Real Estate And Corporate Social Responsibility

In India, we tend to look at CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) as a new concept. In fact, it is as old as the concept of business itself. It is only in the last fifty years or so that it has become a matter of social debate and public opinion. However, socially aware and responsible companies have been engaged in some form of CSR or the other for much longer than that.

India is a country in which companies have always been expected to give back to society. This principle is firmly rooted in our ancient history and dates back to the days of Chanakya – India’s very own ancient business guru.

Society in India is very symbiotic and inter-dependent, as opposed to the silo mentality often seen in the West. It is only during the days of the east India Company that an exploitative element was introduced to doing business in India. When the British left the country, they also left behind a twisted concept of profiteering and empire-building which we have never really lost.

Even so, many Indian companies are engaged in hands-on CSR activity which does not necessarily get spoken about, but is still very real. For instance, the social responsibility efforts of many real estate developers goes unnoticed simply because it is not highlighted as CSR at all.

Real estate is a very local business. In the first place, it takes place in localities and locations, with ‘location, location, location’ being the foremost mantra of what gives value to property.

However, there are no ‘new locations’ – only areas that have not been developed as yet. These areas are usually already inhabited. It is a logical but often overlooked fact that real estate development does indeed benefit the original dwellers in an area in many ways:

It provides immediate and future employment to locals in an area. Shops and other commercial establishments crop up around new residential buildings, and these are invariably run by locals.

The infrastructure improves, raising property values and benefiting the original land and property owners of the area. Doctors and health care facilities arrive. The area is connected to municipal water and electricity supply. These factors have a direct bearing on the quality of life of the local inhabitants.

These are direct benefits, but of course they do not originate from a developer’s sense of social responsibility. When CSR does occur in context with actual real estate development, it must essentially be directed at those who contribute to the process development.

This is a maxim that Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd believes in very firmly. For example, we provide schooling to the children of the construction workers at all our sites. We have tied up with ‘Door Step School‘ – an NGO which addresses the need to educate the marginalized sections of society.

Door Step SchoolDoor Step School provides education and support to the often-forgotten children of pavement dwellers, slum dwellers, construction site families and many other underprivileged families.

Many of these children are not enrolled in schools and have limited access to books and places to study. Also, many children drop out of school to work or care for younger children. With neither support nor resources at home, such children tend to have no opportunities for education.

Door Step School was established in Mumbai in 1988 and later expanded to Pune in 1992. Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd saw the potential of contributing positively to the lives of the construction workers it employs and has been working together with Door Step School ever since.

In keeping with this program, AEHL provides school structures and meals to the children of construction workers, so that their education can take place free of cost even as their parents earn a living at our sites.

Construction worker's children studying on siteWe are very proud of the fact that many of these children have gone on to higher education, thereby enabling their families to achieve higher standards of living.

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Pune Builders Inspired By Planned Growth In Gujarat

Kishor Pate 2Kishor Pate, Director – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.

MBVA Mission To Gujarat – An Inspiration And Vision For The Future Of Pune And Maharashtra

The MBVA (Marathi Bandhkam Vyavsayik Association) is a body of prominent local real estate developers in Pune that has a membership of over 250, and has become a vital knowledge and resource-sharing platform for all of them.

MBVA has been a boon to the booming construction industry in Pune, providing its members a means to adopt standardized industry practices and technologies. MBVA also serves the function on giving its members a forum from which they can voice their issues to the relevant authorities.

Another major function of this body is to conduct study tours for the members so that they can obtain knowledge of innovative industry practices. There are a number of ground-breaking systems being used elsewhere in the country, and of course abroad.

Since the Pune real estate industry caters to a rich cross-section of the global market, there is a huge interest in projects which follow international construction norms. As such, there is a lot to be learned from countries like China, Israel and many of the Western countries.

The MBVA has, in fact, visited Dubai, South Africa, China and Germany in the recent past so that its members can see such progressive trends and technologies being implemented first-hand. However, one of the most instructional tours we have had so far was much closer home – to neighbouring Gujarat.

Members of the MBVA had the privilege of interacting with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and learning from him about the success strategies being used to drive real estate and infrastructure planning and development in this progressive state.

Rajendra-Pate-Narendra-ModiUnder his administration, Gujarat has seen the arrival of the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) and the finalization of the world’s largest artificial fresh water lake – a Rs. 100,000 crore undertaking at Kalpsar which will address the state’s water requirements for an entire century to come.

The Sabarmati Riverfront Development project, the Janmarg Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS), GIFT City, Kids City and the ultra-modern Metro Rail project have all taken shape under the current administration.

The State Government has provided an extremely conducive environment for overall development. This, coupled with the availability of skilled manpower, has resulted in massive external investments into the state and made Gujarat a prime SEZ and industrial destination.

There is a great deal of investor faith for Gujarat, since the economy there is very evidently driven by policy rather than by people. Also, the development mantra in this state is based on Skills, Scale and Speed – a formula which has worked exceedingly well for its economy.

We visited a number of large projects in Gujarat’s major cities. At every point, we were impressed by the intelligent urban development policies that drive growth in this state.

MVBA Visits GujaratThere is perfect transparency and governance being employed in all aspects of urban and rural planning, resulting in a win-win situation for land-owners, real estate developers, property buyers as well as the Government. Around Rs. 7000 crores worth of urban projects are being implemented, resulting in extremely modern civic amenities and infrastructure throughout the state.

We came away from the experience with a distinct impression that other states should also consider adopting Gujarat’s development policies. For example, the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) has introduced a number of infrastructure reforms which do not require massive investment by the Government.

The model that AUDA follows is to acquire large pockets of land, providing the required infrastructure to make the areas viable for real estate development, and then giving back a part of this developed land to the owners. The land has naturally acquired a much higher value, so they are definitely winners. AUDA retains the remaining part for further development of its own projects.

Historically, Gujarat has a highly defined entrepreneurial spirit and has provided India with some of its most outstanding business icons. There is no doubt that Gujarat’s State Government is one of the most progressive and proactive in India.

There is a massive effort going on to provide modern infrastructure. In fact, Gujarat is probably the only Indian state that focuses on providing infrastructure first and then implementing planned real estate development in the newly enabled areas.

Following our visit, to Gujarat, there has been a lot of discussion and debate among the members of MBVA on how such reforms and development initiatives could be replicated in Pune, as well. We are also working on putting some of the innovative technologies and concepts we witnessed there into practice for projects in this city.

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Pune Real Estate: Fast-Track Growth

Kishor PateKishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd. And Hon. Secretary – CREDAI (Maharashtra)

The city of Pune is now a sparkling jewel on the crown of Indian real estate. It has undergone a constant transformation over the past few decades – from a simple, rural community to a military base, and on to one of the most sought-after cities for property.

Industrialization and Expansion

Pune was radically transformed when the effects of rapid industrialization took hold. The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) paved the way for this advancement; real estate development followed, with residential properties gaining more and more demand even as the groundwork of business offices was put in place.

A city’s progress involves ever-increasing workforce, which in turn requires housing. Residential property development brings with it the need for commercial establishments where people can buy their supplies or spend time in leisure activities. As Pune became more industrialized, the market for residential, business and retail property grew simultaneously. The die had been cast, and the city’s growth curve was ascending constantly.

Business prospects and job opportunities increasingly abounded in Pune, causing more people to move in from other cities and rural areas. It became a city where people could find work, earn their living, educate their children and retire in peace and prosperity.

The Role of the IT Industry

Property development in Pune quickly increased with the increasing presnece of IT/ITES busineses. There was an upsurge in the demand for commercial real estate, since IT companies needed places of business. As this industry was established in Pune, economic advancement came rapidly.Various IT companies – both from the country and from around the globe – began to set up their offices in the city.

Prominent IT-related commercial projects and catchments  soon became part of the cityscape, with some of the most prominent being the Hinjewadi IT and Software Park, Magarpatta CyberCity and the EON IT Park in Kharadi. This evolution also brought with it  an evolution in the demographics of property buyers in Pune.

The Information Technology industry attracts and grooms ambitious, technologically-inclined young adults who invariably end up drawing sizeable salaries. More and more NextGen people could afford better housing options, leading to increased demand for upscale residences in Pune.

Astonia RoyaleBurgeoning Residential Development

Pune’s territory expanded in order to deal with the rising demand for more residential areas and commercial centers. A number of the adjacent towns and settlements such as Baner, Kharadi, Wakad, Warje and others were included within its city limits and became legitimate parts of the city.

These previously insignificant parcels of land, particularly in sites along the Solapur-Nagar Road Bypass, soon turned into real estate goldmines to which property development made a beeline.

Today, Pune’s progress has made it an ideal location for local property developers and construction companies. HOwever, it has also attracted national and international builders who are keen on catering to the ever-growing demand for quality housing in Pune.

Housing Trends in Pune

Pune was once a city in which most of the demand was for single-family detached houses. As the city’s population expanded, apartments and duplexes became increasingly common. With the proliferation of the nuclear family concept, two, three four bedroom apartments are now extremely popular.

The city has come a long way from its traditional residential configuration – the multi-family ‘wada’ (several individual residential units built around a common courtyard.) Today, most of these have been replaced by apartment blocks – though many of Pune’s more traditional area still have’wadas’.

Today, Pune’s citizens have greater purchasing power than ever before, and their requirements and demands have risen proportionately. Also, the easy availability of home loans has made the goal of buying property much more accessible.

There is definitely a growing market for affordable apartments as well as upscale residences. An increasing number of people aspire to own their own homes these days rather than taking the rental housing option.

Amit Astonia Royale AmbegaonResidential Property Markets

Today, Pune’s major residential property markets include Kalyani Nagar, Viman Nagar, Kharadi, Wanowrie, Baner and Undri. While Kalyani Nagar and Viman Nagar are quickly reaching saturation point, areas like Wanowrie, Baner and Undri still have a lot of development potential.

Baner has quickly become one of the primary hotspots for growth, since it offers several location benefits. It has a perfect blend of residential demand influencers. In the first place, it is close to the IT Park at Hinjewadi, which generates a lot of demand for quality housing from IT/ITES professionals.

Baner’s proximity to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway as well as the Mumbai-Bangalore highway is very significant. Aundh, University Road and Deccan Gymkhana are within easy commuting distance, which ensures that buyers into this project have easy access to entertainment, healthcare and shopping facilities.

Upscale residences can be primarily found in Koregaon Park, Boat Club Road, Kalyani Nagar, BT Kawade Road and Sopan Baug. Homes located in Kothrud, Warje, Undri, Wanowrie, Mundhwa, Baner and Hadapsar are the preferred destinations for middle-income home seekers. However, many of these areas now also have premium housing options available.

Investor Profile

Pune’s investor market for residential property is steady and growing constantly. Compared to Mumbai, demand for residential property in Pune has remained quite robust. In fact, property prices in the city have risen by at least 12% in most locations with good infrastructure over the last six months.

There is a lot of investor activity, but Pune’s residential property market is still riding primarily on genuine homebuyer demand, with sales in this segment amounting for almost 62% of the overall sales. The rest comes from investor sales.

The investor profile is quite interesting because of how it changes according to location. In areas like Baner, Wakad and Hinjewadi, most of the investor enquiries come from Mumbai.

However, we noted that in the case of Astonia Royale and Bloomfield – our projects in Ambegaon – the highest investor demand comes from cities like Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Shirval.