For Non-Resident Indians, using RTI just got easier

Ireo Skyon, Gurgaon

Ireo Skyon, Gurgaon

Vishal Kudchadkar, an RTI activist in Los Angeles, today became one of the first Indians living abroad to use a new system put in place by the government to make it easier for Indians living abroad to file Right to Information or RTI applications.

Today, the Department of Posts and Telegraph finally launched the online system, which allows Indians living abroad to directly purchase Electronic-Indian Postal Orders (E-IPO) on the Internet. Postal Orders are required as payment accompanying each RTI query.

For Non-Resident Indians, using RTI just got easier

Activist Lokesh Batra campaigned to make it easier for NRIs to file RTI queries

Vishal used the system to do just that — to purchase an E-IPO to file an RTI with the Indian government from his home in LA.

Till now, Indians living abroad had a difficult time paying Rs. 10 fee required with each RTI application as it was difficult to purchase Indian Postal Orders (IPO) or even a demand draft in rupees. Now, anyone living abroad can do that by logging onto the Department of Posts Web site here and clicking on the ePost Office link.

After completing a one-time registration, RTI applicants abroad can use their credit or debit cards to purchase an E-IPO. The site will generate a unique E-IPO number after each purchase, which the applicants can take a print out of and quote in their RTI application.

Retired Commodore Lokesh Batra, an RTI activist who has been one of the principal campaigners behind the move in India says, “It has been a long-standing dream for millions of Indians abroad to use this great transparency tool. The E-IPO will allow them to now enjoy the same rights as those living in the country.”

Read more: NDTV

Delhi NCR sees pick up in home sales in January, Mumbai home sales down

The National Capital Region saw a pick up in home sales in the month of January when compared to the same period last year. Home sales in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), though, still dropped in this period, says a report by real estate data analytics and research firm PropEquity.

The report also showed that new launches have dropped in key cities except Bangalore, which is performing well. In the NCR a total of 8,812 units were sold in January 2013, which is a 46% increase over the same period last year. However, new launches in the NCR dropped by 35% to 5,208 units compared to 8,041 units last year.

“This revival in the NCR is caused by higher sales velocity in Greater Noida, Yamuna Expressway, Noida Extension and Faridabad,” says Samir Jasuja, Chief executive officer of PropEquity.

Last year, Greater Noida, Yamuna Expressway and Noida Extension saw sales of only 694 units in the month of January. Now, the clearing up land acquisition issues and the availability of highly affordable units available on Yamuna Expressway and in Noida Extension have pushed this number up to 3,998 units in January 2013. New launches too have improved in this area by 18%.

Read more: The Economic Times

Service Tax on Luxury Housing

There are changes in the Service Tax Act that will lead to an increase in the cost of housing. The government has planned to reduce the abatement rates for luxury apartments. In the Budget provisions for 2013-14, the rate of abatement on 2000 sqft plus apartments or houses costing Rs 1 crore and more has been reduced by five percent from 75 percent to 70 percent. This translates into an increase in service tax outflow. The net increase will be up to 0.8 percent.

Real estate developers who were paying 12.5 percent service tax on 25 percent of the value will now have to pay for 30 percent of the value. The effective service tax rate for developers will increase by 62 basis points to 3.70 percent of the property value. However, low cost housing is exempt from this move.

The rate of abatement or deduction is used in the calculation of service tax to be paid by developers. The reduction in abatement will result in higher input cost that will be considered for calculation of service tax. Lower the abatement, higher is the liability of service tax.

Read more: The Times of India

L&T Construction bags Rs 2,080 crore contracts

L&T Construction today said it has bagged orders worth Rs 2,080 crore across various business segments during February and March.

The buildings and factories division has secured orders worth Rs 1,385 crore for the construction of residential towers in cities of North India, the company said in a statement issued here.

Its power transmission and distribution segment has bagged new orders worth Rs 585 crore.

This includes those for electrical and mechanical work for seven underground stations and associated tunnel sections of North-South and East-West corridors of Bangalore Metrorail Corporation Phase-I.

It will construct a 400 kV double circuit (quad) transmission line between Kurukshetra-Jalandhar and a 400 kV double circuit (triple) transmission line for at Kurukshetra for Power Grid Corporation.

The company has also bagged an order from Transmission Corporation of Andhra Pradesh for laying a 220 kV underground cable between Malkaram and Ghanapur substation to Moulali substation.

Further, L&T Construction has secured additional orders worth Rs 110 crore from various ongoing projects across water and solar and infrastructure segments, it said.

SEZ

Blackstone invests Rs.450 cr in Pune SEZ

US-based private equity firm Blackstone Group LP has invested Rs.450 crore in Eon Free Zone, a special economic zone (SEZ) developed by Pune-based real estate company Panchshil Realty, in return for a 50% stake in the project, according to two persons familiar with the development.

Eon Free Zone, India’s first notified information technology (IT) SEZ, spans 4.5 million sq. ft and was jointly developed by Panchshil and Ireo Management Pvt. Ltd, a private equity (PE) fund.

“In 2012, Panchshil Realty acquired the 50% stake held by Ireo Management in Eon for Rs.30 crore. This stake has now been sold to Blackstone,” said one of the two persons cited above, both of whom didn’t want to be identified. The rental value of the project is Rs.40 per sq. ft, per month, the person said.

Panchshil, according to the developer’s website, has investors such as Morgan Stanley and Xander Group Inc. and has developed over 12 million square feet of real estate. It is in the process of developing over 21 million sq. ft of corporate parks, SEZs, hotels and villas, the website states.

“Blackstone is strengthening its core assets and it is a good deal for them. Eon Free Zone is a high spec (premium) building,” said Shobhit Agarwal, managing director, capital markets, at property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle India.

Read more: Mint

Commercial Real Estate

Emerging financial capital of India attracting office occupiers

It has been whispered in the real estate circle for quite some time, something that made the Delhi-NCR developers of office space smile and their Mumbai counterparts worried. The MNCs and corporates looking forward to set up their offices in India, were wondering whether to go with the conventional wisdom of opting for the financial market of India or innovate with the new emerging financial centres in Delhi-NCR in general and Gurgaon in particular. Now the latest report of Knight Frank India has put this speculation to rest.

NCR is the biggest market in the country with nearly 88 mn sq ft of office space under operation. Vacancy levels range between 20-25 per cent across various micromarkets in the NCR. Most of the

office supply has come up in the peripheral business districts of Gurgaon, Noida, Greater Noida and the secondary business districts of Saket and Jasola.

The NCR is expected to witness new office space completions to the tune of 45 mn sq ft in the coming three years. PBD-Gurgaon is one of the most sought after destinations in the NCR, contributing nearly 43 per cent of this supply. Noida Expressway in particular, witnessed a lot of activity, both, in terms of new office supply and absorption in 2012.

Good connectivity, planned infrastructure and ample affordable housing options for employees, are some of the key contributing factors to the growing commercial developments in this location.

Read more: The Times of India

Policy

DDA meet today on land pool policy

The land pooling policy, which envisages voluntary assembly of land by owners, and a policy pertaining to development control norms for new farmhouses in the city is expected to be tabled before the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for clearance on Friday.

This unscheduled meeting, to be held in the L-G’s office, has been called to ensure that these major policies, which could change development patterns in Delhi, get clearance before the Assembly polls scheduled for later this year, sources said.

The land pooling policy was tabled before the Authority on March 5, also but was not passed as several members wanted more time to study it. It was supposed to come up for review and approval in April. “The land pooling model envisages voluntary assembly of land by owners and its transfer to DDA, which returns a specific share of of the transferred land to the owners with rights to develop it for various urban uses,” an official said.

Read more: Indian Express

Retail

Retail Spaces in Demand

With FDI in retail now here, the realty sector can cater to the demand from this exclusive retail segment. The need for mall spaces and large-format high street shops will see an increased demand in specific locations across the city. “FDI in retail will be a powerful vehicle in bringing the retail sector on the trajectory of the much-needed growth. This will have a positive spill-over on real estate as well. With multi-brand retailers entering the market, retail space will witness renewed demand and uptake along with improved investor confidence in the sector,” explains Sachin Sandhir, Managing Director, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – South Asia.

In spite of the approval given to FDI in multi-brand retail, MNCs adopted a wait-andwatch approach, with no major investment announcements in the space, since the norm was relaxed late 2012. “However, this is expected to give a fillip to retail activity gradually, as more players announce their entry strategy. In the mid-term, prime rents are also expected to witness some appreciation as both domestic and international brands continue in an expansion mode, though tempered by the difficulties presented by the prevailing economic conditions including the high inflation rate and lower economic growth,” explains Satish B N, Co-head – ODM, DTZ India. “In 2013, we expect property-specific and location-specific factors to influence prices (including limited new supply in certain sub-markets), across several cities, in spite of retailers continuing their portfolio rationalisation,” adds Satish.

Read more: The Times of India

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