Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Old Bangalore airport stays, rules High Court

Bye Bye Devanhalli. The speculators are screwed.

CHANGE IN FLIGHT PLAN: Karnataka High Court says old Bangalore airport must be retained.

Bangalore: The old Bangalore airport must be retained and the business agreement according to which had to be shut down must be renegotiated, the Karnataka High Court ruled on Wednesday.

The court asked the state and Central governments, the Airports Authority of India to renegotiate the deal with the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL).

The governments had signed a deal with BIAL that the existing HAL airport in the city would be shut once the new private airport becomes operational. The new airport, which is 40 km away from the city, is scheduled to become operational on May 11.

City civic groups have said roads to the new airport have not been built and the government should retain the HAL terminal. At least four public interest petitions were filed in the High Court against the closing the HAL airport.

The new airport is supposed to handle 10.1 million users by 2010. but HAL airport is already handling 10.5 million passengers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Investing near ‘Dryanahalli’?

No Roads and now no water and no commercial approvals. Maybe electricity for 4 hours a day. Investors in Devenahalli are screwed.

BANGALORE: Sheer lack of groundwater is set to dampen investors’ spirits in reaping benefits by investing in property in the proximity of Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) in Devanahalli.

No approvals have been granted for any commercial establishment in the vicinity of the new airport for the last five months. This is a clear indication of the poor planning ahead of commencing the mega project.

Authorities knew since 1969 that Devanahalli was shaky on the water front, but still allowed the airport project. According to the Dynamic Ground Water Resource Study in March 2004, groundwater in the area has been over-exploited, said Deputy Director, Department of Mines and Geology, Srikantha Murthy.

"Groundwater is not a dependable source in the area and so we don’t advise usage of borewells, especially for huge commercial establishments," he said.

"Devanahalli was declared a ‘dark area’ in terms of water availability way back in 1969. KSPCB will not approve any projects until the developers indicate sustainable source of water in their plans," H C Sharatchandra, Chairman, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) said.

In keeping with that, no commercial establishment in BIA’s vicinity has been approved in five months. Moreover, any residential project of more than ground+1 floors has not been sanctioned recently. Many applications for residential and commercial projects are lying with different authorities.

"In the last 18 months, not more than three residential projects have got approvals," Sharatchandra told this website's News Paper.

BWSSB has already clarified it would not supply water to the area surrounding the airport. Rainwater harvesting, recycling and reuse of water cannot fulfil the water demands for huge establishments, confirmed KSPCB environmental officer C D Kumar.

"It depends on the local bodies to decide whether the area is really capable of development in a big way. Bangalore International Airport Area Planning Authority (BIAAPA), being the local body for the area, is duty-bound to ensure the availability of water before approving developmental projects," said Kumar.

However, officials of Banagalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA) attribute less commercial development in the area to less commercial land use.

"Out of around 792 sq km area under the jurisdiction of BIAAPA, very little is marked for commercial development. I think all the land marked under this is already allotted. Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) has acquired some land that they might give for commercial development," said an official.

"Many developers and hotels have acquired agricultural land; we will not approve of that. They can put their boards on the property but cannot use it for commercial development."

Despite this fragile situation, an BMRDA official actively involved in projects near the Airport, said there was no restriction on usage of borewells in the area. Interestingly, one of the bye-laws of BIAAPA clearly states: "Only in exceptional cases can borewell be provided in shopping complexes and residential apartments, subject to approval."

Meanwhile residential developers continue advertising for ‘BIAAPA approved residential sites for sale,’ claiming that houses will have 24 hour groundwater supply. BWSSB will start supplying water to these areas in a year’s time, they claim. And the hotel industry still remains hopeful of big opportunities in the area.

Mumbai has lowest FSI, says developer

The builder cartel has held prices to astronomical levels. The primary reason that the Mumbai lost its prime position of being a hi-tech city. 15 years go, SEEPZ used to be the center of all software exports. Thanks to the high land prices, everyone has moved to the south with some in Pune. Mumbai has lost its sheen for high value work. It is a city where the middle class has been priced out to distant suburbs once inhabited by the lower middle class. The lower middle class have become poor. Sad state to say the least.

MUMBAI: Mumbai has the lowest Floor Space Index (FSI) of 1.33 against an all-India average of 2.5 to 3. The city needs an FSI of at least five to ease the shortage of housing, a leading developer said on Friday.

FSI denotes the amount of construction that can be done on a given piece of land.

In Bangalore the FSI is 3.25, in Gurgaon near Delhi, the FSI is between 2.5 and 4, Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry Vice-President Sunil Mantri told reporters

Interestingly, in Hyderabad or the entire state of Andhra Pradesh there is nothing like FSI and one is free to construct whatever one wants.

Mantri recalled that even in Mumbai, till the mid 1970s the FSI used to be 4. Nariman Point was given an FSI of 4. However, the state government started reducing the FSI gradually from the mid-1970s coinciding with the introduction of Urban Land Ceiling Act.

Mantri said Mumbai needs an FSI of 5 to ease the housing shortage. The argument that the city does not have infrastructure to meet the needs of the higher FSI is not valid, he added.

Infrastructure can be created by imposing charges for new development. The reason the FSI is not being increased is due to lack of political will, he said.

According to Mantri, higher FSI is an accepted norm globally. In Dubai, he said the FSI given works out to between 8 and 34, in Hong Kong, it is between 8 and 20. In Manhattan; New York, it is 30.