Sunday, November 2, 2014

Is real estate bubble about to burst in Lucknow?

Nov 2, 2014Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

M Tariq Khan

LUCKNOW: Is it the beginning of the end of real estate boom in the state capital?
Property prices in Lucknow, which had shown an upward spiral in the past decade or so, have witnessed a downward trend, albeit a marginal one, if a report undertaken by the National Housing Bank (NHB) is to be believed.
“Six cities have shown decline in prices over the previous quarter with maximum fall observed in Chandigarh (-4.4%) followed by Meerut (-3.6 %), Delhi (-3%), Surat (-2.4%), Dehradun (-2.1 %) and Lucknow (-0.5%),” states the survey by NHB, a subsidiary of the RBI.
While ‘fly-by-night type’ builders reject the study, big players in the business grudgingly admit that it’s a wake up call for them.
“A combination of factors may have triggered this trend,” says a prominent member of the UP Real Estate Developers’ Council (UPREDCO).
The unabated demand-supply gap in the property market, especially in the residential sector, has led to an accumulation of unsold flats, he points out. Though nobody has the exact numbers, according to one estimate at least 10,000 flats are currently lying unsold in various group housing projects and schemes in the city.
“This is one reason why you saw no big launches this Diwali,” reveals the young partner of a prominent real estate firm, which has made a mark for itself in the upscale market, requesting anonymity.
This unsold inventory is also perhaps why the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA), the big daddy of them all in the property business, has not announced any new scheme or project in the past five years!
“We must have around 1,000 unsold dwelling units in our various schemes,” admits a senior official of the development agency. “The agency is finding it hard to get buyers for 100 flats in one of its most prestigious housing projects ‘Parijat’ on Faizabad Road,” he adds. Similar is the situation of its schemes on Kursi Road and elsewhere. Forget new launches, private developers have now decided to go slow on the projects already underway. “The downward demand-supply trend is slowly but surely taking a toll on our cash reserves,” bemoans the UPREDCO member.
What could further add a damper to this emerging slump in the market is demand by small builders to amend existing building by-laws and allow multiple dwelling units on small plots. Ghaziabad has done it already. Lucknow has been kept out of it by the state government so far though a similar proposal submitted by LDA has been awaiting government approval for over a couple of years now.
“The move (amendment) would have a cascading effect on the city’s real estate market and would further bring down prices of flats/apartments – a major reason why deep-pocketed developers are against it,” feels an expert in the real estate business.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Milk War

It’s an utterly, butterly ‘turf war’ as Amul enters UP
Hindustan Times  
Lucknow, October 29, 2014
First Published: 19:50 IST(29/10/2014) | Last Updated: 22:16 IST(29/10/2014)
Uttar Pradesh is all set to witness a ‘milk war’ with the state’s homegrown dairy leader Parag getting ready to take on the Gujarat-based giant Amul.
The Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd, which manages the Amul brand of products, will set up four modern milk processing plants following a personal invite by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
The state brand Parag is also run by a cooperative, the Pradesh Cooperative Dairy Federation.
A senior official in the state dairy development department said that Uttar Pradesh has achieved its potential “despite being the biggest producer of milk in the country and home to the largest number of cattle”.
Parag is expected to face stiff competition as it produces similar products like Amul –packed liquid milk daily, milk powder, ghee, butter, curd and ice cream.
However, an official of the state cooperative said Parag was ready for the challenge.
“You will see the changes soon. We have drawn up an action plan that we are all set to roll out once it receives the nod of the state cabinet within a fortnight or so,” said the official.
Already a household name in cities, Parag has decided to expand, diversify and channelise into other areas with its own ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ array of new products.
The cooperative has drawn up a Rs. 100-crore modernisation plan including revamping existing dairy plants in Meerut and Varanasi and enhancing production capacity.
Amul, on the other hand, will set up four plants in Kanpur, Varansi and Saifai besides Lucknow.
The state government hopes that lakhs of cattle owners would reap direct benefit from these projects which will also provide direct and indirect employment to many others.
It is estimated that each milk product plant will be set up with around Rs. 150 crore and in addition to indirect employment, 20,000 new jobs will be created directly

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Jaya convicted in DA case - what about Mayawati and Mulayam?


M Tariq Khan
“Laws are like cobwebs, they may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.”―Jonathan Swift.
Nothing perhaps more aptly sums up the general perception among the people over premiere investigation agency’s move to put a lid on the country’s two most politically monitored investigations of disproportionate assets charges against Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati.  The cases, say political observers, were born out of politics and have been shut for the same reasons.
Not surprising given that the probe agency’s approach in such DA cases against politicians has been to rely on arithmetic rather than conduct genuine investigation. CBI’s clean chit to Mulayam and his son Akhilesh Yadav after initially making out a case against the two seems to be a calculated move of this mathematics.
“The manner in which the CBI has done a turn-around in cases against Mulayam and Mayawati has dented its image and credibility beyond repair,” says advocate BK Singh, who once represented petitioner Vishwanath Chaturvedi on whose PIL the Supreme Court had ordered inquiry against Mulayam in 2007.
Chaturvedi, who has filed a review before the SC seeking clarification of its December 2012 order dropping proceedings against Akhilesh’s wife Dimple in the DA case, is equally vehement in his reaction. “They (CBI) took over five years to establish a prima facie case but just five months to reach the conclusion that they had got their arithmetic wrong initially,” he points out.
In its closure report, the investigating agency says “a large number of advances were earlier shown as assets as well as expenditure, leading to double accounting, which now stand corrected.”    
“The explanation is ridiculous.  Who are we dealing with here: sleuths of a crack investigation agency or a bunch of incompetent accountants, who carried out back of the envelope calculations on Yadav family’s assets,” sneers Chaturvedi.  
Sure enough, the investigating agency never seems to have done any serious investigation of its own in the case except relying on property documents provided by the petitioner. “They took sale deed copies of the properties from me but never bothered even once to record my statement also in the case,” says BK Singh. In fact, Singh had to move the Allahabad High Court when the then deputy inspector general (stamp and registration) OP Singh Yadav refused to provide him sale deed copies of the properties purchased by Yadav. He got them only after Justice Pradeep Kant directed the registration authorities to furnish the desired information to the petitioner on September 5, 2005. “Under section 91 of the Registration Act 1908, a person has the right to inspect and obtain a copy of property deeds on payment of a fee,” informs Singh.    


The posh Vikramaditya Marg, once famous for its five sprawling government bungalows (Panch Bangalia) is today an avenue dominated by the Samajwadi Party much the same way as Mall Avenue, another upmarket boulevard, occupied by arch political rival BSP. The turf tussle between the parties for acquiring properties on these two VVIP stretches of Lucknow began in 1993 came to an end with the two buying or occupying half-a-dozen prime bungalows each by 2012. 


Year 2005 saw the Yadav family embarking on a property buying spree like never before. The commercial building on the prime Mahatma Gandhi Marg and the three sprawling bungalows on Vikramaditya Marg were all purchased in just four months time from June 20 to September 5, 2005.  
This correspondent was greeted by Raj Kumar Yadav, the caretaker, who resides in bungalow number 1-A Vikramaditya Marg and looks after other properties of the Yadavs in the area. “See that boundary wall of Awadh Girls Degree College in the distant, all the land till there and beyond it is owned by the (Yadav) ‘parivar’,” he tells rather proudly.
Adept in politics, the senior Yadav and his two sons, not to mention the daughter in-law, showed that they possessed remarkable skills in striking bargains and pulling off land deals too. Sample this: In a money-spinner, both Akhilesh and Prateek managed to sell off their farm land on the outskirts of Lucknow (village Kamta in Ismailganj on Faizabad Road) to a little-known Moradabad-based Liza Builder netting Rs 5 crore in 2005. “They sold this land at approximately Rs 925 per square feet and utilized the money to purchase prime real estate in upmarket MG and VD Marg at roughly Rs 400 per square feet. If that puts a question mark over these transactions, so be it,” reveals Mohd Idrees, a real estate agent in Ismailganj.  , when he
Property documents gleaned by HT show that Prateek sold his one-bigha plot, (khasra number 283 in village Kamta) he had bought on December 27, 1999, from Rajesh Bhojwani and Ranvir Singh,. to Surendra Singh Bindra of Liza Builders, Moradabad on October 7, 2005. The deed was worth Rs 2.5 crore in which Rs 1 crore was paid as advance and a stamp duty worth Rs 10 lakh. The same day, Akhilesh too sold his plot measuring over a bigha to Liza Builders for Rs 2.5 crore, with Rs 10 lakh paid as stamp duty and Rs 1.25 crore as advance (bayana).
From just three bighas of land in 1993, Mulayam  in his affidavit before the Supreme Court in 2006, admitted to purchase of some 18 properties and “agricultural lands” in the State. He, however, contested their total worth, saying even a calculation of the value of all properties mentioned by the petitioner would only come to Rs 9 crore and not several hundred crore as alleged by petitioner Chaturvedi.

 The Realty Trail: Acquisitions V/S Accusations


Address: Commercial building at 31/93 Mahatma Gandhi Marg

Owners: Akhilesh and Dimple Yadav.

Total Area: 10,000 square feet

Declared Value:  In her 2013 affidavit before the EC, Dimple has declared her      share as Rs 67,50,000. Taking Akhilesh’s share also as equal, the property’s value would be Rs 1.35 crore. The couple bought this building in 2005 for Rs 37 lakh and it now houses Royal Bank of Scotland..
      Estimated Market Value: Rs 10-15 crore

Address: 8 C (also known as 1-A Vikramaditya Marg)
 Owners: Dimple and Akhilesh Yadav
Total area: 23,872 square feet.
Declared Value:  Rs 83, 27,288 lakhs (Akhilesh Rs 41,63,644 and Dimple Rs 41,63,,644). Dimple bought it for Rs 35 lakh on January 7, 2005 from Ujwala Ram Nath, a resident of 32-A Friends Colony, New Delhi.
Estimated Market Value : Rs 8-10 crore
According to the sale deed, the 23,872-square-feet property, referred to as Khasra number 8C, was embroiled in litigation (a leased property that changed hands). The property papers state that the buyer also takes the responsibility of dealing with all the litigation and legal dispute related to the property.
The plot has an old two-storeyed bungalow built on an area of 6,951 square feet. Its construction value was assessed on Rs 4,500 per square meter, the circle rate fixed for 1st class construction. After 40 per cent depreciation on the value of constructed portion, the cost of the house was assessed at Rs 17,43, 660. The consideration for transferring of lease hold rights with a balance term of 23 years was put at 17,50,000. The total value of the property was assessed at Rs 34,93,660 against which Dimple paid Rs 35 lakh.

Address:  8 D (adjoining 1-A Vikramaditya Marg)
Owner: Mulayam Singh Yadav
Total area: 23,876 square feet.
Declared Value: The conversion of this land from nazul into freehold was done on June 20, 2005 by Mulayam Singh Yadav, resident of 19, Vikramaditya Marg, for an amount of Rs 40.61 lakh. The 24-page registry deed no. 5649/05 was signed between 6 and 7 pm at the residence of the then chief minister

Estimated Market Value: Rs 8-10 crore

Address: 8/2 Vikramaditya Marg
Owner: Prateek Yadav, son of Sadhna Yadav wife of Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Total Area: 14,158 square feet
Declared Value: Prateek bought this house for Rs 1.72 crore, with a stamp duty of Rs 17.2 lakh from one Sanjay Seth of Shalimar Builders on October 7, 2005

Estimated Market Value: Rs 7-8 crore


Address: 31/93 ka Ramana Dilkusha (Vikramaditya Marg)

Owner: Akhilesh Yadav

Total Area: 3333.33 square feet

Declared Value: Mulayam bought this property for Rs 14 lakh in 1999 the name of his first wife Malti Devi. After her death on May 23, 2003, the property was transferred to Akhilesh Yadav. The throwaway price  for the property is justified in the deed on the ground that the “market value of the land at the rate of Rs 3,700 per square metre comes to Rs 10,65,600. The market value of the construction at the rate of Rs 180 per square feet comes to Rs 1,44,000. As this construction is 50-years old and is of inferior quality, the market value of the land and construction is not over Rs 12,09,600, the sale consideration of Rs 10 lakh”. The deed also mentions that Yadavs already own property to the south of the plot sold.

Estimated Market Value: Rs 1 crore

Address: House 3-A/484, Vishwas Khand, Gomti Nagar

Owner: Sadhna Yadav wife of Mulayam Singh Yadav

Total area: 2150 square feet

Declared Value: 10,16,800

Estimated Market Value: Rs 1.25 crore 

Breather for Azam Khan in hate-speech

·                                 26 Sep 2014
·                                 Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
·                                 M Tariq Khan

HC relief to Azam in hate speech case, notice on office of profit 

LUCKNOW: In a relief to senior Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Thursday refused to accept a prayer for issuing directions to lodge an FIR against him over an alleged hate speech.
While refusing to issue a writ of ‘quo warranto’ (right to hold an office) against Azam, the court gave him and the state government six weeks’ time to respond whether, being a state cabinet minister, he (Khan) could simultaneously also hold the post of chancellor of Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University (an office of profit).
An office of profit means a position that brings to the person holding it some financial gain, or advantage, or benefit. It may be an office or place of profit if it carries some remuneration, financial advantage, benefit etc. The amount of such profit is immaterial.
A division bench of justice Devi Prasad Singh and justice Arvind Kumar Tripathi passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Raza Husain and others. The court observed that since averments related to office-of-profit made by the petitioners were not denied by the state government, notice was being issued to Khan as only he could file a response whether he was enjoying or not any facility from the state or the university.
The petitioners had also sought lodging of an FIR against Khan for an alleged hate speech by him against a cleric. But the bench rejected the plea on the ground that the petitioners had not approached appropriate forum (read police) in this connection before filing the petition.
On behalf of the state government, additional advocate general Bulbul Godiyal contended that the petition was not maintainable and that the writ of quo warranto could not be issued in the matter of an alleged hate speech.
The petitioners’ counsel Ashok Pande alleged that despite being a cabinet minister, Azam was holding the post of chancellor of Jauhar University, which is an office of profit and hence against the law.
Pande cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in Jaya Bachchan’s case, which later led to her (Bachchan’s) expulsion from the Rajya Sabha because she was also the chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council, deemed an office of profit.
He said the office of the chancellor of the university is an office created by the state and Khan has been appointed as chancellor by the state. In this capacity, he is entitled to use the office, telephone, vehicle, residence and other facilities attached with the office. He is also entitled to salary and allowances from the university.
The petitioners’ counsel pointed out that since he (Khan) was enjoying these facilities attached with the office, there was no doubt that the office of the chancellor of the university was an office of profit and till such time he was holding the post of the chancellor of the university, he was disqualified to be chosen as member of Parliament and member of state legislature.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

  • 16 Sep 2014
  • Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
  • M Tariq Khan ■

MD’s ‘indictment’ in Delhi fiasco puts LM RC in a fix

  • 9 Sep 2014
  • Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
  • M Tariq Khan ■

Centre’s proposed policy shift in funding may hit Metro

LUCKNOW: With the union urban development ministry seriously considering a policy shift to reduce the central government’s share in future metro rail projects, Lucknow Metro Rail may have to ultimately rely on its own resources to raise funds for the project.

The Narendra Modi government has so far pledged ` 50 crore against a total proposed financial assistance of ` 1,300 crore by way of centre’s equity for phase IA of the Lucknow Metro Rail project. Metro rail projects are usually a joint venture between the state and the centre and implemented on a 50:50 equity basis.
With more and more cities in the country opting for this modern high speed public transport, this 50% cost sharing is proving to be a big drain on MoUD coffers, restricting its capability to allocate funds for other development projects. “The issue was discussed at a recent meeting in New Delhi to evaluate Lucknow metro project by Public Investment Bureau (PIB),” revealed a source requesting anonymity.
“Besides Ahmedabad and Lucknow, they (MoUD) officials told us that they had as many as six other ongoing metro rail projects in the country with centre’s share of over ` 40,000 crore. Against this, the central government released a little over ` 5,000 crore under this head to the ministry for 2013-14 fiscal,” he said. And the situation is likely to worsen in future with the existing MoUD guidelines agreeing to bear half the cost of DPRs for metro rail projects for all cities with a population of over two million.
Keeping in mind the increasing liability of the ministry, he said, both union finance ministry and PIB experts were of the view that the existing 50% equity of the MoUD in metro rail ventures should be capped at 10%. He said though the PIB appraisal meeting was very positive, a final call on funding would be taken by the union cabinet when it took up the proposal.
With a construction cost of R 300 crore per kilometre, the cost of the 22.87-kilometre North-South corridor of Lucknow Metro Rail project from CCS airport to Munshi Pulia has been pegged at ` 6,880 crore. “Since we largely have overhead tracks on this corridor, the MoUD experts have suggested that we raise funds from property development by giving purchasable FAR and other incentives along the route,” said a Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) official.
As of now, he said, they had enough funds to commence service on an eight-kilometre priority section of the N-S corridor (from CCS Airport to Alambagh) by December 2016, as announced by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. LMRC’s financial outlay for the next two years is a little over ` 2,000 crore. Of this, it intends to get a financial assistance of ` 350 crore from the centre. “We have already issued work tender for ` 541 crore of civil work. A major expenditure would be incurred on procuring the rolling stocks (read coaches) for which we have already received loan offers from several foreign institutional lenders and banks,” he said.


The Narendra Modi government has so far pledged ` 50 crore against a total proposed financial assistance of ` 1,300 crore by way of centre’s equity for phase IA of the Lucknow Metro Rail project. Metro rail projects are usually a joint venture between the state and the centre and implemented on a 50:50 equity basis. With more and more cities in the country opting for this modern high speed public transport, this 50% cost sharing is proving to be a big drain on MoUD coffers, restricting its capability to allocate funds for other development projects. “The issue was discussed at a recent meeting in New Delhi to evaluate Lucknow metro project by Public Investment Bureau (PIB),” revealed a source requesting anonymity.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lucknow Metro rail logo is a style statement

The symbol represents the concept of ‘connectivity’, which the upcoming metro rail in Lucknow will bring about in the city.

8 Jan 2014
Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
M Tariq Khan

LUCKNOW: It’s as sleek, chic and contemporary as the service it represents – the metro rail. And these were the deciding factors that made the panel of experts choose the logo to represent the service that would revolutionise the way Lucknowites would commute. After all metro rail is not merely about providing a fast, efficient and modern mode of transport. It’s a catalyst for major lifestyle change.
Though the official unveiling ceremony is still round the corner, Hindustan Times brings to you an exclusive sneak preview of the emblem,themotif thatwouldmark Lucknow’s leap into the select cities that have metro rail service.
Short-listed from among 3,000 entries received in the contest, organised for suggesting a logo for Lucknow Metro Rail, this masterpiece has been designed by a brilliant, young graphic designer Pooja Yadav from the prestigious National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
While Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) officials are tight-lipped on the issue for obvious reasons, sources revealed to HT that the initial design had been tweaked and put through several changes under the watchful eyes of experts from Arts and Architecture College here.
“The beauty of this logo is that the letter ‘M’ (representing metro) can be seen as the crown on the head of the city’s most famous landmark -- the Rumi Darwaza,” points out an expert requesting anonymity. The design, according to him, is well structured, strong and highly dynamic.
“We have provided several colour options like red, blue, purple and green but the final decision on which colour is to be retained would be taken by the higher ups,” he said. According to the artiste herself, the symbol represents the concept of “Connectivity” which the upcoming metro rail in Lucknow will bring about in the city. “The criss-cross pattern not only depicts the journey with which residents will enjoy their clean and safe journey with metro but also how the whole city would be fully connected once the service rolls out,” she says.
The winner would get a cash prize of ` 20,000. The LMRC is also contemplating giving away some consolation prizes and certificates to the participants who made it to the last round.