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ARIEDA demands CM’s intervention

REAL ESTATE CRISIS

GUWAHATI, June 3: Real estate builders on Sunday demanded Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s intervention to tide over the unprecedented shortage as well unabated price rise of stone chips and sand in the State that has disrupted construction projects including the flagship Prime Minister Aawaas Yojana (PMAY).

Assam Real Estate and Infrastructure Developers’ Association (AREIDA) president PK Sharma told reporters here on Sunday morning that construction at many of its sites has come to a grinding halt since the crisis turned not only serious but unprecedented during the last one year.

“Delivery timelines and cost estimates of many projects have exceeded to such an extent that these can no longer be absorbed by promoters. In this situation, delay in the delivery of apartments and cost escalation cannot be avoided. The authorities have not been able to find any solution, and the crisis has continued without any solution in sight. Thus we are forced to demand intervention of the Chief Minister to solve the present crisis as it has also given a body blow to the Centre’s ambitious scheme to provide affordable housing for all by 2022,” Sharma said.

He said sand and stone chips, which used to cost Rs 1,100 and Rs 1,500 per cm a year ago, are now selling at Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,800 per cm respectively. The quantities available even at these inflated prices are grossly insufficient while a large number of projects remain stalled and workers are being laid off en masse. Such price escalation and project delay has already added a huge cost burden to home buyers, Sharma said. Prices of flats in Guwahati have increased by 30 per cent due to such development

Sharma, while asserting that the construction sector is the second largest employment generator after agriculture, said nearly four lakh workers are directly employed in the sector, which in turn supports another 16 lakh dependents.

“Around 50,000 construction workers work in and around Guwahati alone. It is amongst the largest contributors of revenue with the essential housing sector contributing as much as 38.29 per cent of the cost of a home towards various government levies and taxes. Out of this, the urban local bodies earn 4.43 per cent, the State government 23.94 per cent, and the Centre gets 9.92 per cent of the cost of a house as various taxes,” Sharma said, adding: “Therefore, the adverse impact on the economy is huge, and this necessitates most urgent and immediate measures.”

AREIDA had earlier requested the State Forest Department to ensure that the supply of construction material was not affected but no steps had been taken by the government to address the issue. Sharma said unless the Chief Minister intervenes and solves the issue, the real estate industry will collapse in near future.