Goodbye Traffic Jams, India’s First ‘Pod Taxis’ To Debut In Gurgaon Soon!

Pod taxis, an idea with which Indian states have flirted for years, will finally debut in Gurgaon.

A 13 km stretch, for 850 crore

The National Highways Authority of India has laid the groundwork to roll out India’s first personal rapid transit (PRT) network and will invite global bids for the project within the next fortnight. The pilot project will span a 13 km stretch from the Gurgaon-Delhi border to Badshapur Mod on Sohna Road and is estimated to cost Rs 850 crore.

A project called the Metrino, a PRT system in which pods are suspended from an overhead rail – has been under consideration for a while. Every pod can take up to five passengers. For the pilot project route, 16 stations have been planned, starting near Ambience Mall. A personal rapid transit (PRT) network is made up of small automated vehicles running at close intervals on a guide-way with docking stations for passengers to get on and off. While a pod can accommodate up to five people, there is also an option to hire an entire pod that will take a passenger straight to the destination, skipping the scheduled stops. The average speed of the pods is 60 kmph.

A senior NHAI official said the network would be built within a year of the contract being awarded. “Pod taxi systems are best suited for this. We are keeping our options open, though, so that private players can come up with best system, including skyrail,” the official said. A skyrail is also a PRT system, but is more similar to a ropeway .

Investment to be recovered in 25 years

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The NHAI official said land required for the project is already available with it and Haryana government agencies. The project does not need forest and environmental clearance. As for financing, the entire investment will be made by the private company that sets up the PRT. Under the terms of the agreement, the company will recover its investment in 25 years through tickets.

Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had announced last year that Metrinos will run between Dhaula Kuan in Delhi and Manesar. The overhead network for Metrinos has been planned along the expressway. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had travelled in a pod in Masdar City during his last visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The Punjab and Haryana governments had, in the past, announced a roll out of pod taxis in Amritsar and Gurgaon, but these never came to fruition. According to estimates prepared by the NHAI, while building a kilometre of Metro costs at least Rs 250 crore and of monorail Rs 200 crore, the Metrino system can be built with just Rs 70 crore. It’s lighter as well. “The NHAI will roll out the project soon. We have set a target of a year. Subsequently, we could extend this to Dhaula Kuan and Manesar on each side,” said the NHAI official.

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The incredible rise of Gurgaon’s commercial real estate

Stoked by swiftly expanding startups and multinational corporations, Gurgaon is fast emerging as the rising star of India’s commercial real estate market, but the old guard in New Delhi and Mumbai’s central business districts (CBD) is still holding strong.

In the last year, commercial rental prices in Gurgaon’s MG Road shot up by a staggering 30%—the highest in the country—according to real estate consultants Colliers International. During the same period, prices in Gurgaon’s DLF Cyber City and the institutional sectors also went up by 22% and 24%, respectively.

“Major corporates like Snapdeal, NTT Data, Zomato, Arvato, BCG Group, SAP together took around 1.17 million sq.ft which is about 66% of the total office absorption,” Colliers said in its report about Gurgaon. And except for Delhi’s Nehru Place, no other commercial area in the national capital or Mumbai found itself among the areas with the highest change in rental prices. Meanwhile, four locations in Gurgaon were listed among the top ten locations where rental rates surged.

  1. Gurgaon MG Road
  2. Gurgaon DLF Cybercity
  3. Gurgaon Institutional Sectors
  4. Grgaon Golf Course Road

Once a nondescript village on the outskirts of New Delhi, Gurgaon emerged as a satellite city to the capital in the late 1970s when Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest carmaker, set up its factory a little away from the city. Since then, a number of multinational firms, including Google and Microsoft, have set up their offices in the suburb.

Gurgaon also saw a 60% jump in the absorption of office spaces during the April-June quarter in 2015—the third highest after Mumbai and New Delhi—compared to the January-March quarter this year. Absorption in real estate parlance refers to the total occupancy of commercial properties that are sold or leased. During the quarter, Mumbai saw absorption of 2.93 million sq.ft while Delhi’s absorption was at 0.21 million sq.ft.

But rental rates in many of these upcoming cities like Gurgaon are still very low compared to New Delhi or Mumbai, which continue to command sky-high rents. Delhi’s CBD, which comprises Connaught Place, and Mumbai’s CBD, which comprises Nariman Point, Fort and Ballard Estate, were among the most expensive office locations.

India’s top 10 most expensive office locations
Area Price (Rs per sq.ft)
Delhi CBD 185-450
Bandra Kurla Complex 225-320
Mumbai CBD 200-250
Mumbai-Worli/Prabhadevi 185-225
New Delhi-Nehru Place 175-250
Mumbai-Kalina 150-200
Mumbai-Lower Parel 145-190
New Delhi-Saket 130-190
Gurgaon-MG Road 110-150
Gurgaon-Golf Course Road 100-150

“The office market recorded approximately 19 million sq.ft of office absorption in the first half of the year across major cities in India,” the report said. “With an expanding economy and the introduction of the REIT (real estate infrastructure fund) regulation, the demand for office space is increasing and so is the demand from institutional investors to acquire income yielding office property.”

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Haryana to develop Gurgaon as smartest city: Manohar Lal Khattar

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday said that Gurgaon will be the ‘smartest city’ and the state government will spare no efforts in this direction.

While addressing the Nasscom Product Conclave in Gurgaon, Khattar said though Gurgaon lagged behind as two other cities – Karnal and Faridabad – have been ranked above in the smart city race, but “this is not final”.

He said that as per the laid criteria of the Union Government, one of the main reasons for Gurgaon trailing behind in race for smart city was it’s non inclusion in Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM), which alone carries 20 marks, so Gurgaon has to compete out of 80 marks.

However, the state government has requested the Central Government that if Rs 100 crore, the amount to be given by Union Government annually for developing smart city, is provided to Haryana government, then Gurgaon can be included in the list of smart cities, Khattar said.

“The Central Government is considering this proposal. If accepted, Haryana might have three smart cities instead of two. Even if it is not accepted, then also the state government is committed to develop Gurgaon as ‘Smartest city’ because it is already a ‘smart city’,” the Chief Minister said.

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DLF to sell properties worth Rs 15,000 crore in various projects

India’s largest realty firm DLF plans to monetise properties worth about Rs 15,000 crore under various projects to boost its cash flow and reduce debt, a senior company official said. DLF had a net debt of Rs 20,336 crore at the end of the December quarter. “We have a total of Rs 14,000-15,000 crore stocks. Out of this, Rs 4,000 crore is in finished projects and more than Rs 10,000 crore is unsold stocks in projects which are launched and are under development,” said DLF Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Ashok Tyagi.

These stocks would get monetised as and when the demand picks up resulting in improvement in cash-flow as well as reduction of debt, he said when asked about the company’s strategy to reduce the huge debt. Stating that sales have been “low” since last year, Tyagi said bookings would comfortably cross Rs 3,000 crore in this fiscal, lower than Rs 4,070 crore in the 2013-14 financial year.

DLF has achieved sales bookings of about Rs 2,700 crore till February 15 of the current fiscal. With property market showing sluggishness, Tyagi said the company is looking to raise about Rs 3,000 crore by selling about 50 per cent stake each in 4 housing projects to private equity firms.

“Since sales are slow, we are planning to raise about Rs 3,000 crore through private equity. In the short term, PE funds will be the substitute for the cash flow which would have normally come from sales,” Tyagi said.

Tyagi said only about Rs 6,500 crore debt pertains to development arm DevCo and the same would be eventually reduced with monetisation of these Rs 15,000 crore worth stocks. On reducing of about Rs 14,000 crore debt pertaining to rental business RentCo, DLF CFO said the company plans to launch two Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) to monetise the rent-generating commercial assets. The company earns an annual rental income of over Rs 2,000 crore from its office buildings and shopping malls covering about 30 million sq ft area. Last month, DLF had reported 9 per cent decline in consolidated net profit at Rs 131.79 crore for the quarter ended December against Rs 145.29 crore in the year-ago period. Income from operations fell 5 per cent to Rs 1,956.72 crore for the third quarter of this fiscal from Rs 2,058.42 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.

Recently, Sebi slapped fines totalling Rs 86 crore on DLF, its top executives, their family members and various other related entities for entering into “sham transactions” to mislead IPO investors about eight years ago. DLF had said that it did not violate any laws and would challenge the order. The company had also said it was guided by the advice of “eminent legal advisors, merchant bankers and audit firms” while formulating its IPO documents. DLF has a land bank of about 295 million square feet, of which 50 million square feet is under development.

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GURGAON TOPS DEMAND CHART

The National Capital Region is expected to have the second highest real estate demand over the next few years, and Gurgaon leads the pack here, says ET Realty

Looking at the cumulative real estate demand, the NCR will have a requirement of 10.2 lakh housing units (commercial capital Mumbai requires 16.4 lakh), 249 lakh sq ft office space and 6.6 lakh sq ft retail by 2013. In the NCR, Gurgaon leads the pack in the demand in residential, office, retail, and hospitality sectors. Forthcoming world-class projects, proximity and well connectivity to Delhi are a few factors driving these figures.

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Is property investment in Gurgaon a better option?

gurgaon the millenium city

Gurgaon – The Millennium City

Gurgaon has been an integral part of the fascinating story of the Capital in the past decade. It earned the sobriquet of “Millennium City” for being home to over a hundred Fortune 500 companies, swanky malls and other entertainment avenues, BPO companies, world-class golf courses, hi-end restaurants, classy five-star hotels, healthcare facilities and state-of-the-art residential hi-rise structures. Despite all its infrastructure-related issues, the city is also home and working turf for a large number of corporate honchos. Gurgaon happens to be the first city of the country to have a 100% privately funded Metro train service and is soon to have pod taxis.

(more…)

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