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Interviews

It is the new era of smart city development – Sanjay Jain, Group Managing Director, Siddha Group

Siddha Group

A Commerce graduate from Calcutta University, a voracious reader, and an explorer, Mr. Sanjay Jain, Group Managing Director, Siddha Group is a man of many talents. His journey started as an entrepreneur with his family business of Jute, Iron & Steel Trading and Cement manufacturing. Further, when the real estate industry was thriving in 1993, his creative overdrive made him venture into the real estate development. Since then, he, along with his peers, has taken Siddha Group to a whole new level. Team RealtyMyths.Com had an insightful conversation with Mr.Sanjay Jain, here are the excerpts:

I am inquisitive to know how your journey really was. What really got you into real estate from your family business?

It has been a journey of more than 30 years now starting with the first project in Jaipur and then in Kolkata. Till date, we have completed 34 projects, residential and commercial and handed over more than 5000 apartments and offices spaces. Siddha continues its journey with 14 ongoing projects of more than 10,000 units and 7 upcoming projects of more than 18000 units. This includes Kolkata, Jaipur, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Today, we are a group focused on affordable housing segment. During the downturn of 2008, we ventured into this segment with Siddha Town to address the market needs and to align us with this segment.  Standing today, we feel it was a blessing in disguise.

Impressive, I mean the establishments and vision seem to come with much clarity. Being a multi-city developer how will RERA impact, I asked?

There was a lot of confusion initially when the RERA was announced and the sentiments in the real estate industry were not very positive. But if we recall that there were initial hardships in the stock exchange industry with the introduction of SEBI. However, later it all settled down with the useful changes and benefits for all stakeholders of industries taking shape. Similarly, we believe that RERA may cause hardships in the initial period but eventually, it would be beneficial for the industry and the customers after its proper understanding and incorporation.

Even though only 13 states have approved RERA, the implementation seems a distant dream. The buyer is not the king yet. Moreover, I asked Mr.Jain which real estate market do you see is evolving? Are you planning to tap any new market?

Currently, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, and Bengaluru are evolving markets. Last year we started in Mumbai. We are active in Bengaluru also besides Kolkata and Jaipur and have bigger plans in the near future both for Mumbai and other cities we are present in. Well, we don’t plan newer developments in any other cities as of now.

Do you think the home buyers are in a better space of mind to invest?

Yes, post demonetization, which had pulled down market sentiments, the prospective home buyers appear to be in a more positive frame of mind now. Along with this implementation of RERA has given that confidence and trust to the buyer to take decisions.

With so many projects in your kitty, which one is your personal favourite?

Siddha Magnum, our upcoming project in Kolkata caters to the economically weaker section consisting of 5000 units, is my favourite project which will be launched around Durga Puja this year. It is one of the most challenging projects in hand where the construction needs to be completed at a controlled cost without cutting down on the quality of the housing.

Share us the story about SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) project in Mumbai’s Kandivali?

We are truly delighted to join hands with the SRA in building homes for economically weaker people of this part of the country. We are going to develop around 8 lakh sq ft area for slum rehabilitation projects in Mumbai within the guidelines of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), Government Of Maharashtra in Kandivali west and Wadala. These projects would rehabilitate about 2000 families who are currently living in slums of Mumbai.

In reality, do you think our real estate market is promising? What are the key drivers of the market?

The Government has taken a number of steps to boost affordable housing in the country. In the recently concluded budget, the government granted infrastructure status to affordable housing which clearly shows its intention to achieve the target of “Housing for All” by 2022. With this move, we the developers will now be able to enjoy the benefit of lower borrowing rates, tax concessions and increased flow of foreign and private capital into our projects. This will bring down the construction cost and indirectly benefit the buyer.

The interest on subsidy scheme for the EWS, LIG and MIG sections which the Government has announced through the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana will definitely increase the demand for housing. It is also looking forward to exempting the affordable housing initiative from GST. These steps will help propel the real estate sector going forward making home buying a reality for buyers.

Are smart cities a myth in India with the current infrastructural condition?

We are now certainly facing a new era of smart city development. Public-private partnership is assuming a new dimension and playing an important core role. The private sector is struggling for new markets to invest and new consumers to replace the traditional markets that are aging. There is huge miss-match of houses being constructed by the developer and the houses required by the masses of our country. Now, with the structured policy of houses 30 to 60 sq. meters there are many developers who are considering entry in those segments. I strongly feel these sizes of flats are the real market of the smart cities and in India, the concept smart city is the reality and we have all the elements to achieve this vision.

Home buyers are smart, educated and digital. How aggressive is Siddha on digital?

Yes. Siddha has been very active in the digital space for the last few years and the response from online media has been fabulous. The transition from traditional media to new age digital media is very well experienced from the number of enquiries been generated and converted from online media. Though the transition is relatively slower than international markets, however in the coming years online media will play the most important medium for real estate sales. We have been the first real estate company in Eastern India to launch our own APP. The response was phenomenal. We also keep giving online offers and encourage people to make payments online, either through portal or APP.

Do you have any suggestions for the newcomers entering the affordable housing segment?

As RERA is now implemented they will now have to be more structured in their planning as well as execution.

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