We launched our first project in 2010, and since then we are committed to the affordable sector. Our aim is to create happy communities along with an excellent physical structures and great amenities, says Rohit Poddar, Managing Director, Poddar Housing and Development Limited, in conversation with Rakesh Roy of Elets News Network (ENN).
Your family is into business since 1690, isn’t it? Will you please brief us on this further?
The family originally was traders in Churu, in Sikar, Shekhawati, Rajasthan, with the surname Churuwal. They were very successful and had a thriving trading business, especially in woolen products, amongst others. History has it that Churu went into decline and the erstwhile Thakur decided to impose additional high taxes on goods, which the Churuwals found very unfair, consequently went to the Raja of Sikar and got his permission to found their own town – Ramgarh in 1791.
The Raja changed their surname to Poddar because they were financing the King. The First Poddar was Bhagothi Ram Poddar who founded Ramgarh, which was subsequently called ‘Seth ka Ramgarh’. The family went on to form Tarachand Ghanshyamdas (Tarachand and Ghanshyamdas, were decedents of Bhagothi Ram) and the firm went on to become a very large and prominent firm for over 150 years with multiple business including oil distribution, Hundi’s, insurance, manufacturing etc with offices across the subcontinent and international operations in Hong Kong and Shanghai, all at the time when telecommunication was a serious challenge. Harvard professors have written about this famous firm. The family then went into textiles, automobile tyre manufacturing, education, healthcare and finally real estate.
When did Poddar family think of entering into housing?
Well, the family has done construction in the past, on what was deemed as excess land. However, we looked at affordable housing very seriously when the affordable housing market report by the National Housing Bank (NHB) and the Monitor Group was published in 2007, which clearly showed the large supply gap.
Based on our analysis, affordable housing was more of a manufacturing business and this gave us confidence given our long background in manufacturing. Additionally, along came 2008-2009 and it became very clear about the role of business in society and the ingredients of what would be needed to be a great brand for the future. We launched our first project in 2010, and have been extremely committed to the affordable sector since.
Your campaign as we see very aggressively highlighting the difference between House and Home. We read somewhere it says “Call Us for Home & Call Other For House.” Kindly throw more light on it?
“Home” is where the heart is, isn’t it? A house is a physical structure, which most people and companies build. However, creating a home is not easy.
A very important goal for us it to create happy communities along with an excellent physical structures and great amenities, hence we build sustainable developments with a lot of greenery, schools, hospitals, amenities and other infrastructure that allow community to engage with each other peacefully, and the development becomes an emotion called a home. We try and be a partner to our customers right through the process including post possession.
How do you view the Affordable Housing Sector, especially in Maharashtra under PMAY? How has the sector evolved in terms of infrastructure?
The sector now has infrastructure status, which unfortunately has not been operationalised practically by the Government.
However, the PMAY scheme has transformed the sector. It is a very practical scheme and hence has created a huge stock of approved projects already and going by what the Government has to say, it will not only meet targets, but exceed them, in advance of the targeted date. The developers now have to deliver on constructing the houses, which I believe will happen.
As per your view, how conductive are the rules and regulation, taxes regime, etc in Maharashtra for the real estate sector to push affordable housing? How have RERA and GST impacted the sector in terms of safeguarding both the sector and consumers?
MAHARERA is unquestionably a resounding success. We have the best officers in the Country running it and framing and evolving its policies, and rightly so. It’s a new policy and practical issues are faced everyday, not all of which can be thought of in advance and hence continuous but sensible tweaking of the policy is required.
MAHARERA is going a long way in bridging the customer- developer, trust deficit, and I believe over a period of time, with the correct implementation and holding all stakeholders equally accountable, will transform the Industry even further.
One obvious missing stakeholder is the competing authority that gives regulatory clearances, which either should directly be a part of RERA or there should be an enforceable Right to services act.
GST is great for the medium to long term, and as expected, there are short term pains. In my opinion, there are too many GST slabs which will hopefully get rationalized in the foreseeable future.
As you know MHADA is the nodal agency for the PMAY scheme in Maharashtra. It’s new for them and I do foresee many teething problems in managing such a volume of projects. Hopefully the delays will be streamlined with processes and IT.
Do you have plans of doing Joint Campaign for Affordable Home and PMAY scheme with Government bodies and various ministries?
Well ideally, Joint marketing should be the way forward, but I am not sure how this will be operationalised successfully. The Government should be first open to this concept.
According to you, how can data sharing and statistic by Government benefit in better planning and fast delivery in the direction of affordable housing?
Data is the key to understand customer demographics and hence should be the basis of master planning, product design and higher liveability. Whether the data can be shared or not, is another matter.
Recently we read that you brought biggest land parcel in Chakan and applied to SEBI for the same. Are you in a position to tell us about the same?
We bought the land parcel in Mahalunge in Chakan to develop a township and has applied for PMAY. The project is expected to start in the early January 2019.
How do you see the ‘Affordable Housing Summit’ being organised on 8 October in Mumbai in terms of strengthening the ‘Housing for All’ mission?
I believe, the Affordable Housing Summit is a very important initiative in terms of knowledge sharing and discussion towards the success of PMAY -U. The summit will be witnessing all the stakeholders of Affordable Housing under one roof and will find the practical solutions to issues pertaining to the whole gamut of Affordable Housing.
The summit is indeed more important as it will discuss success stories and best practices of PMAY, not only of Maharashtra but across India.