Friday, February 12, 2010

Thackarey vs SRK vs Thackarey

Thousands of articles have been written about the issues surrounding the movie 'My name is Khan'. Hundreds of celebrities have voiced their opinion on it. Tens of politicians have expressed their support for SRK and the Shiv Sena stands isolated on the issue with no one expressing support apart from their own clan.

However as this issue dies down with the Sena having tactfully withdrawing the campaign it has Sena achieved its goal. The very fact of the Chief Minister having to summon all policemen to duty prior to release of the movie proves that the congress is very fearful of the Sena and its ability to disrupt things at will.

I remember the days when I was growing up in Mumbai in the 80s and early 90's, the Shiv Sena had a history of muscle power and citizens used to go to the Shaka pramukh to solve their problems instead of the police. When they won the elections in 1995, the Sena realized that they couldn't continue their rowdy behavior against the ruling government since they were now the party in power.

I now believe that Sena is on its way to those bygone days Raj and Uddhav are leading the aggressive charge in the name of the Marathi Manoos.

I would like to quickly point out that while I detest the tactics of the Raj and Uddhav I find that Congress and the NCP are equally incompetent to handle issues dealing with the ethos of Maharashtra and the Marathi people.

Politics has turned into a game where the party in power is a broker for grabbing land and handling out contracts at a fee. There is no attempt made by the government to 'govern' or take a stand on the 'right' side. This pattern repeats itself at every level, whether it state, central or the city.

We see this is action in the rampant inflation in India where Mr Pawar blames the sweet tooth of citizens for the doubling of prices of sugar. What about Onion prices, maybe Indians like to shed tears more often while the peel more onions then the citizens of other countries.

We now will have the IPL coming up and the tamasha of cricket and movies will drive the news flow. The SRK issue will be forgotten and delirious fans will be rooting for Tendulkar and Sehwag as SRK and Shilpa Shetty egg them along.

India is country of short memories. We have forgotten the deluge which killed thousands in Mumbai in 2005. We've dont remember what happened in the Tsunami in Chennai, the 26/11 attack in Mumbai and the recent floods in AP/Karnataka which almost sunk the famous Raghavendra Swami mutt in Mantralaya and we will soon forget the Pune blasts of Feb 2010.

Jai Ho

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mumbai builders hit sand trap

Business Standard reports

Construction in Mumbai has come to a near halt due to a serious shortage of sand, the most essential component. Ready-mix concrete production units in and around the city have also closed temporarily for want of sand.

A revenue department official said against 4,500 sand spots across the state, only 1,300 which had been cleared by the respective gram panchayats are available for auction. The government proposes to increase the royalty rate to Rs 200 per brass from the next financial year from the present Rs 100 per brass.

This is because the Maharashtra government has made it mandatory for the area’s gram pachayat to approve any sand auction.

As a result against a daily sand demand of 600-1,000 trucks, hardly three to 10 trucks are now coming into the city and that, too, from neighbouring Gujarat. Sand prices, earlier Rs 2,500 per truck of 2.5 brass (1 brass is equal to 100 cubic feet of sand), have surged to Rs 12,000 per truck.

If the shortage continues, says the the realty and construction industry, construction cost will surge and projects will be delayed.

A leading builder and developer, who did not want to be quoted, told Business Standard, “The licences used to be extended every year. There was no monopoly, as any person could buy from any of the sand dredging villagers and from various village,s depending on their quality, quantity and price. The royalty for the dredging used to be collected by the revenue department, for the extent of sand dredged. Local villagers were granted dredging licences, under which they used to dredge and sell the sand to any supplier in bulk.”

He said an average building of 14 floors with two wings, of 100,000 sq ft, requires 2,500 trucks of sand for just the civil work.

Dharmesh Jain, chairman and managing director of the Nirmal Group and vice-president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association, confirmed the shortage had brought realty development in the city to a standstill. So did Pravin Doshi, president of the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry. Navin Kothari of the Bhakti Group, a Mumbai based real-estate developer, said over 90 per cent of construction activity in Mumbai’s suburbs had been affected by the acute shortage for over a fortnight.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Now, even Mira road is unaffordable

Property rates have gone up by 20-25 % in the last six months

Savita Rijhwani (24) is all set to get married in the coming months -- the families are ready, shopping is on in full swing -- but one major hindrance, despite a budget of Rs 30 lakh, is a house. She was earlier looking for a two-bedroom hall kitchen flat in the Mumbai region up to Dahishar and Mira road, but now, with real estate prices moving northwards again, she has to look even beyond Mira Road.

During the recession, property rates in the city had come down by 20-35 per cent depending on the location.

However, in the last six months, the rates have escalated by 20-25 per cent. V Sharma started looking for a 1 BHK flat in Mira Road nearly six months ago and the owner was demanding Rs 13 lakh for the flat. Two months later, the prices shot up to Rs 15 lakh and currently the rate is nearly Rs 19 lakh. Sharma says he has to act now, "I cannot wait any longer as the prices are escalating and very soon the flat would become unaffordable I wish I had bought the flat last time itself."

Builders are a happy lot with the growing prices but are also careful and understand that if the rates reach an astronomical high, the market will fall soon. Abis Rizvi, Director, Rizvi builder, said, "The prices in areas like Bandra have gone up by 30 per cent in locations, the real estate market is back on its feet. But the prices has to be checked, if they rise above affordability then it won't be a good sign."

Vibhoo Mehra, a real estate consultant from western suburbs, claims prices have gone up in the last three months and have touched a peak.