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Andhra builders up in arms after Jagan govt orders them to hand over 5% land for public housing

Realtors are expected to 'voluntarily' hand over 5% land in layouts (or matching cost) to Andhra govt. Officials ask if they 'can’t do this much for housing scheme for the poor'.

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Hyderabad: Builders in Andhra Pradesh are up in arms after the state government made it mandatory for owners and developers of private layouts to hand over 5 per cent of their land to the government, which will then use it for Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s housing scheme for the poor.

In a gazette notification issued Monday, the government said owners/developers have to hand over the land “to the concerned District Collector” and that the “5 per cent additional land reserved will be utilised for the YSR Jagananna housing scheme for the poor”.

The notification also laid out various other options. If the owner/developer cannot hand over the land from the current layout, they can either hand over the same amount of land from within a three-kilometre range, or pay the basic value of the 5 per cent of land to the Development Authority. For areas not covered by the Development Authority, the payment should be made to the Urban Local Body (ULB).

The notification doesn’t mention any form of compensation for realtors. A senior government official, on condition of anonymity, told ThePrint that realtors were expected to “voluntarily” hand over property or money.

Unsurprisingly, several realtors are speaking out against the move. “Layouts are all very expensive lands. How can the government take such a decision? I don’t even think they consulted any of the private relators before passing this order,” Muralidhar Reddy from CMR Builders told ThePrint.

Y. Srilakshmi, special chief secretary, Municipal and Urban Development Department, however, said the plan had been in the works for a while. “The notification has come out now but the Cabinet resolution was taken almost a month ago — it took time for the entire process,” she told ThePrint.

Also Read: Jagan govt withdraws laws aiming to set up 3 Andhra capitals, promises ‘better’ version

A pre-poll promise

Free housing for the economically weaker sections was one of Jagan’s pre-poll promises ahead of the 2019 assembly elections. Jagan had then announced that he would undertake nine flagship welfare schemes — termed “Navaratnalu” (nine gems) — including monetary assistance to farmers, cash incentives to send children to school, and increased pensions for senior citizens.

Among these, the “Pedalandariki Illu” or housing for the poor scheme, was launched in December last year. The state government said there were 30.75 lakh beneficiaries, out of which about 28 lakh houses would be included in 17,000 YSR Jagananna layouts and another 2 lakh or so would be Township and Infrastructure Development Corporation (TIDCO) flats. The estimated cost of the scheme is around Rs 50,940 crore.

The chief minister, at that time, had also instructed that construction for phase one (15.5 lakh houses) should be completed by June 2022. Earlier this year, Jagan said that around 31 lakh house sites had already been distributed.

Realtors complain, say ‘losses’ will trickle down  

The government’s latest move has vexed several private realtors in Andhra Pradesh. According to them, layout owners will suffer a loss, and ultimately “customers” may suffer.

B. Srinivas, president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developer’s Associations (CREDAI) for Visakhapatnam, pointed out how several builders might try to compensate for the 5 per cent land loss by charging customers more.

“How will any builder be okay to let go of their land or incur this loss? They will ultimately chalk out a way to compensate for it somehow and an end-user will be most impacted. The industry is opposing this sudden order,” Srinivas said.

Muralidhar Reddy of CMR builders added that the notification offered “no clarity” on how the plan would be implemented. He also said that mixing free government housing with other dwellings in an “expensive” private layout may cause customer backlash.

“We don’t know if customers will be okay with investing or staying in layouts which also have government-allotted houses. I am not being discriminatory here, I am just trying to highlight customer mentality. If someone is paying crores for a flat, they want all lavish amenities,” Muralidhar Reddy said.

A senior government official, who wished to remain anonymous, told ThePrint that the basic value of 5 per cent of land will be similar to the amount at which the land was registered. He said that realtors should display some largesse instead of complaining.

“What loss will they incur? Who lays roads, gives them drainage and power supply? Can’t they do this much for a housing scheme for the poor? We will also make sure that other customers do not face inconvenience,” the official said.

(Edited by Asavari Singh)

Also Read: This is how Jagan Reddy has turned into a political juggernaut in Andhra


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