Monday, January 25, 2021

Realty Biz

Smart Cities will provide big opportunities for the real estate sector

The BCC Group has been at the forefront of developing residential and commercial properties in Delhi and the NCR region for over three decades. With a portfolio of 2.5 million sq ft area of developed projects in its kitty and about 6.5 million sq ft under development, it has emerged as a strong, multifaceted, multi-disciplinary and vibrant organisation. KUMAR BHARAT, DIRECTOR BCC INFRASTRUCTURES PVT. LTD responded to SHRIKANT RAO’s queries on his group’s landmark gated community project, Bharat City.


Give us an understanding of BCC's areas of focus over the 30 years of its existence as an infrastructure/real estate firm?

Since the start of our journey in 1980, the group has contributed both in terms of residential and commercial properties in Delhi and the NCR region. BCC Infrastructures’ expertise lies in residential development services. It has delivered around 50 projects till date including the prestigious NBCC Town which is a JV between NBCC and BCC. We have now come up with Bharat City, an environment friendly township in partnership with HDFC Portfolio Management Services (PMS) at Indraprastha Yojana, Ghaziabad. The Bharat City gated community is spread over 60 acres. It is one of the largest residential projects in NCR and offers 5000 units with multiple options in sizes and layouts that are affordable yet loaded with best in class amenities. It is our endeavour to create world class facilities and towards that end we have instilled honesty, commitment, credibility, responsibility, ethics and best practices in our organisation. Possession of Phase I will begin in December 2014.


Could you offer us more details of the Bharat City project?

Bharat City is a township inspired by the philosophy of ‘People First’. Designed as a vital urban center, Bharat City offers the widest range of activities for everyone. Residents will have convenient access to schools, healthcare facilities, cultural activities, athletic venues, shopping and entertainment facilities. All coupled with the Bharat Club, sports complex, multi cuisine restaurant, convenient shopping, hyper market, large open playing area, senior citizen park with jogging track and amphitheater. In fact Bharat City is the only complex providing night time sporting facilities in India.


Who are your project partners and collaborators in these developments?

BCC Infrastructures Pvt. Ltd. has tied up with Weckenmann Anlagentechnik GmbH & Co. KG, Germany for its precast needs starting with the second phase. In this technology majority of the structural components of the buildings such as slabs, columns, beams, wall etc. are standardised and produced in plants at a location away from the building site and then transported to the site for assembly. These components are manufactured by industrial methods based on mass production in order to build a large number of buildings in a short time at low cost. Our structural consultants are Van Boxsel Engineering Pvt. Ltd., Netherlands. The MEP consultant is Consummate Engineering Services Pvt. Ltd while the architect is Anuj Agarwal Architects Pvt. Ltd. Bharat City is among the very first residential projects in India to use German pre-cast construction technology.


What are the other pluses of the project?

Starting with Phase 2, Bharat City will be designed by one of the best structural architects. We are going to apply for a 5-star rating for eco-friendly construction which will make the project stronger, safer, and sustainable – with more life for the buildings, and more carpet area for those living in it. The project offers buyers the benefit of the 20:80 financial scheme through which a flat can be acquired with an initial deposit of 20 per cent while the remainder can be handed over at the time of possession. Under the scheme offered by HDFC PMS possession will have to be within 30 months failing which the developer will be required to pay a penalty at Rs 5 per sq ft. The land is freehold in the name of developer BCC Infrastructures Pvt. Ltd. The flat will be registered in the name of flat owner.


Give us a sense of the projects financials?

While the total cost of construction works out to Rs 1000 crore, the land cost is Rs 140 crore, and the amount to be expended on infrastructure will be about Rs 60 crore. We expect a turnover of approximately Rs 300 crore over the next 5 years.


Please tell us about your technologies used in your projects – including Weckenmann’s precast – and expand on the value they are expected to bring to the Bharat City project?

In Bharat City, BCC has adopted precast technology starting with Phase 2. The technology will not only help deal with labour supply shortage, manpower scarcity, but will also offer superior quality construction and green practice where wastage will be minimised. This technology will enable reduction of labour by 60 per cent. Phase II of Bharat City will have 39 towers. The building will have load bearing RCC walls and slabs which will be earthquake resistant. The strength of the building will improve considerably and go up to 200 years thus becoming a home for generations. We are amongst the few developers in India who are using such technology in the construction of world-class residential projects. We have invested around Rs 30 crore to import such technology. Here, a majority of the structural components for the building are standardised and produced in manufacturing plants located remotely from the project site. These components are then transported to the site and assembled by a skilled labour force. In these buildings only the foundation and floor slabs are constructed the traditional way. The technology brings down construction time by around 64 per cent while the cost of a large scale project can come down to 10-15 per cent.


What is the emphasis you place on green buildings and sustainability? Inform us of the best practices you have introduced in your projects in terms of innovation and technology, quality construction material and project management techniques?

We are using precast (prefabricated) construction technology which has already been used in Europe and the Middle East. So far this technology has been used in constructing large infrastructural projects like bridges, metro rail and commercial buildings. Though precast construction industry is still at its nascent stage in India, it’s rapidly coming to the forefront of the construction industry. Precast components are fabricated or assembled offsite, transported to the project site, and installed on a prepared foundation. Apart from the low cost and timely delivery, buildings constructed using this technology are more robust than traditional brick and mortar constructions. As the construction is done in a controlled factory environment its environmental impact is much less than the traditional construction. It negates the delays and issues caused by environmental factors like bad weather. Fire typically destroys a building’s roof. When a structure is built on grade, the collapsing roof often pulls the walls down into a building. To avoid this problem, continuous panels – unlike masonry or concrete block walls – are firmly anchored into the ground. As a result, they will not break apart. On the safety front too these buildings are at much more advantageous position. The precast wall panels extend into a building’s footings, which helps these buildings cope with interior fire, water damage and accidental impact. Bharat City also has a Sewage Treatment Plant which will save around 10 lakh litres of water every day of which 5 lakh litres can be used by the customers in flushing and car washing and rest can be used in maintenance functions of garden and road areas. We have also installed a water harvesting plant which has 18 recharge pits for the rainy reason. We are using Fly Ash Brick (FAB) which is a material used for constructing buildings, specifically masonry units, containing class C fly ash and water. It is made of extremely fine ash 'flying' along with flue gases which is trapped and collected in Electro-Static Precipitators (ESP). Ash consists of PCA (Pulverised coal ash) which gets generated during the combustion of coal in thermal power plants. It is a waste product for power industry but it's a primary raw material in construction. The advantages of the bricks is that they absorb less water, Zero efflorescence, uniform size of bricks reduces plaster almost by 50 per cent, Gypsum plaster (plaster of Paris) can be directly applied and there is no emission of greenhouse gases during production. Such type of bricks saves the environment from harmful chemical effects. Bharat City has also taken great care while wiring and cabling the flats.


Give us an understanding of NCR as a real estate market and share your concerns as an infrastructure – real estate builder developer?

The national capital Delhi has become a hub of action for north India due to greater economic activity and the resulting migration. With greater investment coming to the NCR, both office and retail spaces have seen heavy development especially in Delhi with its position of being the political hub of the country. Consequently, with rising population influx the demand on the residential front has been ever increasing as well. The NCR residential market has geared up for these demands. Many new projects that are coming up are expected to become ready for possession in a two to three year time frame. The key targets for these projects have been the mid income groups in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab who wish to own their own abode and be part of the metropolis. The growth in the real estate market especially in Delhi and NCR region is here to stay. The ever increasing population and housing being a necessity the demand will keep on rising and the supply has to meet it. There are few things which usually developers are concerned of. First of all are the approvals. The time involved in the process can affect the delivery of your project which in turn can lead to price rise. Market sentiment also affects the projects. It is important to keep the economy moving at a good pace.


There is currently an overemphasis on luxury leading to real estate price points going beyond the reach of the average buyer. In that context could you explain your philosophy towards affordable low cost housing?

Affordable housing has always been in demand. Delhi is becoming expensive day by day with affordable living options remaining very few. It has become impossible for everyone to buy a home in the area. So people look for affordable house in the NCR region depending on their budget. Going by our company philosophy our aim is to provide a home to all sections of the society with best in class facilities.


Tell us of your long terms plans to expand your company’s profile pan India?

Currently our entire focus is on Bharat City, we want to develop the entire township with all the modern facilities and then think of other projects.We are tied up till 2016 with Bharat City. By then we would have successfully adapted pre-cast technology in our project. In the future, we envisage new divisions for the company like BCC Engineering, which will develop buildings for other developers where pre-cast technology can be efficiently utilised. As of now we want to concentrate on one project at a time.


Give us a brief assessment of the action taken by the government and your expectations from it as a developer?

Major steps have been taken by the government in the recently launched budget to improve the business sentiment. Providing tax holiday benefits for affordable housing projects will put further impetus on this segment and ease the burden of both the developers and home buyers. A structured policy framework with transparency will not only benefit the developers but will also boost investor confidence. The government should focus on developing infrastructure and its ambitious scheme of putting impetus on sustainable infrastructure development in existing metros and creating 100 new smart cities will be crucial for the growth of real estate sector. Connected to this is the long standing demand of the real estate sector to be granted ‘infrastructure status’ which will increase the flow of funds from banks and foreign investors.


The new government has urban development – this includes new smart cities and industrial corridors – at the top of its agenda? What are the areas of opportunity that BCC would be looking at?
The decision to create smart cities is primarily to attract fresh investments and for job creation. For the real estate sector it will provide immense opportunities to construct residential properties, office space, incubation space and warehouses etc. at inexpensive rates. Establishing businesses at an early stage in these upcoming cities and creating a brand as a trusted organisation and growing along with the city will provide long term prospects for real estate businesses. Many of these smart cities will be calling for bids for various development initiatives, which can provide recurring business. We will also be looking up for the bids for residential and commercial properties.

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