Housing is one of the major sectors adding to the nation’s economy, especially, after the launch of programmes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) by the Centre. The Rajasthan Housing Board (RHB) is managing the real estate sector in major cities of Rajasthan and their journey has been no less than a roller coaster ride. The Board achieving record sales today was once in a state of getting dissolved. Here’s a brief account of the RHB, from its formation, the downfall to its resurrection and success.
The Rajasthan Housing Board (RHB) was established on February 24, 1970. The RHB Act No. 4 was promulgated for the formation of the real estate body and assent from the state’s Governor was received on April 18, 1970. The RHB was brought into existence by the Government of Rajasthan as an autonomous body to provide measures to deal with and satisfy the need for housing accommodation in the state.
There has been no corpus fund from the state government initially, therefore, RHB sourced its finances through HUDCO Ltd., against which, the state used to extend Guarantee for construction activities. Also, the Board has been mobilising its finances by borrowing from financial institutions, banks and receipts from Self Financing Schemes, sale proceeds from commercial/residential and institutional properties. However, RHB has no debt on it as of date. In the beginning, the Board was operational in only seven cities and now it is working in 65 cities/ towns.
The Downfall of RHB
As the Real Estate sector soared in 2002-03 it also gave a fillip to RHB’s activities. However, by 2013, the RHB’s activities started dwindling and the downfall began impacting all of its activities with the increase in rejection ratio by the public. The common men’s perception was at its lowest ebb. This has led to increased refund applications leading to increased unsold inventory of complete un-possessed dwelling units. RHB had entered in a big way into the multi-storied projects especially aimed at upper-middle and higher-income groups riding the wave of the boom but couldn’t meticulously reap the benefits owing to exorbitant time and cost overruns and boomeranged.
In the year 2015, the Government of Rajasthan had made up its mind to do away with the Board and imposed a ban on all the new housing schemes and constructions. The orders of the government remained in effect for almost three years. Following the formation of a new government in the state, there were talks of revamping the RHB, however, it seemed unachievable especially as a regular full-time Housing Commissioner was not existing.
During this, the Housing stock rose to an all-time high of 22,562 unsold units in 2017, hence, no new construction was allowed for two years and the in-progress houses were completed during this course of time that added to the unsold stock. Due to the increased rejection from registered applicants, the stock further piled up. No way was in sight other than disposing surplus units at a discounted rate, because of interest burden, to the extent of 50 per cent of their current reserve price, was available. As high as 13,933 houses were piled up as surplus by August 2019, which affected financial liquidity adversely.
The Resurrection and Success
In 2019, the Government of Rajasthan appointed Pawan Arora as the Commissioner, Rajasthan Housing Board, and his innovative vision took the Board’s drooping fate to the path of unparalleled success. The year 2020-21 was undoubtedly marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, undeterred by the recession, RHB adopted various means to attract people. It had embarked upon a few initiatives and innovations to improve efficiency and transparency while following the pandemic protocol. A whopping Rs 2,621 crore worth of close to 10,000 properties have been sold by the end of March 2021 in 18 months from September 30, 2019, which in itself is a historic fete and has been recognised worldwide.
Some of the popular schemes that the RHB launched in the last 18 months to do away with its housing stock and turn the table to the profitable sight include – Mahatma Gandhi Dastakar Nagar Yojana; Chief Minister Shikshak Awas Yojna & Chief Minister Prahari Awas Yojna; Allotment of shops in Jhulelal Market of Mansarovar Jaipur on the concessional cost to the Tibetan Refugees; Jaipur Choupatty; Development of Coaching Hub at Pratap Nagar, Jaipur; Establishment of Enforcement Wing; and much more.
During this phase of transformation, the Board took various innovative measures for COVID management and to overcome the crisis.
- As many as 3540 dwelling units were developed as ‘COVID-19 Quarantine Centre’
- In all the offices of RHB, a welcome gate of ‘No Mask – No Entry’ was erected. On October 3, 2020, a free mask distribution chariot van was flagged off by the Urban Development Minister from his residence.
- A sanitisation station and hand spraying machines have been installed in every office.
- The last date to deposit demand arising out of lease deed/transfer of name/subdivision/ reconstitution/ change of land use etc. has been extended to March 31, 2021, from March 15, 2020.
- The facility to pay in 156 monthly instalments was extended to purchasers in the auction.
The effective measures undertaken to revamp the RHB and confidence-building measures aimed at people as well as employees have started paying dividends. People started interacting with the RHB through social media. Also, people began registering and buying residential and commercial properties through eAuction and eBid submission. Moreover, the relaxations and rebates extended during the pandemic boosted the confidence of people resulting in greater participation. A positive mind, perseverance and rightful approach to face problems and resolving them without being deterred by failures can bring about miraculous changes.