Homes and gardens

Infrastructure is key

Namma Metro and ORR link are crucial to the expansion of the city and provision of proper infrastructure.

Namma Metro and ORR link are crucial to the expansion of the city and provision of proper infrastructure.   | Photo Credit: File photo

Affordable housing and Bengaluru development receive a boost in the State Budget presented recently. A look by Shrinivas Rao

The Karnataka Budget for 2020-21 held much significance, given the magnitude of the current state of affairs in the country’s economy. Expectations regarding the budget ran high with conjectures galore on how the government planned to provide succour in such testing times.

Presenting the budget in the Assembly on March 5, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa laid emphasis on several sectors, the primary focus understandably on agriculture. The budget also imparted considerable weightage to developing the infrastructure of the region, recognising the fact that it played a key role in attracting investments.

Bengaluru accounted for a better part of the slice sanctioned for infrastructure development. Taking cognisance of the fact that Bengaluru, the key driver of the State’s economy, required substantial support to keep the momentum running, particularly in the face of other cities such as Hyderabad providing stiff competition, the Chief Minister sanctioned ₹8,772 crore for 2020-21 towards the city’s development, keeping on board various departments such as Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board.

In a bid to improving the infrastructure of the city marred with congestion woes, the budget announced the extension of two new Metro rail corridors totalling 44 km A detailed project report for J.P. Nagar-Magadi Road and Outer Ring Road-West Metro corridors is awaited and both will be developed through a public-private partnership, the first time that such a model has been proposed for a Metro rail project in the city. When completed, the Outer Ring Road Metro project will connect Hebbal and J.P. Nagar, helping ease traffic bottlenecks on the ORR. The budget also announced that the extension of two Metro rail lines of a total length of 12.8 km, one till Kengeri on Mysuru Road and the other till Anjanapura township on Kanakapura Road, would be operational in 2020.

Bengaluru infrastructure development received added impetus with the budget sanctioning ₹500 crore for the long-pending suburban rail in 2020-21. The government also announced its decision to provide loan subsidy to BMTC to purchase more buses. A grant of ₹100 crore has been approved for BMTC to include 500 electric buses, while another 90 electric buses are being bought under the Smart City project, which will act as Metro feeder services.

The Chief Minister expressed hopes that measures such as these would help in improving infrastructure in Bengaluru, and the creation of more transit-based development and essential regulatory measures will lead to an increase in the utilisation of public transport from the current 48% to 73%.

Additionally, the budget announced that the Hassan-Mangaluru Rail Development Corporation will increase the capacity of rail line in the ghat region between Sakleshpur and Subrahmanya stations, which will, in turn, enhance the speed of commute between Bengaluru and Mangaluru.

Impetus to affordable housing

The real estate sector, that had anticipated major measures to be announced in the Union Budget, awaited expectantly the State budget’s announcements, as a host of issues ranging from liquidity crunch in the sector to GST rates, had slackened the sector’s growth in the residential segment in the past few years. In a positive development, the Chief Minister, to promote affordable housing in the region, announced that stamp duty on new flats or apartments costing less than ₹20 lakh would be reduced to 2% from 5%. This would be applicable from April 1, 2020, onwards. Moreover, the Kaveri software of the Stamps and Registration Department will be integrated with the e-Aasthi application of the State Urban Development Department while a Kaveri-2 software application will be developed in the new fiscal for registering immovable property documents.

Interestingly, Karnataka has been lagging significantly on the affordable housing front. It has been reported that out of the 3.55 lakh housing units approved under the PMAY since 2015 when the government started the project, only around 11,306 houses have been completed in 2019 in the State with fewer numbers delivered to the beneficiaries.

There have been appeals to lower the stamp duty for affordable housing in the past, and with the new reduced rates in place, the segment is expected to pick up pace, both on the developer and the buyer front.

The State budget also allocated considerable amounts to a host of other sectors, while continuing to focus on strengthening agriculture and rural economy, affordable housing and infrastructure development. It remains to be seen if the measures announced are implemented judiciously, bringing forth the vision that the government has.

(The author is CEO, APAC-Vestian)

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 3:42:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/infrastructure-is-key/article31119228.ece

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