Hyderabad sees 14% fall in overall crime rate

Though there was a 14% dip in the overall crime rate in the city in 2015, a marginal increase was recorded in robbery and road accident fatalities.

Briefing the media about the performance of the police in 2015, Hyderabad police commissioner M Mahender Reddy said 18,375 cases were registered till December 15, 2015 as against 21,285 last year.

"Last year, property worth Rs 45 crore was lost in various crimes while this year, the figure stood at Rs 26 crore, a 16% drop in burglaries, thefts and other similar crimes. Chain-snatching offences saw a 50% fall," the police chief said.

In 2014, 523 chain-snatching cases were registered, whereas in 2015 only 263 were reported. The percentage of snatching cases solved also rose from 68 to 71. The commissioner said initiatives like booking notorious offenders under the Preventive Detention (PD) Act and installation of CCTV cameras as part of the community policing initiative proved to be effective in controlling the crime rate.

The number of cases related to drug trafficking also came down from 26 to 16.

However, while the number of road accidents decreased slightly in 2015, the fatalities increased from 357 in 2014 to 365 in 2015 (till December 10).

Crime against women too increased marginally from 2,241 cases in 2014 to 2,244 cases this year. Though there was a slight drop in rape cases -- from 132 to 108 -- the harassment cases rose from 1,303 to 1,523. Also, the number of dowry deaths remained almost the same (23 in 2014 and 21 in 2015).

However, the police commissioner said, there was a sharp rise in the number of robberies. While there were 54 robberies in 2014, the figure for 2015 was 92. But he clarified that the increase was due to registration of chain-snatching offences as robbery cases.

"We have registered about 30 snatching offences as robbery cases, but stopped doing so subsequently after a court directive against such a practice," the commissioner said.

On the traffic enforcement front, the police chief said the fine collected from violators of various traffic rules increased from Rs 35.75 crore to Rs 36.97 crore due to initiatives like slapping of non-bailable warrants (NBWs) on those who ignore e-challans and suspension of driving licences in collaboration with the regional transport authority (RTA).

Though number of offenders imprisoned rose from 2,490 to 2,802, drink driving cases increased from 14,246 in 2014 to 14,913 this year.

Answering queries about the recent arrest of three city students in Nagpur, who wanted to join the Islamic State, Mahender Reddy said that they still believed counselling was the best option to handle such youngsters.

"We had counselled 17 youngsters who were found to be motivated towards the IS activities. Their family members were also counselled. The counselling was largely successful, but we were aware that there would be some exceptions. All the counselled youths are still under surveillance. It is due to the effectiveness of surveillance and counselling that the family members alerted the cops about the missing trio," the commissioner said.

The Crime Stats

Crime 2013 2014 2015

Murder for gain 14 7 4

Murder 108 117 96

Culpable Homicides 6 6 7

Dacoity 8 11 9

Robbery 47 54 92

Burglaries 659 760 628

Kidnapping 134 373 311

Rape 102 132 108

Dowry Death 32 23 21

Prez's Raj Bhavan visit: Traffic curbs today

Hyderabad police have imposed traffic restrictions on the Rashtrapati Nilayam, Bolarum-Raj Bhavan Road stretch on Tuesday night in view of President Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Raj Bhavan.

According to police, traffic curbs would be imposed between 7.30 pm and 8.30 pm on the Rashtrapathi Nilayam-Raj Bhavan Road stretch via Malla Reddy Nagar, Lothkunta `Y' Junction, MCEME Signal, Lal Bazaar `T' junction, Holy Family Church, MG Community Hall, Trimulgherry X Roads, RTA Office, Hanuman Temple, Karkhana police station, Vikrampuri, Secunderabad Club, NCC Directorate Crossroads, Tivoli X Roads, Plaza X Roads, CTO Flyover, Rasoolpura Junction, PNT flyover, Shyamlal Building, HPS, Begumpet Flyover, Greenlands, Rajiv Gandhi Statue, Yashoda Hospital, Villa Marie College, MMTS station and Raj Bhavan.

Traffic restrictions would again be impsoed late in the night in the same route when the President starts the return journey to the RP Nilayam from Raj Bhavan.

In view of the restrictions, traffic moving from AOC to Airtel office would be diverted at Laxmi Nagar towards Picket

Customers looking at Pune and Hyderabad as alternative to Bengaluru: Sushil Mantri

Bengaluru-based Mantri group recently raised funds for two residential projects in the city. Sushil Mantri, chairman of Mantri Group, tells Raghu Krishnan that some private equity firms have evinced interest in structured debt, as the firm expands into new commercial properties. Edited excerpts:

Have the Piramals invested in Mantri’s projects?

We have raised funds for residential projects and the Piramals have invested Rs 100 crore. The land acquisition is going on. Private equity players have also shown interest. However, it will take some time to fructify. Most of the deals are structured debt. We are expecting an equity structure and we expect it will take a year for the market. We have closed nine projects with Xanders.

Are you still a residential player?

Today, 75 per cent of sales come from residences, while 25 per cent is retail and commercial. Going forward, it will be 65 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively. Some of the properties are at approval stage. Real estate is a disciplined business, so temptations are high. If you are disciplined, chances of failure are very little.

How is the market?

There is opportunity in mid-budget segment homes - properties below Rs 1 crore. Then, there is enormous interest from non-resident Indians. This year was very good for office properties and Bengaluru has absorbed 14 million sq ft. We see similar demand next year. It is because there is huge job creation in Bengaluru. We’ll see a good amount of influx of people. Outsiders are coming for jobs and settling here.

Can the city handle such large migration?

It is high time the policy makers (in Karnataka) respect planning. The city is growing haphazardly because we have not had any planning. A good master plan should visualise for 30-40 years, in Hyderabad, when they did the 2005 master plan. There was a huge vision to build infrastructure. Bengaluru is still looking at 18-metre roads, whereas what is needed is 36-metre and 42-metre roads. In Hyderabad, there is no congestion because the roads are wider.

The 2015 city development plan (CDP) is still not out. It will take one or two years to implement. We are still building the city on the 2005 CDP, whereas it has grown thrice since then. In every city, the outskirts are better than the central business district (CBD). In Bengaluru, which is better? We have asked the government to include Credai (Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India) members in preparing  the plan.

The concern is there could be a conflict of interest...

Bengaluru’s development is thanks to developers. So many information technology (IT) parks have been built by developers. For example, I don’t think the government would have built the International Tech Park. If all the IT companies prefer to come to Bengaluru, it is not because of the government. It is because the developers have built office infrastructure meeting global standards. We are stakeholders of the city.

Are your commercial customers concerned about Bengaluru?

The traffic and water situation is bad. They are considering Pune and Hyderabad as an alternative. Bengaluru is also quite expensive. Average rental is Rs 60-70 per sq feet and Pune’s is Rs 40-45 per sq ft. The cost of establishment for employees also makes a difference. In Bengaluru, the average rent for a two-bedroom house is Rs 30,000; in Hyderabad, it is Rs 15,000-20,000.

When you do an apple-to-apple comparison, and the cost of establishment falls on the organisation.

Do you have projects in these cities? Are you planning expansion?

Besides Bengaluru, we want to be in Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune as well. These four cities have actual user base markets. As of now, we don’t want to enter Delhi and Mumbai, as these are investor and speculative markets. We have set up Mantri Primus, a concept for senior living for those who are above 55 years of age. It is for luxury living and the first project has started with good response. We want to grow this into a new vertical across cities.

AP proposes to build temporary secretariat

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu's proposal to build a temporary secretariat in Guntur district is a winwin strategy, government officials say.

 While government employees, who are not willing to relocate to Amaravati from Hyderabad, will be forced to shift there for now, the temporary structure proposed at Amaravati Township in Mangalagiri area, close to the capital city, will be sold or auctioned later.

 As the design for the permanent government complex in Uddandarayunipalem village in the capital city is being prepared, the temporary secretariat will be completed within six months that will cover an area of six lakh square feet at an estimated cost of Rs 180 crore.

 

The building can later be sold to companies for execution of projects in the capital city. "The rate of land in the surrounding areas is expected to rise after the construction begins," said an AP government official.

 

Prefab technology or precast technology will be used to complete the temporary complex in six months in place of the traditional construction methods that take more time. Pre-fabricated construction methods have several benefits like cost, time and labour sa vings. Such constructions are also of high quality.

Microsoft to help A.P. improve citizen services

 

Seeking to improve the use of Information and Communications Technology, drive digital inclusion and provide better citizen services, Andhra Pradesh government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft India during a breakfast meeting hosted by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu for technology giant CEO Satya Nadella at the former’s residence here on Monday.

According to the MoU, Microsoft India will provide technical knowledge to the A.P. government and support in building three proof-of-concept (PoC) solutions by applying Microsoft Azure Machine Learning and Advanced Visualization method in the fields of education, agriculture and eCitizen services.

The PoC solutions will be built and deployed to address specific problems within each of the fields to achieve better outcomes for the State. It would use the lab method for data gathering, analysis, predictive analysis and policy planning, according to an official release from the Chief Minister’s office.

Continuing its commitment to support the government’s initiatives for Cloud adoption and improve citizen services, Microsoft India will continue to engage and train the State government’s key IT executives on Microsoft technologies such as Cloud, Mobility and appropriate Microsoft Technology stack.

The company will also deliver an exclusive workshop to the government’s key administrative officers on improving productivity by using Microsoft technologies.

Centre for excellence

The meeting lasted 80 minutes, during which Mr. Nadella assured of total cooperation for the State government in utilisation of cloud data for improving citizen services. He also agreed to set up a Centre for Excellence in Visakhapatnam.

He promised to visit Anantapur district during his next visit. The technology provided by Microsoft would be utilised, among others, to check school dropouts, improve agricultural productivity and provide better citizen services.

Amaravati builders wait for brighter days

The real estate sector that was shining the brightest, riding high on the Amaravati wave, is witnessing a slowdown and the downturn is attributed to the fact that money circulation has come to a dead stop.

Huge investments made in this sector by people of not just Andhra Pradesh but also from Telangana and Karnataka are said to be locked in Thullur.

Sources indicate that a major part of the nearly Rs. 4,000 crore, paid to buy lands from farmers in the 29 villages of the capital region, has landed in the lockers of the local banks in Vijayawada region.

“Most farmers who do not have a clue about how to invest the enormous money they made by selling their farmlands, have opted to secure them in lockers for now. With wads of money locked inside lockers, circulation has come to a dead stop. Even private finance companies do not have money to lend,” says a realtor who is a member of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI).

The capital move had far-reaching implications and cost of lands in Vijayawada and its surrounding areas too skyrocketed.

“Though this region is known for its vast wealth and robust money transactions, we are witnessing a bizarre situation. Real estate is part of people’s regular planning here. Flipping assets at regular intervals has been an integral part of growing their money,” says an investor.

It is believed that the situation will ease when works on the projects comprising the master plan are grounded. Money circulation will resume improving the scenario manifold.

Cheer factors

Builders and land developers in the region, meanwhile, have a couple of reasons to cheer. The fast-approaching paddy harvest season and A.P. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s Durbar move in which about three lakh people are expected to shift from Hyderabad to Amaravati.

Enquiries for vacant flats have started pouring in for last 10 days. “This usually happens in the harvest time. People owning farmlands invest in property,” says R. V. Swamy, general secretary of the Vijayawada unit of the CREDAI. There are some 1500-2,000 ready-to-occupy flats lying vacant in and around Vijayawada city. The slump in the market had kept buyers at bay for the past many months.

“The 2,000-odd vacant flats in areas like Currency Nagar, Ramavarappadu, Kanuru, Poranki and the other side of the Vaaradhi can accommodate the NGOs shifting from Hyderabad,” says Mr. Swamy.

The CREDAI members have also submitted a list of vacant apartments, their location and their price to the Collector following a directive by the Chief Minister.

Nearly 40 mega projects envisaging construction of high rise buildings in city await clearance by the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA). The construction companies include LEPL, Manjeera Constructions, Jai Bheri Constructions, Mahalakshmi Ventures and Ramakrishna Ventures. Some of these buildings will have 15 and even 23 floors.

Prospects look up for real estate sector

the fantastic prices at recent land auction at Manikonda and Kokapet offer a whiff of hope for the real estate sector in the city after seven years of despair?

For the land parcels that went under the hammer, the Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (TSIIC) got a windfall with successful bids touching Rs. 29.28 crore per acre. Justifiably elated, the Chief Minister’s office released a statement recalling that such high bids were not made even during boom time.

After the real estate boom between 2004 and 2008, it has been a downhill slide with an occasional bump, which a leading builder described as a ‘topsy-turvy’ situation. While global recession took its toll, local factors such as the protracted agitation for separate Telangana State led to prospective buyers fleeing the market.

While the creation of separate State rekindled hopes about property matters that took a centre-stage again, the same did not happen.

Particularly from mid-2008 till 2014, construction activity almost came to a halt for several projects and realtors found it difficult to offload even completed inventory. “During the boom, the builders did not factor in the possibility of a downslide and were taken in by surprise. The result was incomplete structures waiting for completion and completed structures waiting for buyers,” concedes a builder.

A positive mood in the property market which has been building up over the last six months has now become more apparent, says D.S. Prasad, Director, Aparna Constructions. “In recent months, the commercial space absorption in Hyderabad has been higher than Bengaluru and this obviously will translate into demand for residential spaces too,” he says.

Anand Reddy, Executive Director, PBEL Developers, agrees and says the acceleration in property sales has slowly yet steadily been building up and the acceleration will be more conspicuous now. “Among other factors, the State government’s efforts in supporting the sector, the IT Ministry to bring in investment and employment opportunities are paying dividends,” he says.

The present trend could result in coming up of at least 1 crore sft of IT space, which offers possibility of creating employment for one lakh persons in the coming years. “This will mean a spurt in the demand for dwelling units,” Mr. Anand Reddy predicts.

The average annual consumption of housing units, of all kinds from apartments to villas, presently hovers around 24,000 units, those in the construction industry point out that though the present scenario has supply exceeding the demand, the situation will change dramatically in the next two years.

P. Prem Kumar of Doyens Constructions says things have started appearing more positive from macro level in the city and argues that it was bound to happen. “Despite everything, Hyderabad offers the most affordable pricing among all the metros of the country and the infrastructure here is unmatchable,” he explains.

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has reported a rise in revenues collected from various fees from construction activity and the registration department data too has shown an increased activity. Since January this year, property prices have also been on the rise, albeit marginally in most places, and more in places such as Miyapur and Gachibowli, where the prices have spurted from 5 per cent to 8 per cent than last year.

The Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (Credai) former chief, C. Sekhar Reddy, says unsold stocks that had piled up earlier were already cleared and the fresh stocks are finding new buyers. “There are no speculators in the field now and the sector is growing steadily, healthily and strongly,” he avers.

The acceleration in property sales has slowly, yet steadily, been building up and it will be more conspicuous now

Big realtors still hopeful

Property developers are divided in their opinion about Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan’s move to keep key policy rates unchanged.

While large ones such as DLF, Hiranandani and Brigade say this was expected and bigger rate cuts are in the offing, smaller real estate firms are disappointed.

“I think the governor is waiting for the end of the financial year to give one more dose. First, he was putting pressure on the government to reduce its fiscal deficit. Now, he is putting pressure on banks to set their books right,” said Rajeev Talwar, executive director at DLF, the country’s largest developer. He expects the policy rate to go down another 50 basis points (bps) by the end of the financial year.

Niranjan Hiranandani, managing director of Hiranandani Constructions, said Rajan waited not because of whether internal demand could sustain or not but because external signs are not clear. He, too, expects another 50-bp cut in rates, at the next policy review.

While there is disappointment among developers about banks not passing on the earlier rate cut benefits to borrowers, Hiranandani said he expected banks to do so in the next 30-60 days to home loan borrowers. However, he added, a cut in rates for corporate loans would take time.

“With the economy on an uptick and key legislations in the offing, growth is already reflecting in the automobile, consumer and manufacturing sectors. Another rate cut would have fuelled growth but there are multiple triggers lined up in the next 60 days to revive demand in the real estate and construction sector, specifically in Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad,” said Om Ahuja, chief executive, residential, Brigade Group.

Smaller developers are disappointed

"The industry was hoping for a marginal rate cut which was the need of the hour, even a small rate cut would have given a right signal about downward trend in interest rates and created an optimistic environment among buyers and encouraged the fence sitters to take a positive decision," said Rajesh Prajapati, MD, Prajapati Constructions, a Mumbai based developer in a note sent by the company.

Added Manju Yagnik, Vice Chairperson, Nahar Group, in a note: "The real estate sector was expecting a further rate cut at this stage which would have helped in improving market sentiments, bringing some respite to customers with home loans as well. Given the current property rates and stagnant market conditions a rate cut would have sent out a positive signal to home buyers and industry alike and would have given the much needed thrust to the realty sector. "

Removal of Double Taxation Can Boost Realty'

HYDERABAD: Making the process of issuing permissions easy and doing away with double taxation are the two major features which real estate bodies and builders associations want to be included in the new Real Estate Bill mooted by Telangana government for the development of Hyderabad realty.

 

The new Real Estate Bill, promised long back by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, has once again stirred a discussion among realtors in Hyderabad following KCR’s statement in a recent meeting with realtors  that the proposed bill, to be on the lines of TS-iPASS, would be brought in soon.

 

‘Easy-to-do’ business has become the buzzword all over the globe and KCR is very focused on making it applicable to the Hyderabad realty. The government is mulling over many options like online application process and self-certification for builders. “Though it is a continuous exercise to bring in world-class features in regulation of real estate sector here, initially the main demand from builders is to ensure that getting permissions for new constructions is simplified,” said C Shekar Reddy, past president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India.

 

Right now, a builder has to take permissions from more than 20 government departments if he has to come up with a new construction right from the time of acquiring land to completion of the project. The regulation process is so tedious that from the time of acquiring land to starting of work it is easily taking about six months’ time for a builder.

 

Today every state government is offering sops to attract investors. In this competitive environment if global real estate players have to enter and play key role in Hyderabad’s development, even we have to come up with policies which will attract them. TS-iPASS is getting good response and the need of the hour is to make permissions process easy as Hyderabad has good scope to attract national and internationally reputed realty firms, said P Dasharath Reddy, president of Telangana Real Estate Development Association.

 

Besides making issuance of permissions easy, realtors also want removal of double taxation. For instance, in the case of NALA tax or VAT, either the builder or buyer has to pay more than once for the same service.

Win-Win Situation for Home Buyers, Builders in 2016: Realtors

HYDERABAD: The year 2016 is expected to see a ‘win-win’ situation for both home buyers and builders in Hyderabad, opine realtors and real estate associations. As real estate scenario in the city picked up momentum this year, realtors expect that further progression will occur in 2016, thus leading to rise in home sales and creating a buzzing market. “There has been a revival of realty sector this year with both home sales and launches rising. While realty sector got back from brink this year, we expect it to regain its vibrancy next year. We are expecting a growth of about 20 percent in 2016,” said S Ram Reddy, president of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI), Hyderabad. For the sector troubled with various reasons for the past half decade, a 20 percent growth expectation is a positive sign.

But what makes real estate insiders come up with such a promising forecast? Already there is shortage of office space in Hyderabad now and more multinational companies are setting up their shops here. As a result more jobs will be created, more people from other areas will come to Hyderabad, leading to rise in home sales. Already there has been good activity in office space and we hope the same will be replicated in terms of residential segment, opined P Dasharath Reddy, president of Telangana Real Estate Developers Association (TREDA). Over the past year reputed companies of international fame including Google, ICICI bank, Amazon, Wipro, among others have scaled their operations in Hyderabad, thus creating enormous demand for office space. It is a natural consequence that demand for office space automatically leads to demand for homes. Besides government’s eagerness to cater to these companies by adopting ‘ease of doing business’ approach is expected to further help the cause of Hyderabad realty. Therefore real estate developer bodies are forecasting a tremendous rise in home sales and planning accordingly. “We are sure of rise in home sales in the coming year. However, instead of going for new launches immediately, we are urging our members to first clear existing inventory if any.