM maintaining regular touch. The UP CM has written a few letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also on this as well as maintaining touch with the union surface transport minister. Top officials are involved in the talks. The project will be in the EPC mode. So it is in an advanced stage and is expected to come through soon.
PR : What is the update on the dumping ground near Crossings Republik?
SY : 9,000 acres of hi-tech township is coming up along NH-24. Seven integrated cities are located in Ghaziabad city itself. Lots of waste will be generated by them. We have already been provided 25 acres of land in a place called Galand which we have already transferred to the Nagar Nigam. Five more acres will also come. Once 30 acres are in place, I believe the Nagar Nigam will establish a state-of-the-art waste management facility. They are also in touch with the UP government on this.
SY : It is in place already. Three months back, our board cleared a proposal. We started with a small area. Right now the routes along the metro rail track – Raj Nagar Extension, Shalimar Garden, Sahibabad, etc, wherever there is a 18-metre wide road, the rules are in place.
Our approach is incremental, we thought let us gain some experience first and then we will go throughout Ghaziabad. So equipped with this experience we will accordingly move ahead.
PR : Recently you announced that no builder can give possession with out a completion certificate, which in a way is right. But builders complain there are lots of problems in getting completion certificates. Can this process be made simpler with documents like deemed completion certificates?
SY : That is a bit difficult. I am in regular touch with developers. They say Fire NOC should be deemed. It cannot be deemed as it relates to peoples’ lives. Some things can be considered ‘deemed’ but not things like this. So there are specific instructions that no completion certificate be given till such things are in place.
But if say, Fire and Lift NOCs are in place then we are giving them the certificates. We have already given lots of completion certificates. In last two months or so, we have streamlined and simplified the procedures. In Ghaziabad, there are probably more than 300 group housing towers. Earlier, not more than eight to ten of them had applied for completion certificates. There was simply no culture. I am the one who is enforcing this, so it is new to them.
PR : Red tape is another blockage in the way of development?
SY : See, we have a map approval process. GDA is the only development authority in the country where if anybody comes up with his own housing map at 10 AM, we give the approval the very same day by 4 PM. Nowhere does it happen in the entire country. We do this by cutting out various processes that are not required.
PR : Does it hold true for Group Housing map approvals too?
SY : For Group Housing maps we are going to do online approvals. This has again not been done anywhere in the country. We are the first one. IBM is developing a software for this. They are working on this for the past six months. This is the first of its kind. After this happens, any developer sitting anywhere in the country can apply for the Group Housing map and we will give the approval in two to
SY : We plan to make more land available which is the most important thing for affordable housing. To me, affordability is housing at `10-12 lakh, beyond which it is not affordable. And the demand today is for two lakh houses in Ghaziabad. Developers suggested buying of agriculture land and waiving off of conversion charge, to which too I agreed. Now if you are making houses in such places, you need to develop that, for which we charge the external development fee. Developers asked for a waiver of that as well, to which also I agreed, saying it will be done from GDA money. We also have internal development charge and developers asked for a percentage of it, to which I again agreed. So these are the changes that are taking place. And the moment they are ready for implementation, you will see lots of affordable housing projects. The byelaws also talk of keeping space aside for two car parkings. But if someone is going for affordable housing, he will not have two cars. So that space can be cut out. We spoke to developers to fine tune these rules.
PR : Are there any new housing schemes in the offing?
SY : In January, we are launching a housing scheme for 700 flats comprising two, three, and four bedroom flats. This will also bring in market corrections. While the developers are selling flats in this region at about `5,000 per square feet, we will offer the same at around `3,000 per square feet.
PR : What is the metro rail roadmap that you have set for Ghaziabad?
SY : Three metro rail routes are being planned. Dilshad Garden in Delhi to Ghaziabad city; metro extension from Vaishali to Indirapuram; and the extension from Noida Sector 32 to Sector 62 and then on to Indirapuram. Also work has started on connecting the metro to Loni.
However, in spite of solid commitment from the UP government, things are getting delayed which is unfortunate. There are some objections from the Delhi government, but we will sail through.
PR : Is FAR tradable in Ghaziabad? If yes, what are the norms?
SY : It is not tradable as of now. But we have recommended to the government to make it tradable. So the UP government is considering this new concept.
PR : The power situation is another big major problem in Ghaziabad?
SY : For the last 12 years, Power Corporation wanted 10 acres of land from GDA to establish a 400-KV sub-station, which GDA never gave because 10 acres meant `400 crore. But a 400-KV power station means, for the next 20 years, all the power needs of the city will be met. Now I have already given them 10 acres and work has already been started. In the next two-and-a-half years, it will be completed.
PR : Any plans to promote tourism in Ghaziabad?
SY : We are in the process of developing 250 acres of lake in Hasanpur in Ghaziabad. It is around 25-km from Delhi. We will make resorts, golf courses, walkways and much more to make it a big tourist attraction.
PR : By when it will be ready?
SY : Work has already started and will be completed in the next two years. As I don’t want to concretise the place, it is being developed in harmony with the nature. Also near Rajnagar Extension and the Hindon base, we are developing a 100 acres cityjungle which will be called Kanha Upvan. While the concept is ready, work will start soon. We are also in the process of making a beautiful 30-acre city park which will be ready in the next six months. All this is being funded by GDA.