'BJP must fast-track single window clearances for residential projects'
New Delhi: The Indian real estate market is in dire need of single-window clearances for residential projects, and this is something that the new BJP-led government must action on a priority basis. The process of project approval must be revised so that developers can launch more projects and increase supply, which will help in keeping prices down. The current system is completely counter-productive in its present form - if it can be called a form at all.
The lack of a streamlined projects approval mechanism is a symptom of India's retrograde bureaucratic machinery which causes untold losses to all stakeholders. The ill-effects are most visibly seen in Maharashtra, where the various constraints on real estate development have in fact played a big role reducing the pace of State-level growth.
It is certainly a well-known fact that real estate is one of the major contributors to GDP, and this sector cannot perform optimally in a scenario where a bewildering multitude of agencies are involved in processing approvals for real estate projects.
If we study the massive numbers of clearances and approvals that are required for residential projects in India, the challenges that developers have to face become very apparent. The old English proverb ‘there's many a slip between the cup and the lip' is very fitting here. The extensive efforts that a developer in India has to put in before a project is even approved for construction are not well understood.
Moreover, the procedural complications only increase once a project is cleared for development. A project can get road-blocked at any stage between construction commencement and completion because one or the other clearance or approval is being delayed by some government department or the other.
Developers face multiple repercussions because of these delays. In the first place, it affects the time it takes for returns to come in from a project. Secondly, delivery timelines play a big role in how attractive a developer's projects are to investors, and how much confidence end users will have in a developer. In other words, developers not only suffer financial loss because of approval delays, but also lose credibility because of this.
All eyes are now on the BJP, which has assured the Indian real estate fraternity that it will pay due attention to its issues. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it his mission to make housing affordable to all, but it is difficult to see how this can happen when the currently employed multi-agency approach to project approvals adds as much as 40% to the cost of constructing projects.
If the new government indeed provides single-window approval to housing projects, residential prices can come by 30-35% as a result. The introduction of a single-window housing project approval system would make it possible for residential developers to increase the supply of housing, which would not only help in addressing the country's massive requirement for housing but also increase the government's revenue collections from increased stamp duty and registrations.
Also, increased housing supply will mean healthier competition among developers, which will result in more rational and uniform pricing as well as boost innovation in project designs. These considerations combine to make a very compelling case for the BJP-led government to finally make single-window approvals for housing a reality.
(Kishor Pate is Chairman & Managing Director of Amit Enterprises Housing Limited)