In a move that may bring relief to developers, the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has decided to keep commercial offices and shops/malls out of the purview of the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Bill.

The Bill, in the making for about five years now, will only regulate the housing sector, said a senior ministry official. The current draft Bill mandates developers to keep aside about 70 per cent of the collected amount from buyers in a separate account. The ministry may lower the limit to 50 per cent or make it construction-linked.

It will be sent to the Union Cabinet for approval soon

Property developers will no longer be able to lure buyers with advertisements making tall claims and with blown-up pictures of fancy living spaces. In fact they will no longer be able to publicise their projects unless they have all the requisite permissions for construction, the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Bill-2011 has proposed. The Bill, which will be sent to the Union Cabinet for approval soon by the Union Ministry of Housing & Poverty Alleviation, has spelt out the specifics that will have to be followed by the construction industry.

Social Justice Minister Kumari Selja today said traditional urban planning principles in the form of master plans in India had proved exclusionary and caused fragmentation of societies, unequal opportunities and large dichotomies in the character of spaces.

Speaking at the inaugural session of an International Conference on Inclusive Urban Planning being organised here by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Selja called for inclusive cities and said at present the policies had led to some areas being well provided with excessive supply of infrastructure, spaces and amenities and the others being severely deprived with inadequate housing, sub-optimal and scarce infrastructure and urban decay.

The Union Ministry for Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) has identified sites for in situ rehabilitation of slums in the city. To be taken up on a pilot basis, the project will be initiated in slum clusters that have come up on Railway land and perilously close to the tracks in Zakhira and Choona Mandi.

A meeting of officials from HUPA and the Railway authorities was held recently to draw up a plan for clearing out the slums that have come up near the tracks. “There are about 9,000 hutments that have come up in these areas on Railway-owned land. The Ministry is now working out a plan to rehabilitate these people within one kilometre of their existing dwellings,” said an official who was part of the meeting.

Hit by slackening demand amid economic slowdown and high interest rates, the real estate sector has asked for infrastructure status for the housing sector in the Budget for 2013-14, which would help it avail of tax benefits and easier flow of credit. The housing ministry has said at least low-cost housing should get this status.

The National Real Estate Development Council (Naredco) said the sector should get infrastructure status and rental housing should be made more attractive to address the shortage of houses.

Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), on Wednesday, announced the launch of its public issue of tax-free bonds that aims to mop up around Rs.5,000 crore for lending to low-cost housing and urban infrastructure projects.

For retail investors, the bond issue carries a coupon rate of 8.01 per cent per annum for a 15-year maturity, and 7.84 per cent for 10 years. An investment of up to Rs.10 lakh would qualify under the retail category. “HUDCO has launched its tax-free bonds to raise up to Rs.5,000 crore for lending to housing and core infrastructure projects.

The Centre is working on a new scheme of affordable housing for the economically weaker sections in urban areas. The plan will be different from the UPA government's flagship JNNURM, one of the two sub-missions which the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation is anchoring.

Apart from housing, the new scheme would also have a component to provide a clutch of services such as skill development, water supply and drainage system to the urban poor.

The government is considering a proposal to allow debt restructuring for real estate projects that face delays due to sovereign clearances. It is also considering creating a sub-category of commercial real estate-housing to allow an extended repayment period to developers.

As per the current policy, any loan given to developers for non-infrastructure sectors turns into a non-performing asset (NPA) when the project gets delayed by more than six months after the date of commencement of commercial operations (DCCO) without any payment made to the lenders. The DCCO dates means the time when the developer actually commences construction after getting the necessary approvals. After this period, banks usually declare the loan as an NPA if repayments are not made for a period of 90 days.

JAIPUR: Despite receiving appreciation from the Central government for its flagship programme of affordable housing scheme, in ground reality, the state government is nowhere close to meeting its target.

Last week, Union ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation recommended Rajasthan's affordable housing policy to other states to address the problems of rising number of homeless persons and slums in the country.

This S R Hashim Committee report on urban poor submitted to UPA government in December 2012 set the criteria for identifying the poor living in urban areas for various government schemes.