Friday, November 09, 2007

Devanhalli airport - Nightmare waiting to happen

I wonder what the devenhalli plot investors are thinking when they see such articles. Its quicker to get to Chennai then devanhalli by road.

Think about the poor employees, pilots and in-flight stewards. I hope fatigue doesn't affect the pilots after such a long drive to reach work

BANGALORE: It’s killing. There’s no other way to describe it. It took us nearly three hours through numerous congested traffic junctions and suffocating pollution to get from Electronic City to the upcoming international airport in Devanahalli, a distance of 68 km. It was only a little better, about two hours, for those of us who started from J P Nagar and Rajarajeshwari Nagar.

With the new airport scheduled to open in just over four months, The Times of India undertook an exercise on November 5 to check out the exact nature of the travails one would have to go through to reach the airport. The distance and the poor accessibility to the airport has had everybody worried, and our exercise at evening peak hours proved it will probably be worse than what many imagined. By about the 25th kilometre from Electronic City, we were beginning to feel exhausted, and cab driver Paramesh was complaining about his legs paining from the constant clutching-braking. At times he would look and sound as if he regretted agreeing to make the trip.

From our experience, here’s what you need to be prepared for: if you are taking an international flight out of Bangalore which requires you be at the airport three hours prior to departure, then leave home at least five to six hours before the flight time. We say ‘at least’ because there’s a good chance your cab will scrape or hit somebody in the bumper-to-bumper traffic, which might lead to a hold-up.

Take along plenty of water and snacks. If you have to stretch a little, take an AC cab. It may cost you about Rs 1,000 or more (the rates are not yet clear) for a one-way trip to the airport, but it will probably be worth it.
Finally, a plea to the state government and the Bangalore International Airport Ltd: Don’t put Bangalore’s citizens through this. We deserve better. For frequent travellers, it will be sheer nightmare. Find a quick solution.

Subprime -101 tutorial

Comic relief on a serious topic

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Times of India recognizes the bubble

Mumbai: If you are not a slum dweller entitled to a free flat or a mill worker promised a subsidised tenement by the state government, chances are your dream house will remain a dream.
Despite sluggish sales, the city’s builders are holding on to their astronomical prices. Going by the rates that are being quoted by most developers, a salaried person looking out for accommodation in the suburbs could find the options very limited.
Inquiries by this newspaper show that apartments which are less than 1,000 sq ft in size are being priced at about Rs 1 crore in faraway suburbs like Chandivali and Jogeshwari.
Take, for instance, K Raheja Corp’s Maple Leaf project comprising seven wings of 20 storeys each in Andheri (east) opposite Chandivali studio. A twobedroom flat with a carpet area of 873 sq ft is being quoted at close to Rs 1 crore with stamp duty. The project will be ready for occupation only in mid-2009.
In Goregaon (east), a two-and-a-half bedroom apartment with a built-up area of 997 sq ft is going for Rs 1.15 crore in Oberoi Woods, a residential project comprising three 35-storey buildings which are being set up by Oberoi Constructions. The rate works out to about Rs 10,400 a sq ft. Goregaon (east) commanded a price of barely Rs 3,500 a sq ft about three years ago.
In Mulund (west), Nirmal Lifestyle is pitching duplex apartments in its Amethyst World Home for close to Rs 2 crore each. Each duplex has a builtup area of 3,200 sq ft (carpet is 28% less) and the asking rate per square foot here is Rs 6,000. In another Nirmal project called Polaris in Mulund (west), a two-bedroom home costs Rs 70 lakh with stamp duty.
Hiranandani Gardens in Powai is now a residential area for top corporate honchos, doctors and businesspersons. Under-construction buildings like Hiranandani’s upcoming 30-storey Sierra are already quoting Rs 3 crore and above for a three-bedroom flat. This works out to a whopping Rs 15,750 per sq ft up to the 20th floor and an additional Rs 200 per sq ft for each floor above that.
Even in neighbouring Thane, twobedroom flats have an asking rate of Rs 60 lakh in Siddhachal, a Kalapataru residential enclave on Pokhran Road No 2.
Despite slow sales, builders are refusing to lower prices
Two-bedroom flats cost close to Rs 1 crore in the suburbs
Middle class edged out to the fringes of the city
Experts blame govt for failing to create mass public housing Experts slam Maha govt
Mumbai: Rising realty prices are threatening to ruin the dream of the middle-class Mumbaikar of owning a house.
“With the kind of property prices being quoted today, a Mumbaikar has to earn a minimum of Rs 35 lakh per annum to afford the EMI for a two-bedroom house in the suburbs,’’ said Gopal Sharma, general manager (marketing) of Gundecha, a city-based builder.
“Today there are only two classes of people in Mumbai—the super-rich and the poor. There is nothing left for those in the middle,’’ said a veteran south Mumbai developer. Housing experts and activists have time and again blamed the state government for completely abdicating its role in providing affordable public housing and “leaving the field open to developers’’.
Another source in the industry told TOI, “Real estate prices have reached a level which is beyond the reach of the common man and even the business community. At these prices, a person can buy property only if he has made a bumper profit from any other business or the stock market.’’
According to the source, if the person takes a home loan, as much as 50% of his salary could go towards repaying the instalment. “At the end of the day he is just surviving to clear his debts. If anything goes wrong with him or if he loses his job or falls sick he will plunge . straight into a debt trap,’’ he said.
Rajiv Sabharwal, senior general manager, ICICI Bank, said that home loans are sanctioned based on the “fixed obligation to income ratio’’. It means the person’s capacity to pay the fixed monthly instalment vis-a-vis his salary. “It is generally in the range of between 35% to 50% of the person’s salary. For instance, if he is earning Rs 12 lakh a year, the EMI could be Rs 6 lakh,’’ he said.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mumbai builder arrested for land-grab

MUMBAI: The crime branch on Saturday arrested well-known builder Alpesh Ajmera (40) and Ram Narayan Singh alias Bacchi Singh, a henchman of underworld don Chhota Shakeel, in a land-grabbing case.

The anti-extortion cell is now looking for Alpesh’s brothers, Jiten and Rajesh. This is the third time Singh has been arrested in the past one month. He was earlier arrested in the Malad land-grabbing case and an extortion case.

Ajmera and Singh were produced before the Esplanade Metropolitan Magistrate and were remanded to police custody only till Sunday despite a plea for a 14-day custody. Both have been booked under charges of cheating, breach of trust, threatening and house breaking and theft.

Though the case dates back to 2005, it came to the crime branch only recently. The complainant, Shrishant Kalbag, who runs a supermarket in the western suburbs, had bought a plot measuring 2,000 sq ft near Bhavan’s College from Ajmera Builders for Rs 2.25 crore.

Deputy commissioner of police (crime) Deven Bharti said that Kalbag paid Rs 1.25 crore as down payment and applied for a loan for the rest. "Kalbag took legal possession of the plot from Ajmera and started work. But within a few months as prices shot up, Ajmera called Kalbag to his office in the presence of Singh and asked him to cancel the deal and surrender the keys of the shop," said inspector Vijay Salaskar.

When Kalbag refused, Jiten Ajmera whipped out his licensed revolver and threatened him with dire consequences stating that he was a relative of Lalit Dholakia, who is with the Dawood Ibrahim gang. When the threats did not work, on July 19 last year, Singh barged into Kalbag’s residence in Bandra along with five to six goons and forced him to open the door. Singh threatened Kalbag and his wife Heena with dire consequences if he did not sign the cancellation of deed. Kalbag approached the D N Nagar police who sat on his complaint after which he was forced to sign the cancellation deed, said Salaskar.

Later, when Kalbag went to his shop, he was shocked to see that goods worth Rs 30 lakh were missing. According to the complaint, Kalbag rushed to D N Nagar police station again but was shocked to see Ajmera chatting with the senior inspector and an encounter specialist. Singh, who was with Ajmera, told Kalbag, "Hamara koi kuch nahi bigad sakta"(Nobody can harm us). Kalbag approached the crime branch only recently after he read about Singh’s arrest.